Robert Julio Decker

PhD Student

Summary: The Immigration Restriction League and the Political Regulation of Immigration, 1894-1924


I studied Anglo-American History, Medieval and Modern History and Political Sciences at the University of Cologne. Since March 2008, I have been a PhD student at the School of History at the University of Leeds. My work concentrates on the history of the Immigration Restriction League (IRL) between 1894 and 1924, an organization founded to lobby for the restriction of the so-called new immigration due to an alleged racial difference and inferiority. In my work, I combine a Foucauldian approach including governmentality, biopolitics and subjectivation with critical race and whiteness studies to focus on the IRL as a nodal point between scientific racism, Anglo-Saxon identities, civic commitment and the state's apparatuses of security. My research is supervised by Kate Dossett and Simon Hall.

My research has been funded by an international scholarship from the School of History, University of Leeds and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and research scholarships received from the Houghton Library (Harvard University), the German Historical Institute Washington, D.C., the John-F.-Kennedy Institute (FU Berlin), the World University Network, the Royal Historical Society and the Economic History Society. I have presented my work at various national and international conferences, including Columbia University, the University of Sydney, and Monarch University (Melbourne).

Together with Say Burgin, I organized a whiteness studies reading group and the White Spaces postgraduate conference, held at Leeds University in August 2010. Out of this conference, organized with fellow PhD. student Madeleine-Sophie Abbas, the three of us developed a concept for a special issue now accepted by an international journal and to be published in 2013.

As a postgraduate tutor, I taught courses on "The History of the Modern World" and "The American Century, 1941-1980".


"Immigration Restriction, Whiteness and Subjectivity in the United States, 1894-1924", in Eva Bischoff, Elisabeth Engel (eds.): Colonialism and Beyond - Race and Migration from a Postcolonial Perspective (lit publishing, Münster, forthcoming).

"The Transnational Biopolitics of Immigration Restriction in the United States and White Settler Colonies, 1894-1924", in Eva Bischoff, Norbert Finzsch, and Ursula Lehmkuhl (eds.): Provincializing the United States. Colonialism, Decolonization and Post-Colonialism (forthcoming).

Book Review:

Blair L. M. Kelley, Right to Ride. Streetcar Boycott and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), Journal of American Studies, vol. 44 (2010), e68.