How do we survive our family, stay bound to our community, and keep from losing ourselves? In All That Work and Still No Boys, Kathryn Ma exposes the deepest fears and longings that we mask in family life and observes the long shadows cast by history and displacement.
Here are ten stories that wound and satisfy in equal measure. Ma probes the immigrant experience, most particularly among northern California’s Chinese Americans, illuminating for us the confounding nature of duty, transformation, and loss. A boy exposed to racial hatred finds out the true difference between his mother and his father. Two old rivals briefly lay down their weapons, but loneliness and despair won’t let them forget the past. A young Beijing tour guide with a terrible family secret must take an adopted Chinese girl and her American family to visit an orphanage. And in the prize-winning title story, a mother refuses to let her son save her life, insisting instead on a sacrifice by her daughter.
Intimate in detail and universal in theme, these stories give us the compelling voice of an exciting new author whose intelligence, insight, and wit impart a sense of grace to the bitter resentments and enduring ties that comprise family love. Even through the tensions Ma creates so deftly, the peace and security that come from building and belonging to one’s own community shine forth.
World War II was a watershed event for many of America's minorities, but its impact on Chinese Americans has been largely ignored. Utilizing extensive archival research as well as oral histories and letters from over one hundred informants, Wong explores how Chinese Americans carved a newly respected and secure place for themselves in American society during the war years.
Originally published in 1939, this book was the first objective study of the anti-Chinese movement in the Far West, a subject that is as much a part of the history of California as the mission period or the gold rush. Some historians of the Asian American experience consider it to be, more than half a century later, the most satisfactory work on the subject.
During the Cold War, Chinese Americans struggled to gain political influence in the United States. Considered potentially sympathetic to communism, their communities attracted substantial public and government scrutiny, particularly in San Francisco and New York.
Between Mao and McCarthy looks at the divergent ways that Chinese Americans in these two cities balanced domestic and international pressures during the tense Cold War era. On both coasts, Chinese Americans sought to gain political power and defend their civil rights, yet only the San Franciscans succeeded. Forging multiracial coalitions and encouraging voting and moderate activism, they avoided the deep divisions and factionalism that consumed their counterparts in New York. Drawing on extensive research in both Chinese- and English-language sources, Charlotte Brooks uncovers the complex, diverse, and surprisingly vibrant politics of an ethnic group trying to find its voice and flex its political muscle in Cold War America.
Yutang, Lin Rutgers University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PR9470.9.L5C5 2007 | Dewey Decimal 823.912
Lin Yutang (1895–1976), author of more than thirty-five books, was arguably the most distinguished Chinese American writer of the twentieth century. In Chinatown Family, he brings humor and wisdom to issues of culture, race, and religion as he tells the engrossing and heart-warming story of an immigrant, working-class Chinese American family that settled in New York City during the 1930s and 1940s. Tracing their sometimes troubled and sometimes rewarding journey, Lin paints a vivid portrait of the wonder and the woe of settling into a new land. In an era when interracial marriages were frowned upon and it was forbidden for working-class Chinese men to bring their families to America, this story shows how one family struggled to become new Americans by applying their Taoist philosophy to resist peacefully the discriminatory laws and racism they encountered.
Beyond the quest for acceptance and economic success, Chinatown Family also probes deep into the heart of the immigration experience by presenting the perils of assimilation. The burgeoning tensionbetween the desire for material wealth and the traditional Chinese belief in the primary importance of family poses the question: Is it possible to attain the American dream without damaging these primary ties? For each family member, the answer to this question turns out to be different. Through the varied paths that each character takes, the novel dramatizes the ways that Chinese immigrants have negotiated between the competing interests of economic opportunity and traditional values.
Min Zhou examines how an ethnic enclave works to direct its members into American society, while at the same time shielding them from it. Focusing specifically on New York's Chinatown, a community established more than a century ago, Zhou offers a thorough and modern treatment of the enclave as a socioeconomic system, distinct form, but intrinsically linked with, the larger society.
Zhou's central theme is that Chinatown does not keep immigrant Chinese from assimilating into mainstream society, but instead provides an alternative means of incorporation into society that does not conflict with cultural distinctiveness. Concentrating on the past two decades, Zhou maintains that community networks and social capital are important resources for reaching socioeconomic goals and social positions in the United States; in Chinatown, ethnic employers use family ties and ethnic resources to advance socially. Relying on her family's networks in New York's Chinatown and her fluency in both Cantonese and Mandarin, the author, who was born in the People's Republic of China, makes extensive use of personal interviews to present a rich picture of the daily work life in the community. She demonstrates that for many immigrants, low-paid menial jobs provide by the enclave are expected as a part of the time-honored path to upward social mobility of the family.
In the series Conflicts in Urban and Regional Development, edited by John R. Logan and Todd Swanstrom.
Chinese American Transnationalism considers the many ways in which Chinese living in the United States during the exclusion era maintained ties with China through a constant interchange of people and economic resources, as well as political and cultural ideas. This book continues the exploration of the exclusion era begun in two previous volumes: Entry Denied, which examines the strategies that Chinese Americans used to protest, undermine, and circumvent the exclusion laws; and Claiming America, which traces the development of Chinese American ethnic identities. Taken together, the three volumes underscore the complexities of the Chinese immigrant experience and the ways in which its contexts changed over the sixty-one year period.
Sucheng Chan introduces this valuable new anthology with a commanding discussion of the field of Chinese American studies, in which she examines its history and points the way ahead. Here she and Madeline Y. Hsu have brought together leading-edge scholarship from a new generation of thinkers, as useful for scholars as it is for undergraduate readers.
The contributors address a broad range of issues, from the activism of left-wing and Communist Chinese immigrants to the U.S. in the 1920s and early 1930s and humanitarian relief during the Sino-Japanese War to the construction of new Chinese regional identities in New York.
This fully revised and redesigned edition traces the Chinese experience in the United States from the 1780s to the present, demonstrating that Chinese Americans have played an active role in shaping the history of our nation. This revised edition includes new material on children's history, transnationalism, and health care, and the author has expanded his original text and included more Chinese American voices.
The first detailed examination of the link between the “Chinese question” and the “Negro problem” in nineteenth-century America, this work forcefully and convincingly demonstrates that the anti-
Chinese sentiment that led up to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 is inseparable from the racial double standards applied by mainstream white society toward white and nonwhite groups during the same period.
Najia Aarim-Heriot argues that previous studies on American Sinophobia have overemphasized the resentment labor organizations felt toward incoming Chinese workers. This focus has caused crucial elements of the discussion to be overlooked, especially the broader ways in which the growing nation sought to define and unify itself through the exclusion and oppression of nonwhite peoples.
This book highlights striking similarities in the ways the Chinese and African American populations were disenfranchised during the mid-1800s, including nearly identical negative stereotypes, shrill rhetoric, and crippling exclusionary laws.
Removing Chinese American history from the vacuum in which it has been traditionally studied, this book stands as a holistic examination of the causes and effects of American Sinophobia and the racialization of national immigration policies.
Focuses on an ethnographic collection gathered from a complex of Chinese dwellings, the importance of which lies in its size, diversity, good condition, and observable continuity of materials known from earlier periods of Chinese occupation in Tucson.
Chinese St. Louis offers the first empirical study of a Midwestern Chinese American community from its nineteenth-century origins to the present. As in many cities, Chinese newcomers were soon segregated in an enclave; in St. Louis the enclave was called "Hop Alley." Huping Ling shows how, over time, the community grew and dispersed until it was no longer marked by physical boundaries. She argues that the St. Louis experience departs from the standard models of Chinese settlement in urban areas, which are based on studies of coastal cities. Developing the concept of a cultural community, Ling shows how Chinese Americans in St. Louis have formed and maintained cultural institutions and organizations for social and political purposes throughout the city, which serve as the community's infrastructure. Thus the history of Chinese Americans in St. Louis more closely parallels that of other urban ethnic groups and offers new insight into the range of adaptation and assimilation experience in the United States.
What happens when Chinese American youths travel to mainland China in search of their ancestral roots, only to realize that in many ways they still feel out of place, or when mainland Chinese realize that the lives of the Chinese abroad may not be as good as they had imagined? By considering programs designed to facilitate interactions between overseas Chinese and their ancestral homelands, Andrea Louie highlights how these programs not only create opportunities for new connections but also reveal the disjunctures that now separate Chinese Americans from China and mainland Chinese from the Chinese abroad.
Louie focuses on “In Search of Roots,” a program that takes young Chinese American adults of Cantonese descent to visit their ancestral villages in China’s Guangdong province. Through ethnographic interviews and observation, Louie examines the experiences of Chinese Americans both during village visits in China and following their participation in the program, which she herself took part in as an intern and researcher. She presents a vivid portrait of two populations who, though connected through family ties generations back, are meeting for the first time in the context of a rapidly changing contemporary China. Louie situates the participants’ and hosts’ shifting understandings of China and Chineseness within the context of transnational flows of people, media, goods, and money; China’s political and economic policies; and the racial and cultural politics of the United States.
edited by K. Scott Wong and Sucheng Chan Temple University Press, 1998 Library of Congress E184.C5C57 1998 | Dewey Decimal 973.04951
This collection of essays centers on the formation of an ethnic identity among Chinese Americans during the period when immigration was halted. The first section emphasizes the attempts by immigrant Chinese to assert their intention of becoming Americans and to defend the few rights they had as resident aliens. Highlighting such individuals as Yung Wing, and ardent advocate of American social and political ideals, and Wong Chin Foo, one of the first activists for Chinese citizenship and voting rights, these essays speak eloquently about the early struggles in the Americanization movement.
The second section shows how children of the immigrants developed a sense of themselves as having a distinct identity as Chinese Americans. For this generation, many of the opportunities available to other immigrants' children were simply inaccessible. In some districts explicit policies kept Chinese children in segregated schools; in many workplaces discriminatory practices kept them from being hired or from advancing beyond the lowest positions. In the 1930s, in fact, some Chinese Americans felt their only option was to emigrate to China, where they could find jobs better matched to their abilities. Many young Chinese women who were eager to take advantage of the educational and work options opening to women in the wider U.S. society first had to overcome their family's opposition and then racism. As the personal testimonies and historical biographies eloquently attest, these young people deeply felt the contradictions between Chinese and American ways; but they also saw themselves as having to balance the demands of the two cultures rather than as having to choose between them.
Contemporary Chinese America is the most comprehensive sociological investigation of the experiences of Chinese immigrants to the United States—and of their offspring—in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The author, Min Zhou, is a well-known sociologist of the Chinese American experience. In this volume she collects her original research on a range of subjects, including the causes and consequences of emigration from China, demographic trends of Chinese Americans, patterns of residential mobility in the U.S., Chinese American “ethnoburbs,” immigrant entrepreneurship, ethnic enclave economies, gender and work, Chinese language media, Chinese schools, and intergenerational relations. The concluding chapter, “Rethinking Assimilation,” ponders the future for Chinese Americans. Also included are an extensive bibliography and a list of recommended documentary films.
While the book is particularly well-suited for college courses in Chinese American studies, ethnic studies, Asian studies, and immigration studies, it will interest anyone who wants to more fully understand the lived experience of contemporary Chinese Americans.
In a volume that represents the culmination of his life's work in considering the relationship between culture and landscape, eminent scholar Yi-Fu Tuan argues that "cosmos" and "hearth" are two scales that anchor what it means to be fully and happily human. Illustrating this contention with examples from both his native China and his home of the past forty years, the United States, Tuan proposes a revised conception of culture, one thoroughly grounded in one's own society but also embracing curiosity about the world. Optimistic and deeply human, this important volume lays out a path to being "at home in the cosmos."
"Tuan's brief book is remarkably sweeping in its conception, and eschews easy answers in favor of a more sensitive probing of human culture. In the end he neatly comes down just to one side of the middle (hence the book's subtitle) in his brief that Americans need to reestablish ties to the hearth, but only as a viable means of affirming diversity. Otherwise, we must also realize the 'impermanence of our state wherever we are'-that we are never truly bound by a locale, other than our common membership in the cosmos. We are forever bound to look outward." City Pages
"Full of stimulating ideas about our global future." The Reader's Review
"A wise and poetic discussion of the human condition within the geography of the modern world." Religious Studies Review
"Tuan's book is cogent and thoughtful, and worthy of lively discussion." Pacific Reader
"An erudite, provocative inquiry. Championing both the hearth and cities as necessary crucibles of human development, Tuan suggests that we strive for a 'cosmopolitan hearth' by recognizing the importance of family and local ties while open-mindedly appreciating one's culture without chauvinism or xenophobia." Publishers Weekly
"Tuan's credos are laudable and engagingly presented." Kirkus Reviews
Yi-Fu Tuan is professor emeritus of geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the author of Space and Place, Dear Colleague, and Escapism
Criminalization/Assimilation traces how Classical Hollywood films constructed America’s image of Chinese Americans from their criminalization as unwanted immigrants to their eventual acceptance when assimilated citizens, exploiting both America’s yellow peril fears about Chinese immigration and its fascination with Chinatowns. Philippa Gates examines Hollywood’s responses to social issues in Chinatown communities, primarily immigration, racism, drug trafficking, and prostitution, as well as the impact of industry factors including the Production Code and star system on the treatment of those subjects. Looking at over 200 films, Gates reveals the variety of racial representations within American film in the first half of the twentieth century and brings to light not only lost and forgotten films but also the contributions of Asian American actors whose presence onscreen offered important alternatives to Hollywood’s yellowface fabrications of Chinese identity and a resistance to Hollywood’s Orientalist narratives.
In this important new study, Judith Oster looks at the literature of Chinese Americans and Jewish Americans in relation to each other. Examining what is most at issue for both groups as they live between two cultures, languages, and environments, Oster focuses on the struggles of protagonists to form identities that are necessarily bicultural and always in process. Recognizing what poststructuralism has demonstrated regarding the instability of the subject and the impossibility of a unitary identity, Oster contends that the writers of these works are attempting to shore up the fragments, to construct, through their texts, some sort of wholeness and to answer at least partially the questions Who am I? and Where do I belong?
Oster also examines the relationship of the reader to these texts. When encountering texts written by and about “others,” readers enter a world different from their own, only to find that the book has become mirrorlike, reflecting aspects of themselves: they encounter identity struggles that are familiar but writ large, more dramatic, and set in alien environments.
Among the figures Oster considers are writers of autobiographical works like Maxine Hong Kingston and Eva Hoffman and writers of fiction: Amy Tan, Anzia Yezierska, Henry Roth, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Lan Samantha Chang, and Frank Chin. In explicating their work, Oster uses Lacan’s idea of the “mirror stage,” research in language acquisition and bilingualism, the reader-response theories of Iser and Wimmers, and the identity theories of Charles Taylor, Emile Benveniste, and others.
Oster provides detailed analyses of mirrors and doubling in bicultural texts; the relationships between language and identity and between language and culture; and code-switching and interlanguage (English expressed in a foreign syntax). She discusses food and hunger as metaphors that express the urgent need to hear and tell stories on the part of those forging a bicultural identity. She also shows how American schooling can undermine the home culture’s deepest values, exacerbating children’s conflicts within their families and within themselves. In a chapter on theories of autobiography, Oster looks at the act of writing and how the page becomes a home that bicultural writers create for themselves. Written in an engaging, readable style, this is a valuable contribution to the field of multicultural literary criticism.
Freewheeling sexuality and gender experimentation defined the social and moral landscape of 1890s San Francisco. Middle class whites crafting titillating narratives on topics such as high divorce rates, mannish women, and extramarital sex centered Chinese and Japanese immigrants in particular. Amy Sueyoshi draws on everything from newspapers to felony case files to oral histories in order to examine how whites' pursuit of gender and sexual fulfillment gave rise to racial caricatures. As she reveals, white reporters, writers, artists, and others conflated Chinese and Japanese, previously seen as two races, into one. There emerged the Oriental--a single pan-Asian American stereotype weighted with sexual and gender meaning. Sueyoshi bridges feminist, queer, and ethnic studies to show how the white quest to forge new frontiers in gender and sexual freedom reinforced--and spawned--racial inequality through the ever evolving Oriental. Informed and fascinating, Discriminating Sex reconsiders the origins and expression of racial stereotyping in an American city.
Philadelphia’s Chinatown, like many urban chinatowns, began in the late nineteenth century as a refuge for immigrant laborers and merchants in which to form a community to raise families and conduct business. But this enclave for expression, identity, and community is also the embodiment of historical legacies and personal and collective memories.
In Ethnic Renewal in Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Kathryn Wilson charts the unique history of this neighborhood. After 1945, a new generation of families began to shape Chinatown’s future. As plans for urban renewal—ranging from a cross-town expressway and commuter rail in the 1960s to a downtown baseball stadium in 2000—were proposed and developed, “Save Chinatown” activists rose up and fought for social justice.
Wilson chronicles the community’s efforts to save and renew itself through urban planning, territorial claims, and culturally specific rebuilding. She shows how these efforts led to Chinatown’s growth and its continued ability to serve as a living community for subsequent waves of new immigration.
Monterey Park, California, only eight miles east of downtown Los Angeles, was dubbed by the media as the "First Suburban Chinatown." The city was a predominantly white middle-class bedroom community in the 1970s when large numbers of Chinese immigrants transformed it into a bustling international boomtown. It is now the only city in the United States with a majority Asian American population. Timothy P. Fong examines the demographic, economic, social, and cultural changes taking place there, and the political reactions to the change.
Fong, a former journalist, reports on how pervasive anti-Asian sentiment fueled a series of initiatives intended to strengthen "community control," including a movement to make English the official language. Recounting the internal strife and the beginnings of recovery, Fong explores how race and ethnicity issues are used as political organizing tools and weapons.
In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ.
From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express takes readers on a compelling journey from the California Gold Rush to the present, letting readers witness both the profusion of Chinese restaurants across the United States and the evolution of many distinct American-Chinese iconic dishes from chop suey to General Tso’s chicken. Along the way, historian Haiming Liu explains how the immigrants adapted their traditional food to suit local palates, and gives readers a taste of Chinese cuisine embedded in the bittersweet story of Chinese Americans.
Treating food as a social history, Liu explores why Chinese food changed and how it has influenced American culinary culture, and how Chinese restaurants have become places where shared ethnic identity is affirmed—not only for Chinese immigrants but also for American Jews. The book also includes a look at national chains like P. F. Chang’s and a consideration of how Chinese food culture continues to spread around the globe.
Drawing from hundreds of historical and contemporary newspaper reports, journal articles, and writings on food in both English and Chinese, From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express represents a groundbreaking piece of scholarly research. It can be enjoyed equally as a fascinating set of stories about Chinese migration, cultural negotiation, race and ethnicity, diverse flavored Chinese cuisine and its share in American food market today.
Hapa Girl: A Memoir
May-lee Chai Temple University Press, 2008 Library of Congress F660.A1C38 2007 | Dewey Decimal 978.3004951
In the mid-1960s, Winberg Chai, a young academic and the son of Chinese immigrants, married an Irish-American artist. In Hapa Girl ("hapa" is Hawaiian for "mixed") their daughter tells the story of this loving family as they moved from Southern California to New York to a South Dakota farm by the 1980s. In their new Midwestern home, the family finds itself the object of unwelcome attention, which swiftly escalates to violence. The Chais are suddenly socially isolated and barely able to cope with the tension that arises from daily incidents of racial animosity, including random acts of cruelty.
May-lee Chai's memoir ends in China, where she arrives just in time to witness a riot and demonstrations. Here she realizes that the rural Americans' "fears of change, of economic uncertainty, of racial anxiety, of the unknowable future compared to the known past were the same as China's. And I realized finally that it had not been my fault."
Both a history of an overlooked community and a well-rounded reassessment of prevailing assumptions about Chinese miners in the American West, In Pursuit of Gold brings to life in rich detail the world of turn-of-the-century mining towns in the Northwest. Sue Fawn Chung meticulously recreates the lives of Chinese immigrants, miners, merchants, and others who populated these towns and interacted amicably with their white and Native American neighbors, defying the common perception of nineteenth-century Chinese communities as insular enclaves subject to increasing prejudice and violence.
While most research has focused on Chinese miners in California, this book is the first extensive study of Chinese experiences in the towns of John Day in Oregon and Tuscarora, Island Mountain, and Gold Creek in Nevada. Chung illustrates the relationships between miners and merchants within the communities and in the larger context of immigration, arguing that the leaders of the Chinese and non-Chinese communities worked together to create economic interdependence and to short-circuit many of the hostilities and tensions that plagued other mining towns.
Peppered with fascinating details about these communities from the intricacies of Chinese gambling games to the techniques of hydraulic mining, In Pursuit of Gold draws on a wealth of historical materials, including immigration records, census manuscripts, legal documents, newspapers, memoirs, and manuscript collections. Chung supplements this historical research with invaluable first-hand observations of artifacts that she experienced in archaeological digs and restoration efforts at several of the sites of the former booming mining towns.
In clear, analytical prose, Chung expertly characterizes the movement of Chinese miners into Oregon and Nevada, the heyday of their mining efforts in the region, and the decline of the communities due to changes in the mining industry. Highlighting the positive experiences and friendships many of the immigrants had in these relatively isolated mining communities, In Pursuit of Gold also suggests comparisons with the Chinese diaspora in other locations such as British Columbia and South Africa.
Japanese and Chinese immigrants in the United States have traditionally been characterized as hard workers who are hesitant to involve themselves in labor disputes or radical activism. How then does one explain the labor and Communist organizations in the Asian immigrant communities that existed from coast to coast between 1919 and 1933? Their organizers and members have been, until now, largely absent from the history of the American Communist movement. In Japanese and Chinese Immigrant Activists, Josephine Fowler brings us the first in-depth account of Japanese and Chinese immigrant radicalism inside the United States and across the Pacific.
Drawing on multilingual correspondence between left-wing and party members and other primary sources, such as records from branches of the Japanese Workers Association and the Chinese Nationalist Party, Fowler shows how pressures from the Comintern for various sub-groups of the party to unite as an “American” working class were met with resistance. The book also challenges longstanding stereotypes about the relationships among the Communist Party in the United States, the Comintern, and the Soviet Party.
"Grace Lee Boggs has made a fundamental difference in keeping alive the traditions of the struggles for freedom and democracy." Cornel West
"More than a deeply moving memoir, this is a book of revelation. Grace Lee Boggs, Chinese American, middle class, highly educated, discovers through her encounters with remarkable rebels, blue collars as well as philosophers, where the body is buried: who is doing what to whom in our society. It is an adventure that is truly liberating." Studs Terkel
"It seems to me that the life of Grace Lee Boggs has been an exercise of will. Through sheer will, without waiting for social conditions to come around and without waiting to explore her identity, she turned her back on who she was and barged into new territories. She was a woman who barged into men's territory; she was a Chinese who barged into black territory; she was an intellectual who barged into workers territory." from a letter from Louis Tsen
"Throught these pages walk causes, gatherings, confrontations, movements, and the men and women who made them: workers, and students, and committees of the People; Christians, Black Muslims, Black Panthers, Labor Unions; C.L.R. James. Rev. Cleage, Rev. Cleveland, Coleman Young, Malcolm and Martin; artists, musicians, poets, actors, strikers, and seekers of revolution." from the foreword by Ossie Davis
Living for Change is a sweeping account of the life of an untraditional radical from the end of the thirties, through the cold war, the civil rights era, and the rise of Black Power, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panthers to the present efforts to rebuild our crumbling urban communities. This fascinating autobiography traces the story of a woman who transcended class and racial boundaries to pursue her passionate belief in a better society.
Grace Lee Boggs was raised in New York City during a time when her father was not allowed to buy land for their home because he was Chinese. Educated at Barnard and Bryn Mawr, Boggs was in her twenties when radical politics beckoned, and she was inspired to become a revolutionary focusing on the black community.
During her early years as an activist in New York, Boggs began a twenty-year friendship and collaboration with C. L. R. James, the brilliant and influential West Indian Marxist to whom she devotes a revelatory chapter of this book. In 1953, she moved to Detroit where, she writes, "radical history had been made and could be made again." It was also the home of James Boggs, an African American auto worker (and later author and revolutionary theoretician) who would become one of the movement's freshest and most persuasive voices, as well as Grace's husband. Beginning with their work together on the newsletter Correspondence, Grace and James formed the core of a network that over the years would include Malcolm X, Lyman Paine, Ping Ferry, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Kwame Nkrumah, Stokely Carmichael, and inner-city youth.
Rich in the personalities and anecdotes of twentieth-century progressive activism, Living for Change is an involving and inspiring look at a remarkable woman who continues to dedicate her life to social justice.
Grace Lee Boggs is a first-generation Chinese American who has been a speaker, writer, and movement activist in the African American community for fifty-five years.
The Chinese ideogram chi is far richer in connotation than the equivalent English verb “to eat.” Chi can also be read as “the mouth that begs for food and words.” A concept manifest in the twentieth-century Chinese political reality of revolution and massacre, chi suggests a narrative of desire that moves from lack to satiation and back again. In China such fundamental acts as eating or refusing to eat can carry enormous symbolic weight. This book examines the twentieth-century Chinese political experience as it is represented in literature through hunger, cooking, eating, and cannibalizing. At the core of Gang Yue’s argument lies the premise that the discourse surrounding the most universal of basic human acts—eating—is a culturally specific one. Yue’s discussion begins with a brief look at ancient Chinese alimentary writing and then moves on to its main concern: the exploration and textual analysis of themes of eating in modern Chinese literature from the May Fourth period through the post-Tiananmen era. The broad historical scope of this volume illustrates how widely applicable eating-related metaphors can be. For instance, Yue shows how cannibalism symbolizes old China under European colonization in the writing of Lu Xun. In Mo Yan’s 1992 novel Liquorland, however, cannibalism becomes the symbol of overindulgent consumerism. Yue considers other writers as well, such as Shen Congwen, Wang Ruowang, Lu Wenfu, Zhang Zianliang, Ah Cheng, Zheng Yi, and Liu Zhenyun. A special section devoted to women writers includes a chapter on Xiao Hong, Wang Anyi, and Li Ang, and another on the Chinese-American women writers Jade Snow Wong, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Amy Tan. Throughout, the author compares and contrasts the work of these writers with similarly themed Western literature, weaving a personal and political semiotics of eating. The Mouth That Begswill interest sinologists, literary critics, anthropologists, cultural studies scholars, and everyone curious about the semiotics of food.
The 1965 Immigration Act altered the lives and outlook of Chinese Americans in fundamental ways. The New Chinese America explores the historical, economic, and social foundations of the Chinese American community, in order to reveal the emergence of a new social hierarchy after 1965.
In this detailed and comprehensive study of contemporary Chinese America, Xiaojian Zhao uses class analysis to illuminate the difficulties of everyday survival for poor and undocumented immigrants and analyzes the process through which social mobility occurs. Through ethnic ties, Chinese Americans have built an economy of their own in which entrepreneurs can maintain a competitive edge given their access to low-cost labor; workers who are shut out of the mainstream job market can find work and make a living; and consumers can enjoy high quality services at a great bargain. While the growth of the ethnic economy enhances ethnic bonds by increasing mutual dependencies among different groups of Chinese Americans, it also determines the limits of possibility for various individuals depending on their socioeconomic and immigration status.
"We were as American as can be," states Jadin Wong in recalling the days when she used to dance at a San Francisco nightclub during the 1940s. Wong belonged to an all-Chinese chorus line at a time when all East Asians were called "Orientals." In this context, then, what did it mean for Wong, an American-born Chinese, to say that she thought of herself as an "American"? Of Orphans and Warriors explores the social and cultural history of largely urban, American-born Chinese from the 1930s through the 1990s, focusing primarily on those living in California. Chun thus opens a window onto the ways in which these Americans born of Chinese ancestry negotiated their identity over a half century.
Past scholarship has portrayed these individuals as desiring to assimilate into mainstream American culture, but being prevented from doing so by the immigrant parent generation. Taking a new approach, Chun uses memoirs, autobiographies, and fictional writings to unravel complex issues of ethnic identity as both culturally defined and individually negotiated. She concludes that, while indeed many Chinese Americans were caught between the lures of mainstream American culture and their parents' old-world values, this liminal position offered them unprecedented opportunities to carve out new identities for themselves from a position of strength.
Ono Ono Girl's Hula
Carolyn Lei-lanilau University of Wisconsin Press, 1997 Library of Congress E184.C5L55 1997 | Dewey Decimal 996.9004951
Both playful and serious, this audacious riff on ethnic and sexual identity by Hawaiian-Hakka Chinese-American writer Carolyn Lei-lanilau revolves around the persona she calls “Ono Ono Girl,” an icon that interweaves and transcends Lucille Ball, Little Lulu, Tina Turner, and Spottie Dottie. Challenging assumptions about genre and gender, and acting out the notion that language is a function of the body, these essays are transforming soundbytes of Ono Ono Girl inventing herself.
“Just when you thought American literature was canonized and commodified beyond saving, Carolyn Lei-lanilau’s intertextual, irreverent work, Ono Ono Girl’s Hula, brings language and philosophy back to the table. Her book is a miracle delivery: a rebirth of poetry, Third World Spam, and love wrapped around the hybrid vigor of Hawaiian, Hakka, French, Latin, and English. Soulful, powerful, and wise.”—Russell Leong, editor of Amerasia Journal
“A book enjoyable equally for its fun as for its profundity, Carolyn Lei-lanilau’s Ono Ono Girl’s Hula is irresistible must reading for feminists, anthropologists, contemporary culture buffs, and anyone who wants a refreshing take on some of our more vexing current disputes. Down-to-earth and poetic, serious and hilarious at once, her unconventional voice invites the reader to understand the paradoxes of identity—sexual and ethnic—in new ways.”—Robin Lakoff, author of Talking Power
This fascinating book reveals that Chinese Americans began “shooting hoops” nearly a century before Chinese superstar Yao Ming turned pro. Drawing on interviews with players and coaches, Outside the Paint takes readers back to San Francisco in the 1930s and 1940s, when young Chinese American men and women developed a new approach to the game—with fast breaks, intricate passing and aggressive defense—that was ahead of its time.
Every chapter tells a surprising story: the Chinese Playground, the only public outdoor space in Chinatown; the Hong Wah Kues, a professional barnstorming men’s basketball team; the Mei Wahs, a championship women’s amateur team; Woo Wong, the first Chinese athlete to play in Madison Square Garden; and the extraordinarily talented Helen Wong, whom Kathleen Yep compares to Babe Didrikson.
Outside the Paint chronicles the efforts of these highly accomplished athletes who developed a unique playing style that capitalized on their physical attributes, challenged the prevailing racial hierarchy, and enabled them, for a time, to leave the confines of their segregated world. They learned to dribble, shoot, and steal.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 made the Chinese the first immigrant group officially excluded from the United States. In Paper Families, Estelle T. Lau demonstrates how exclusion affected Chinese American communities and initiated the development of restrictive U.S. immigration policies and practices. Through the enforcement of the Exclusion Act and subsequent legislation, the U.S. immigration service developed new forms of record keeping and identification practices. Meanwhile, Chinese Americans took advantage of the system’s loophole: children of U.S. citizens were granted automatic eligibility for immigration. The result was an elaborate system of “paper families,” in which U.S. citizens of Chinese descent claimed fictive, or “paper,” children who could then use their kinship status as a basis for entry into the United States. This subterfuge necessitated the creation of “crib sheets” outlining genealogies and providing village maps and other information that could be used during immigration processing.
Drawing on these documents as well as immigration case files, legislative materials, and transcripts of interviews and court proceedings, Lau reveals immigration as an interactive process. Chinese immigrants and their U.S. families were subject to regulation and surveillance, but they also manipulated and thwarted those regulations, forcing the U.S. government to adapt its practices and policies. Lau points out that the Exclusion Acts and the pseudo-familial structures that emerged in response have had lasting effects on Chinese American identity. She concludes with a look at exclusion’s legacy, including the Confession Program of the 1960s that coerced people into divulging the names of paper family members and efforts made by Chinese American communities to recover their lost family histories.
In this remarkable memoir, Tung Pok Chin casts light on the largely hidden experience of those Chinese who immigrated to this country with false documents during the exclusion era. Although scholars have pieced together their history, first-person accounts are rare and fragmented; many of the so-called "Paper Sons" lived out their lives in silent fear of discovery. Chin's story speaks for the many Chinese who worked in urban laundries and restaurants, but it also introduces an unusually articulate man's perspective on becoming Chinese American.
Chin's story begins in the early 1930s, when he followed the example of his father and countless other Chinese who bought documents that falsely identified them as children of Chinese Americans. Arriving in Boston and later moving to New York City, he worked and lived in laundries. Chin was determined to fit into American life and dedicated himself to learning English. But he also became an active member of key organizations -- a church, the Chinese Hand Laundrymen's Alliance, and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association -- that anchored him in the community. A self-reflective and expressive man, Chin wrote poetry commenting on life in China and the hardships of being an immigrant in the United States. His work was regularly published in the China Daily News and brought him to the attention of the FBI, then intent on ferreting out communists and illegal immigrants. His vigorous narrative speaks to the day-to-day anxieties of living as a Paper Son as well as the more universal immigrant experiences of raising a family in modest circumstances and bridging cultures.
Historian K. Scott Wong introduces Chin's memoir, discussing the limitations on immigration from China and what is known about Exclusion-era Chinese American communities. Set in historical context, Tung Pok Chin's unique story offers and engaging account of a twentieth-century Paper Son.
Paper Sons: A Memoir
Dickson Lam Autumn House Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3612.A543283Z46 2018 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Set in a public housing project in San Francisco, Lam's memoir explores his transformation from a teenage graffiti writer to a high school teacher working with troubled youth while navigating the secret violence in his immigrant's family's past.
Advertised in Asia as "The Chinese Beverly Hills," this small city minutes east of downtown Los Angeles, became by the late 1970s a regional springboard for a new type of Chinese immigration—suburban and middle class with a diversified and globally-oriented economy. Freed from the isolation of old Chinatowns, new immigrants now confronted resistance from more established Anglo, Asian American, and Latino neighbors, whose opposition took the form of interconnected "English Only" and slow-growth movements.
In The Politics of Diversity, a multiethnic team of researches employ ethnography, interviewing, and exit polls to capture the process of change as newcomers and established residents come to terms with the meaning of diversity and identity in their everyday lives. The result is an engaging grass-roots account of immigration and change: the decline of the loyal old-boy Anglo network; the rise of women, minorities, and immigrants in the political scene; and a transformation of ethnic and American identities.
LuMing Mao offers an important discussion of the rhetoric of Chinese American speakers, which has wide implications for the teaching of writing in English and for our understanding of cross-cultural influences in discourse.
Recent scholarship tends to explain such influences as contributing to language hybridity---an advance over the traditional "deficit model." But Mao suggests that the "hybridity" approach is perhaps too arid or sanitized, missing rich nuances of mutual exchange, resistance, or even subversion. Working from Ang's concept of "togetherness in difference," Mao suggests that speakers of hybrid discourse may not be attempting the standard (and failing), but instead may be deliberately importing cultural material to create a distance between themselves and the standard. This practice, over time, becomes a process that transforms English, enriching and enlarging it through the infusion of non-Western discourse features, subverting power structures, and even providing unique humorous touches.
Of interest to scholars in composition, cultural studies, and linguistics as well, Reading Chinese Fortune Cookie leads in an important new direction for both our understanding and our teaching of English.
Winner of the 1998 Robert Park Award for Best Book in Community and Urban Sociology
An exploration of this fascinating community as a window on globalization.
In the American popular imagination, Chinatown is a mysterious and dangerous place, clannish and dilapidated, filled with sweatshops, vice, and organized crime. In this well-written and engaging volume, Jan Lin presents a real-world picture of New York City's Chinatown, countering this "orientalist" view by looking at the human dimensions and the larger forces of globalization that make this vital neighborhood both unique and broadly instructive.
Using interviews with residents, firsthand observation, archival research, and U.S. census data, Lin delivers an informed, reliable picture of Chinatown today. Lin claims that to understand contemporary ethnic neighborhoods like this one we must dispense with notions of monolithic "community." When he looks at Chinatown, Lin sees a neighborhood that is being rebuilt, both literally and economically. Rather than a clannish and unified peer group, he sees substantial class inequality and internal social conflict. There is also social change, most visibly manifested in dramatic episodes of collective action by sweatshop workers and community activists and in the growing influence of Chinatown's denizens in electoral politics.
Popular portrayals of Chinatown also reflect a new global reality: as American cities change with the international economy, traditional assumptions about immigrant incorporation into U.S. society alter as well. Lin describes the public disquiet and official response regarding immigration, sweatshops, and the influx of Asian capital. He outlines the ways that local, state, and federal governments have directed and gained from globalization in Chinatown through banking deregulation and urban redevelopment policy.
Finally, Lin puts forth Chinatown as a central enclave in the "world city" of New York, arguing that globalization brings similar structural processes of urban change to diverse locations. In the end, Lin moves beyond the myth of Chinatown, clarifying the meaning of globalization and its myriad effects within the local context.
"Reconstructing Chinatown is a significant work that is relevant in several fields. It is probably the best book on Chinatown because it covers several critically important topics in examining life in Chinatown, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative data. Second, it is a great contribution to the race and ethnic relations field because its deconstruction of negative stereotypical images provides an alternative model for examining immigrants and ethnic enclaves. Finally, this book has nicely connected the field of race and ethnic relations with urban studies by examining an ethnic enclave with the 'global city' perspective. This book is ideal as a textbook for courses related to Asian American communities, urban studies, and race and ethnic relations, particularly at the graduate level." American Journal of Sociology
"The book's most significant contribution is to problematize the public stereotypes of Chinese workers as servile and accepting victims in the debased environment of Chinatown. It has provided empirical evidence to demonstrate that despite internal conflicts and power struggles, collective actions are likely to consolidate a sense of group solidarity and political empowerment. Overall, the book is highly recommended for those who are interested in taking a critical approach to race and ethnic studies, immigration issues and the development of ethnic enclaves in North America." Canadian Journal of Sociology Online
"The book succeeds at many levels. Especially in its excellent descriptions of historical contexts and contemporary events, its outstanding comparisons among a variety of ethnic groups and places, and its superb discussions on the globalization of capital and labor and their imprints on local communities. It should be applauded that Lin's well-organized and well-written book contributes significantly to our understanding of New York's Chinatown, an ever-changing urban ethnic enclave." Urban Geography
Jan Lin is associate professor of sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He previously taught at Amherst College and the University of Houston.
In Remaking Chinese America, Xiaojian Zhao explores the myriad forces that changed and unified Chinese Americans during a key period in American history. Prior to 1940, this immigrant community was predominantly male, but between 1940 and 1965 it was transformed into a family-centered American ethnic community. Zhao pays special attention to forces both inside and outside of the country in order to explain these changing demographics. She scrutinizes the repealed exclusion laws and the immigration laws enacted after 1940. Careful attention is also paid to evolving gender roles, since women constituted the majority of newcomers, significantly changing the sex ratio of the Chinese American population.
As members of a minority sharing a common cultural heritage as well as pressures from the larger society, Chinese Americans networked and struggled to gain equal rights during the cold war period. In defining the political circumstances that brought the Chinese together as a cohesive political body, Zhao also delves into the complexities they faced when questioning their personal national allegiances. Remaking Chinese America uses a wealth of primary sources, including oral histories, newspapers, genealogical documents, and immigration files to illuminate what it was like to be Chinese living in the United States during a period that—until now—has been little studied.
The biography of Dr. Hwa-Wei Lee, who was awarded the highly prestigious Melvil Dewey Medal by the American Library Association in 2015, will be welcomed by readers interested in knowing not only more about Lee’s personal achievements and contributions in librarianship but also about the rapid changes in the library profession in general. The biography, written by Ms. Yang Yang of China Central Television in Beijing, was first published in Chinese in China in 2011. It was republished in Taiwan with added information in 2014. This English edition, translated by Dr. Ying Zhang of the University of California in Irvine, was updated by Lee.
Throughout his childhood and youth, Lee experienced tremendous hardship during the brutal Sino-Japanese War and then the Chinese civil war, described in the first three chapters. After arriving in the United States as a graduate student from Taiwan in 1957, he struggled to realize the American dream by studying hard and working diligently in the field of librarianship for nearly half a century.
The biography explores Lee’s career at major academic libraries, beginning at the University of Pittsburgh to his retirement from Ohio University, including his seven years of library directorship at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand, under the sponsorship of the U.S. Agency for International Development. After his first retirement, Lee was invited by OCLC to become a Visiting Distinguished Scholar. From there he was appointed Chief of the Asian Division at the Library of Congress and retired for the second time in 2008.
The biography also highlights Lee’s contributions in international librarianship, especially in the promotion of library cooperation between the United States and China.
In the 1800s, when California was captivated by gold fever, a small group of Chinese immigrants recognized the fortune to be made from the untapped resources along the state’s coast, particularly from harvesting the black abalone of southern and Baja California. These immigrants, with skills from humble beginnings in a traditional Chinese fishing province, founded California’s commercial abalone industry, and led its growth and expansion for several decades. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, their successful livelihood was stolen from them through targeted legislation of the U.S. and California governments.
Today, the physical evidence of historical Chinese abalone fishing on the mainland has been erased by development. On California’s Channel Islands, however, remnants of temporary abalone collecting and processing camps lie scattered along the coastlines. These sites hold a treasure trove of information, stories, lifeways, and history. Braje has excavated many of these sites and uses them to explore the history of Chinese abalone fishing, presenting a microcosm of the broader history of Chinese immigrants in America—their struggles, their successes, the institutionalized racism they faced, and the unique ways in which they helped to shape the identity of the United States.
Family and home are one word—jia—in the Chinese language. Family can be separated and home may be relocated, but jia remains intact. It signifies a system of mutual obligation, lasting responsibility, and cultural values. This strong yet flexible sense of kinship has enabled many Chinese immigrant families to endure long physical separation and accommodate continuities and discontinuities in the process of social mobility.
Based on an analysis of over three thousand family letters and other primary sources, including recently released immigration files from the National Archives and Records Administration, Haiming Liu presents a remarkable transnational history of a Chinese family from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s. For three generations, the family lived between the two worlds. While the immigrant generation worked hard in an herbalist business and asparagus farming, the younger generation crossed back and forth between China and America, pursuing proper education, good careers, and a meaningful life during a difficult period of time for Chinese Americans. When social instability in China and hostile racial environment in America prevented the family from being rooted in either side of the Pacific, transnational family life became a focal point of their social existence.
This well-documented and illustrated family history makes it clear that, for many Chinese immigrant families, migration does not mean a break from the past but the beginning of a new life that incorporates and transcends dual national boundaries. It convincingly shows how transnationalism has become a way of life for Chinese American families.
During the last two decades, many U.S. universities have restructured themselves to operate more like corporations. Nowhere has this process been more dramatic than at New York University, which has often been touted as an exemplar of the "corporate university." Over the same period, an academic labor movement has arisen in response to this corporatization. Using the unprecedented 2005 strike by the graduate student union at NYU as a springboard, The University Against Itself provides a brief history of labor organizing on American campuses, analyzes the state of academic labor today, and speculates about how the university workplace may evolve for employees.
All of the contributors were either participants in the NYU strike -- graduate students, faculty, and organizers -- or are nationally recognized as writers on academic labor. They are deeply troubled by the ramifications of corporatizing universities. Here they spell out their concerns, offering lessons from one historic strike as well as cautions about the future of all universities.
Contributors include: Stanley Aronowitz, Barbara Bowen, Andrew Cornell, Ashley Dawson, Stephen Duncombe, Steve Fletcher, Greg Grandin, Adam Green, Kitty Krupat, Gordon Lafer, Micki McGee, Sarah Nash, Cary Nelson, Matthew Osypowski, Ed Ott, Ellen Schrecker, Susan Valentine, and the editors.
Who Am I? is the bittersweet memoir of a Chinese American who came to this country as a twenty-year-old graduate student and stayed to become one of America’s most innovative intellectuals, whose work has explored the aesthetic and moral dimensions of human relations with landscape, nature, and environment. This unusually introspective autobiography mixes Yi-Fu Tuan’s reflections on a life filled with recognition, accolades, and affection with what he deems moral failings, his lack of courage—including the courage to be open about his homosexuality.
Music and performance provide a unique window into the ways that cultural information is circulated and perceptions are constructed. Because they both require listening, are inherently ephemeral, and most often involve collaboration between disparate groups, they inform cultural perceptions differently from literary or visual art forms, which tend to be more tangible and stable.
In Yellowface, Krystyn R. Moon explores the contributions of writers, performers, producers, and consumers in order to demonstrate how popular music and performance has played an important role in constructing Chinese and Chinese American stereotypes. The book brings to life the rich musical period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During this time, Chinese and Chinese American musicians and performers appeared in a variety of venues, including museums, community theaters, and world’s fairs, where they displayed their cultural heritage and contested anti-Chinese attitudes. A smaller number crossed over into vaudeville and performed non-Chinese materials. Moon shows how these performers carefully navigated between racist attitudes and their own artistic desires.
While many scholars have studied both African American music and blackface minstrelsy, little attention has been given to Chinese and Chinese American music. This book provides a rare look at the way that immigrants actively participated in the creation, circulation, and, at times, subversion of Chinese stereotypes through their musical and performance work.