Writing Inequality, Endurance, and Transnationalism: The Archaeology of Chinese and Japanese Immigrants and their Descendants in North America

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

This session brings together archaeologists investigating Chinese and Japanese American/Canadian experiences in the late 19th and early- to mid-20th century North America. Rather than focus on either group, we touch upon a range of research so as to map the diversity of archaeological thought. Presenters will share research goals, theoretical and methodological concepts, and/or outreach and collaborative practices used to investigate everything from railroad workers to racial exclusion. Through this symposium, we will address three questions: What has been done thus far? What and where are the theoretical and topical convergences and divergences? And where do we go from here? In addressing this topic in such a broad manner, we hope to create the kind of disciplinary networks and dialogue necessary to critically and self-reflexively engage in the writing of Chinese and Japanese American/Canadian history in North America.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-6 of 6)

  • Documents (6)

  • After the Railroad: An examination of Chinese in Sandpoint, Idaho (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Molly Swords. Mark Warner. Margaret Clark.

    Like other western American railroad towns, Sandpoint, Idaho, saw an influx of thousands of Chinese workers during railroad construction in the twilight of the 1800s. Most workers moved on as construction of the railroad continued down the line. Examination of a Chinese laundry excavation provides an interesting snapshot of the lives those workers who stayed and made Sandpoint their home. This business was also a residence and the collection provides an opportunity to study both the private and...

  • Chawan and Yunomi: Japanese Tablewares Recovered from Three Issei Communities in the American West (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Renae J. Campbell.

    Japanese-manufactured ceramics from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been recovered from a variety of archaeological sites throughout Western North America, but large collections and in-depth analyses of pre-World War II assemblages are still relatively rare.  As a result, standardized formal, temporal, and functional typologies are only just emerging and site comparisons are often difficult.  This paper presents a synthesis of ceramic data from three west coast sites...

  • Contexts and Consequences of Racialized Labor Relations between Japanese American Workers and Sawmill Town Management in the Pacific Northwest (1890 to 1930) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David R Carlson.

    This paper will explore the historical context surrounding the relationships between Japanese American sawmill workers and sawmill town management in the early 20th century Pacific Northwest. Japanese American sawmill workers found themselves in a highly racialized labor structure, where they were often regulated to hard labor, "low skill" positions. At the same time, there is evidence to suggest that these workers successfully negotiated with sawmill town management, while taking advantage of...

  • Ethnic Markers and Comparative Approaches to the Asian Diaspora (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Douglas Ross.

    Direct comparisons between Chinese and non-Chinese sites go back decades. However, most current Asian diaspora archaeology focuses on single-household or single-community case studies, with comparative work limited to using ethnically-linked artifacts to explore patterns of cultural persistence and change or present evidence for interethnic interaction with neighboring communities. Here, I argue that we need to spend more time conducting direct and detailed comparisons between households and...

  • Expressions of Ethnicity in a Modern World, Archaeological and Historical Traces of Pre-WWII Japanese-American Culture (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lorelea Hudson.

    Artifacts and structures produce data for historical archaeology. They can be used to construct chronologies, explore social arrangements, and identify function and ethnic groups.  Japanese men came as laborers to the Pacific Northwest in the late 19th century, working in logging camps, on the railroad, and in other industrial settings. By the early 20th century, Japanese families (re)turned to farming as they sought greater economic opportunity. Two such first generation Japanese families, the...

  • Idaho Gold: An Analysis of the Ophir Creek Brewery, a nineteenth century Chinese Community (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Heather L Sargent-Gross.

    In 1860 gold was found in Pierce, Idaho. By 1870, the population of the Boise Basin alone reached 3,834 individuals, 46 percent of whom were Chinese. Many immigrants settled in Placerville, Idaho. Between 2002-2003 archaeologists at the Boise National Forest conducted excavations at the Ophir Creek Brewery. This work discusses excavations at the Ophir Creek Brewery, a part of town occupied by many of the Chinese immigrants. Analysis of the archaeological materials recovered from the Ophir Creek...