The Origin of Boston’s Chinatown: Culture, Commerce, and Community

Lisong Liu, MassArt

With one of the oldest and largest Chinatowns in the United States, Boston has had a long and complicated history of Chinese cultural influence and Chinese immigrant settlement, and the city’s ties with China and Chinese migrants have profoundly shaped its own wealth and identity as well as the relations between the two nations. This paper traces the origin of Boston’s Chinatown in the broad historical context and focuses on the three important aspects of this history: culture, commerce and community. It uses local archives, newspaper reports, community records, and personal stories to illustrate the various experience of merchants, diplomats, cultural elites, missionaries, and laborers and their impacts on US-China relations and on the well-being of the immigrant community, offering historical insights on the current tenuous relationship between the two countries and the deep root but still precarious status of the Chinese in Boston and in the nation.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 2. Asian Americans