Author:McClain, Laurene Wu

This 2011 edition of Chinese America: History & Perspectives explores the status of Chinese in the United States from the 1830s to 2008. The articles provide us with insights into how White America reacted to a Chinese woman during the era of Andrew Jackson, how a Caucasian elementary school teacher encouraged children in Chicago to emphasize Chinese cultural heritage in performances throughout the city during the 1930s, how three Chinese Americans--Chingwah Lee, Laura Lai, and Arthur Tom--overcame obstacles to become successful in their respective endeavors during the mid-twentieth century, how a Taiwanese restaurant specializing in Shanghai-style dumplings established a franchise store in Southern California in 2000, and finally, how transnational travel affects the identities of Chinese children adopted by U.S. families in the twenty-first century.

"The Chinese Lady and China for the Ladies: Race, Gender, and Public Exhibition in Jacksonian America" by John Haddad tells us about importers Nathaniel and Frederick Carne, who had been selling expensive luxury goods from France to wealthy Americans, but by the 1830s saw that the rising middle class in the United States was a potential market for high-quality but less expensive products from China. Hoping to sell such goods as shawls, silk boxes, lacquered furniture, fans, and snuffboxes in America, the Carnes wanted a marketing strategy that would draw attention quickly and dramatically to their products. They worked with one Captain Obear, who persuaded the father of Along Moy from the Guangzhou area to let her board the Washington, a merchant vessel laden with Chinese goods headed for the U.S. market, in 1834. Along Moy, with her interpreter, appeared in numerous cities in the eastern portion of the United States, from New York to Washington and onward to Richmond and New Orleans, against the backdrop of beautiful Chinese products. While she was obviously used as a marketing tool, the Carnes charged the public to see her. The advertisements emphasized her tiny, bound feet--an attraction that persuaded many Americans to pay the rather high admission fee to see her. As Haddad observes, Afong Moy became a "household name" after just several months in the United States. Newspaper articles publicized her appearances, her demeanor, and, of course, her bound feet. She even met members of Congress and President Jackson himself, as well as Philadelphia doctors.

Through his research into this fascinating event, Haddad tells us about America's perception of the Chinese, the China-United States trade, and the subtle similarities during this period between American middle-class women and Chinese women, both of whose societies demanded that females be relegated to the home. Haddad also speculates on...

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