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Historical Archaeologies of Overseas Chinese Laborers on the Transcontinental Railroad

John Molenda, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology Columbia University
Thursday, December 8, 2016
12:00-1:00 PM
Room 2009 Ruthven Museums Building Map
This talk will provide an overview of current research on Overseas Chinese communities in the United States, focusing in particular on work camps occupied by the Chinese laborers who built the first transcontinental railroad during the late 1860s. While historical archaeologists have investigated sites occupied by ChineseAmericans since the 1960s, the past decade has seen both a burst of new research activities as well as increased public interest. The audience will be introduced to the basic artifact types found on sites occupied by Overseas Chinese in the 19th century. Issues addressed will include distribution mechanisms as well as the role of particular artifacts for group bonding -and- marking social difference. I will draw parallels between the challenges faced by Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth century and our current political situation, focusing on the meaning of labor, the racial construction of the United States, and variant moral discourses. Finally, I will summarize what questions remain to be answered and what we can expect from the sub-field in the coming years.
Building: Ruthven Museums Building
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Anthropology, Archaeology
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Museum of Anthropological Archaeology