Julian Lim

Julian Lim

Associate Professor

Contact Information

Research Interests: Immigration, North American Borders and Borderlands, Race; Law, U.S. West, Pacific World, 19th-20th century U.S. History, and U.S. Expansion and Empire

Education: PhD, Cornell University

My research and teaching focuses on immigration, borders, and race. Trained in history and law, I pay close attention to migration and immigration law in constructing notions of belonging and state power. I am interested in transnational methodologies and relational approaches to the study of race, exploring the historical connections between Asian, Latinx, African American, and Indigenous peoples within the U.S. and across national boundaries. My research has been supported by multiple grants and awards, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship

My first book, Porous Borders: Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), examined the history of diverse immigrants in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, and the development of immigration policy and law on both sides of the border. The book received the David J. Weber-Clements Center Prize from the Western History Association; the Outstanding Achievement in History award from the Association for Asian American Studies; the Humanities Book Award from the Institute for Humanities Research; and an Honorable Mention for the Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Award for the best book on U.S. immigration history.  

I am currently working on a book project entitled Powers to Exclude: Restriction in an Era of American Expansion, which examines contestations over U.S. territorial control and border expansions from the 1870s to 1930. This project reframes the origins of federal immigration law - and the nation’s right to exclude - as rooted in broader struggles over the changing terrain of U.S. empire. Following the expansion of U.S. borders from the continental U.S. into the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, I trace how U.S. powers to regulate and exclude certain populations from its territory and body politic emerged in and reverberated through federal immigration law, federal Indian law, and insular laws. 

“Making a Border,” Journal of Arizona History (invited, forthcoming special issue, 2024).

“Mormons and Mohammedans: Race, Religion, and the Anti-Polygamy Bar in U.S. Immigration Law,” Journal of American Ethnic History 41:1 (2021): 5-49.  Winner: WHA Ray Allen Billington Prize; IEHS Carlton C. Qualey Memorial Article Award.

“Immigration, Plenary Powers, and Sovereignty Talk: Then and Now,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 19:2 (2020): 217-29.

Laws for a Nation of Nativists and Immigrants,” co-authored with Maddalena Marinari, Modern American History 2 (2018), 1-4.

“Reconceptualizing Asian Pacific American Identity at the Margins,” UC Irvine Law Review 3:4 (2014): 1151-77.

“Immigration, Asylum, and Citizenship: A More Holistic Approach,” California Law Review 101:4 (2013): 1013-77.

“Chinos and Paisanos: Chinese-Mexican Relations in the Borderlands,” Pacific Historical Review 79:1 (2010): 50-85.

“Tongue Tied in the Market: The Relevance of Contract Law to Racial-Language Minorities,” California Law Review 91 (2003): 579-620.