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  1. lecture 2paper sons/paper daughters The Chinese in CA and FaeMyenne Ng’s Bone

  2. “wah gung” • “wah gung” = migrating laboreror sojourner • 1840s-1850s Chinese immigration influenced by: • First Opium War • Depressed agricultural output • Peasant rebellions • Interethnic strife • Contract labor system • The cycle of center and periphery: • centers of commerce and manufacturing penetrate into less industrialized nations (periphery) in search of new markets & raw materials causing instability of local economies • Inhabitants of periphery migrate to further develop center’s economy as laborers

  3. “Tan Heung Shan” & “Gam Saan” • 1840s-50s – beginning of recruitment of Chinese labor; 46,000 to HI and 380,000 to mainland • Tan Heung Shan = Fragrant Sandalwood Hills (HI) • Gam Saan = Gold Mountain (CA) • Key to sugar plantation explosion = cheap labor • 1870 – 1910 – “Sugar is king”; US business interests develop rapid and large amount of plantations • 1875 – Reciprocity Treaty between Kingdom of HI and US; no duties on HI sugar to US • 1898 – annexation of HI and colonization of PI

  4. CA Bachelor Societies • Immigrants = mostly young, peasant class men primarily from Guangdong province • Confucian values enforce strict gender hierarchy • “hostage theory” • CA nativist and racist sentiment + need for mobile labor force • Page Law of 1875 – prohibition of entry of Chinese “prostitutes” essentially closes mainland to women • Encouragement of Chinese settlement in HI: • Small native population and only 6% of total island population was white • Control of plantation social life • Importation of successive waves of ethnic Asian labor (Japanese, Korean, Filipino) seen as key to managing labor costs

  5. History of Chinese Labor in CA • 1849 – CA gold rush; 325 Chinese immigrants initially with exponential increases every year • 1852 – Foreign Miner’s Tax • 1855 – tax on all ship captains transporting Chinese • 1862 – tax on Chinese living in state (except licensed miners) • 1865 – Chinese begin to leave gold fields for railroads • Central Pacific RR constructed by 90% Chinese labor • 1870 – 63,000 in US; 77% in CA; 25% of CA workforce • Move from RR to manufacturing & agriculture • 1870s – labor competition begins to force Chinese into service industry & self-employment, primarily laundries

  6. “The Chinese Laundryman”:Gender, Race, Labor • By 1900 – 1 out of every 4 working Chinese males was a “laundryman” • Changing conditions of capital and labor as well as racialization force Chinese into laundry industry, performing what has been traditionally defined as “women’s work” • “The Chinese laundryman does not learn his trade in China; there are no laundries in China… The women there do the washing in tubs and have no washboards and flat irons. All the Chinese laundrymen here [in America] were taught in the first place by American women just as I was taught” (Lee Chew quoted in Strangers from a Different Shore) • Historical conditions force a gendered racialization – that to be Chinese is associated with emasculation as well as perpetual foreignness

  7. “The Heathen Chinee” • By 1870, there are 2 whites and 1 Chinese for every available job in SF causing white laborers to target Chinese as both economic & social threats • Idea of “heathen Chinee” pulls on racialist stereotypes of blacks and native Americans: • “red man” versus “yellow horde” of the frontier • Comparison of “coolie labor” to slave labor – assumed moral inferiority and savagery but Chinese threat of inscrutability and craftiness • Bret Harte’s poem: “Which is why I remark, /And my language is plain, / That for ways that are dark / And for tricks that are vain, / The heathen Chinee is peculiar, / Which the same I am free to maintain.”

  8. 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act • late 1870’s to 1880s – after rapid economic expansion, US experiences cyclical downturn • Chinese targeted as cause of unrest between white capital and labor – further cementing Chinese racialization as perpetual foreigners while reconciling class conflict among white majority • 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act • “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, … until the expiration of ten years next…, [that] the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come [to] the United States. • Population declines from 105, 465 in 1880 to 61,639 by 1920

  9. Early Chinatowns • By 1850s – San Francisco Chinatown had already begun to emerge • Ethnic enclaves shaped by racist housing practices, anti-miscegenation acts & prohibition of immigration of Chinese women • Offered space of community and support: • Business associations, ex. Chinese Hand Laundry Association • Tongs – initially secret societies of mutual self-help • Fongs – village associations • Huiguan – district associations; ex. Chinese Six Companies

  10. paper sons/paper daughters • April 18, 1906 – San Francisco earthquake • destroys almost all municipal records making it possible to claim that one was born in US & automatically a citizen • Further loophole – a child of a US citizen even if he/she is born abroad is automatically US citizen • “paper sons” – Chinese immigrants enter US claiming to be children of American citizens • 1907 – 1924 – 10,000 Chinese female immigrants arrive • 1910-1940 – all immigrants to CA (mostly Chinese) must pass through Angel Island for inspection • By 1943 – 50,000 Chinese had entered through Angel Island • 10% of all Chinese immigrants were deported

  11. 20th Century Chinatown • By 1920, 58% of Chinese population primarily work in urbanized service sector – laundries & restaurants • “woi” – collective loan fund between families and clans • By 1940 – 91% of Chinese lived in metropolitan areas, primarily SF, NY, LA • Chinatown begins to function as tourist site – “gilded ghettos” • Ex: in wake of SF earthquake, Chinatown is purposely rebuilt in more Orientalist fashion; during 1930s, SF Chamber of Commerce advertises Chinatown as tourist attraction • Influx of “paper sons/daughters” allows for sizable second generation to emerge finally in 20th century

  12. Main Characters of Ng’s Bone Mah Lyman Fu Leila (Narrator) Tommie Hom Mason Leon Leong Ona(suicide) Nina (lives in NY)

  13. Questions to consider: • Why is the novel’s title Bone? What do bones come to symbolize? • What is the reason for Ona’s suicide? Why does each family member attribute her death to different reasons? • Why do you think the novel lacks a linear narrative? Why does it begin and end when it does? • How does Leon’s life as a “paper son” define the life of his daughters?