In the late 1870s, thousands of Chinese men left coastal British Columbia and the western United States and headed east. For these men, the Prairies were a land of opportunity; there, they could open shops and potentially earn enough money to become merchants. Cultivating Connections looks at the organizations, relationships, and ties on which these men and their wives depended for sustenance. The result of almost a decade's research and more than three hundred interviews, Cultivating Connections tells the stories of some of Prairie Canada's Chinese settlers – men and women from various generations who navigated cultural difference. These stories reveal the critical importance of networks within these communities, showing how the less connected were more likely to experience racism, and identifying how a sense of belonging varied according to affiliations and practices, including merchant, labouring, nationalist, Confucian, Christian, Buddhist, or Daoist. An important addition to a literature that has tended to examine large coastal Chinese settlements, this book serves as a remarkable record of the voices of some of the Prairies’ most resilient and resourceful pioneers.
This book will interest Canadian historians, particularly those studying the Canadian Prairies or Chinese Canadian migration and settlement.
Cultivating Connections provides a nuanced analysis of the gendered and racial experiences of Chinese Prairie Canadians and is an excellent contribution to the literature on the history of immigration and migration, social geography, and women’s history.
Cultivating Connections is a major breakthrough in the research of social history. Combining years of careful documentary research, including a thorough canvass of available English and Chinese sources, with an oral history component arising from years of involvement in Prairie Chinese communities, Marshall has gained access to valuable networks of relationships. I recommend her book highly.
In Cultivating Connections, Marshall has created a remarkably intimate and moving portrayal of the lives of Chinese Canadian settlers and, through that intimacy, draws out the nuances of relationships that helped them negotiate often hostile circumstances. Written in a very approachable style and full of personal stories, her book will interest a broad readership.
1 Affective Regimes, Nationalism, and the KMT
2 Reverend Ma Seung
3 Bachelor Uncles: Frank Chan and Sam Dong
4 Affect through Sports: Mark Ki and Happy Young
5 Married Nationalists: Charles Yee and Charlie Foo
6 Women beyond the Frame
7 Early Chinese Prairie Wives
8 Quongying’s Coins and Sword
9 Chinese Prairie Daughters
Appendix; Notes; Glossary; Bibliography; Index
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