Shaping and Reshaping Chinese American Identity: New York's Chinese during the Depression and World War II

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9780739143070: Shaping and Reshaping Chinese American Identity: New York's Chinese during the Depression and World War II
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Shaping and Reshaping Chinese American Identity: New York's Chinese in the Years of the Depression and World War II explores the role played by Chinese Americans in New York in the 1930's who laid the foundation for future generations to fight for civil rights as American citizens. The stories of Chinese Americans during the Depression years and World War II are under-represented in the existing literature that has been confined to the early days of the settlement of Chinese Americans on the west coast of the United States. They were usually depicted as passive victims of exclusion as a result of Chinese Exclusion Laws. This book focuses on the active participation of the Chinese American in New York City in mainstream political, economic, and social life that helped them to forge new identity as Chinese Americans. Their active participation in federal and local elections as a means of claiming their rights as American citizens demonstrated their growing political consciousness.

Chinese New Yorkers' support of both China and United States during the war reflected their dual identity as both Chinese and Americans. Their contributions to the war front and to the home front after Pearl Harbor eventually forced the reconsideration of the Chinese Exclusion Laws. The book concludes by relating the active participation of the Chinese in New York during the war years to the national movement for racial equality that resulted in new federal civil rights legislation.

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About the Author:

Jingyi Song is an associate professor in the Department of History & Philosophy at State University of New York at Old Westbury.

Review:

Based on solid research and deep analysis, Jingyi Song has shed new light on the study of Chinese America and the Chinese American identity. With sharp focus on the Chinese community in the New York City, Song has revealed that the Chinese Americans were not only victims of exclusion and segregation, but also tenacious fighters for their equal rights as American citizens. It is through their unprecedented broad and deep participation that the Chinese Americans reshaped their own identity and at the same time contributed to the building of a more open and inclusive American society. Song's unique approach has offered the badly needed insights to the diversity of the Chinese American community and the dynamics of the making of the Chinese American identity (Hongshan Li, Kent State University)

Shaping and Reshaping Chinese American Identity provides a rare glimpse into the history of the Chinese American experience in urban America. Based on extensive multi-archival research, the author moves this study away from the usual individual-centered approach and instead looks at both groups and the community with a more balanced view at their economic, cultural, political, and intellectual interactions. This distinctive analytic framework has opened a new forum, blown fresh air into the field, and shed new light on many important questions. (Xiaobing Li, University of Central Oklahoma)

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