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Being Chinese: Current Scholarship on the Chinese Diaspora in 19th-Century North America

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2016

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-14 of 14)

  • Documents (14)


  • Artifacts From The Chinese Quarter Of Jacksonville, OR – The Chemical Story (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Kristine Madsen. Elizabeth Harman. Ray von Wandruszka. Chelsea Rose.

    Analytical chemistry is a valuable tool in the identification of historical artifacts for which visual inspection is inconclusive. This is often the case with bottles and jars holding unknown materials, especially when the containers themselves provide little or no evidence. Several of the artifacts recovered from the historical Chinese Quarter of Jacksonville, OR, were of this type. They included a variety of medicine bottles and vials with contents that could only be identified through...

  • Chinese Immigrant Life in late-19th-century San Jose, California: Macroremains from Market Street Chinatown (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Virginia S. Popper.

    Food provides an excellent means for exploring the experiences of the Overseas Chinese because it is integral to cultural identity and reflects adaptations to new environmental, economic, and social settings. Plant remains recovered from the late-19th-century Chinatown in San Jose, California, present a picture of the complexity of Chinatown life. They represent a variety of activities such as purchasing food and medicine from local farms and Chinese grocery stores to prepare for daily meals and...

  • Chinese Railroad Workers At Central Pacific Stations Ca. 1870s-1880s (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Michael Polk.

    The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) was completed in May 1869. Much of the work on that railroad was carried out by more than 10,000 ethnic Chinese workers. After completion of the railroad many, if not most, of them either returned to China or left for work in the mining industry or construction on other railroads. However, a large number remained with the CPRR to work on railroad maintenance. Ethnic Chinese appear to have been a dominant labor force through the mid 1880s, perhaps longer, as...

  • Commercial Connections in the Chinese Diaspora (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT John P. Molenda.

    What do Chinese work camps in the American West tell us about emergent capitalist networks in the mid-nineteenth century? This talk will draw upon current archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork as well as historical studies to contextualize the historical archaeology of Chinese railroad laborers. The extant archaeological remains found on work camps - hearths, ceramic sherds, game pieces, etc - only tell part of the story. A focus on remittances, and the transnational flow of cash, goods,...

  • Decolonizing the Persuasive Power of Paradigms and Discourse (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Kelly Fong.

    The historical archaeologies of the Chinese Diaspora has made progress departing from its assimilation/acculturation roots.  There remains, however, much room for future growth, particularly from a critical Ethnic Studies/Asian American Studies standpoint.  This paper utilizes an interdisciplinary perspective to consider how increased self-reflexivity along with critical interrogation and consciousness must be integral to how we approach our work on racialized communities.  We must question the...

  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Remapping Spatial Networks and Social Complexity of the Chinese Immigrant Mining Diaspora in Southern Oregon (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Chelsea E. Rose.

    Like other aspects of Western historiography, the story of the Chinese diaspora in the gold fields has been circumscribed by exotic tales of vice, violence, and alienation.  The legacy of frontier rhetoric has continued to impact scholarship through assumptions of scarcity, isolation, and discrimination.  While discriminatory laws and racial tensions certainly impacted the lives of the nineteenth century Chinese living in southern Oregon, they did not wholly define them.  This paper will...

  • "Let My Body Be Buried Here": Taking a Long View of Chinese Immigrants to the American West (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Adrian C. Praetzellis. Mary K Praetzellis.

    Many Chinese immigrants spent much of their lives abroad, changing their attitudes toward the host country and picking up cultural competencies. Immigrants joining 1850s communities faced different circumstances than those arriving in the 1880s; and those who remained into the 1920s lived much differently than they would have earlier. Yee Ah Tye was born around 1820 in southern China. He came to California early in the Gold Rush, married, and was the father of many children. Before he died in...

  • Life Along the Grade: Archaeology of the Chinese Railroad Builders and Maintenance Crews in Utah (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Kenneth Cannon. Chris Merritt.

    Between 1867 and 1904, hundreds of Chinese workers lived and labored along the railroad grade in deeply rural northwestern Utah. Small section houses served as the only reprieve from the toil of daily labore in the treeless and sun scorched landscapes of Box Elder County. Archaeological inventory spurred by a National Park Service Initiative is identifying sites previously unknown to scholars. These sites are shedding light on the life and experience of the 11-15 Chinese section crews in this...

  • Life and Death on the Edge: 19th Century Chinese Abalone Fisheries on California’s Channel Islands (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Linda Bentz. Todd Braje.

    Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Chinese immigrants built the first commercial abalone fishery along the western edge of North America. These fishers harvested tons of abalone meat and shells from intertidal waters and shipped their products to markets in mainland China and America. Chinese abalone harvesting sites still are preserved on California’s Channel Islands, and over the last decade archaeologists have become increasingly interested in documenting the material record.  Using...

  • Meat Economies of the Chinese-American West (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Charlotte K Sunseri.

    Cuisine and diet are topics of particular interest to scholars of Chinese communities in the Nineteenth-century American West. Many zooarchaeological analyses have identified beef and pork among the main provisions for miners and townsfolk, and this paper will synthesize archaeological and historical evidence for food access and supply while exploring contexts of socioeconomics and cuisine which likely structured food choices. By focusing on both urban and rural sites to compare access and food...

  • Taking Time to Relax: Leisure Activities of Chinese Railroad Workers (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Sarah Heffner.

    Chinese who worked on the transcontinental railroads often endured long hours of dangerous, backbreaking work. A typical work week lasted from Monday to Saturday, sunrise to sunset. Sundays were spent washing and mending clothes and participating in leisure activities. Railroad workers carried few belongings with them as they had to be able to quickly pack up camp and move to the next construction stop. This paper explores how Chinese railroad workers entertained themselves with few material...

  • Tastes for New and Old: Fish Consumption in the Market Street Chinatown (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Ryan Kennedy.

    The Market Street Chinatown was a bustling Chinese community in nineteenth-century San Jose, California, and its residents mixed the traditional and novel throughout their lives. This is especially the case in food practices, where Market Street’s residents consumed Chinese foods alongside new ingredients from North America. In this paper, I explore how fish consumption among Market Street’s residents was driven by notions of taste in nineteenth-century Southern China, where fish played a...

  • Using GIS and Lidar to Re-imagine Historic Immigrant Chinese Placer Mining Landscapes (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT don hann.

    The Kam Wah Chung building is a National Historic Landmark with a trove of artifacts and documents recovered from the historic "Chinatown" in John Day, Oregon. Interpretation of the site has been hampered by loss of associated immigrant Chinese gold mining remains due to later development. Recent work in the neighboring Malheur National Forest has identified an extensive placer mining complex with associated Chinese artifacts and features. The mining complex was located using lidar and GIS...

  • Why "Chinese Diaspora" Is More Than Just An Ethnic Label (2016)
    Citation DOCUMENT Douglas Ross.

    Some scholars, myself included, have recently argued in favour of a shift from "Overseas Chinese" to "Chinese Diaspora" as the most appropriate name for our field of study. But are we simply substituting one interchangeable ethnic label for another in accordance with intellectual trends? I argue that the term "diaspora" can potentially unite our disparate research interests because it brings with it a valuable body of theory that helps us understand the process of overseas Chinese migration and...

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America