Empire's Tracks (Paperback)

Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad (American Crossroads #52)

By Manu Karuka

University of California Press, 9780520296640, 320pp.

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (3/5/2019)

List Price: 29.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Empire’s Tracks boldly reframes the history of the transcontinental railroad from the perspectives of the Cheyenne, Lakota, and Pawnee Native American tribes, and the Chinese migrants who toiled on its path. In this meticulously researched book, Manu Karuka situates the railroad within the violent global histories of colonialism and capitalism. Through an examination of legislative, military, and business records, Karuka deftly explains the imperial foundations of U.S. political economy. Tracing the shared paths of Indigenous and Asian American histories, this multisited interdisciplinary study connects military occupation to exclusionary border policies, a linked chain spanning the heart of U.S. imperialism. This highly original and beautifully wrought book unveils how the transcontinental railroad laid the tracks of the U.S. Empire.

About the Author

Manu Karuka is Assistant Professor of American Studies at Barnard College.

Praise For Empire's Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad (American Crossroads #52)

"Empire’s Tracks comes at a critical juncture, which only compounds its appeal. It is a moment where monopolies breathe new life as seemingly benevolent multinational, e-commerce corporations; when oil pipelines continue to cut through North America despite opposition from Indigenous peoples (amongst others); and when threats of mass deportations emanate from the highest political offices. . . .Karuka’s sincere meditation on the historicity of war, finance and countersovereignty is deeply welcomed as it sensitises readers to the tragically unexceptional reality of the present."

— LSE Review of Books

"[A] timely and provocative book, creating new ideas with which to re-examine the well-worn story of the railroad."

— Society & Space