The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978 Page: 36
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Communist takeover in 1949 and the subsequent American economic
blockade ofLChina snapped all of the ties that up until then had bound
the Chinese-Americans with their native land. They ceased thereafter
to visit their relatives in China or to remit money. After decades of
close trans-Pacific relations, the Chinese in America were cast adrift
from their mother country. This too, of course, helped to reorient them
toward greater integration into American life and to weaken their sense
Thus, the Chinese entered their second century in Texas, and in
America, in vastly changed circumstances from the first. As for the first
century, it should be clear by now that it was by no means so homoge-
neous as it is often portrayed. In a recent bibliographical essay, Roger
Daniels bemoaned the fact that "Most of the scholarship about Chinese
in America, and in fact about Asian Americans generally, has focused
on the opposition which they aroused, on the excluders rather than the
excluded." But it is no less lamentable that the few scholars who' have
ventured to focus on the excluded have dwelt excessively with the Chi-
natown experience, as if that were the sum total of Chinese life during
the first century. The Chinese in America were not initially an urban
population. Many at first lived in the countryside and worked in agri-
culture, as they did in Robertson County around 188o or in California
at about the same time, when three-quarters of the farm work force
It was only after the onset of the anti-Chinese movement and the ex-
clusion policy, when the Chinese on the west coast were driven from
the fields and the mines, that they all crowded into the cities. Only then
-did Chinatown come to be the exclusive focus of Chinese American
life, as was the case with El Paso and, to a lesser extent, San Antonio.
Just as the first phase of the story of the Chinese in America cannot be
written in terms of Chinatown, however, neither can the most recent
phase. Chinatown disintegrated, though it did not completely disap-
pear, with the end of exclusion. As in Houston, the new immigration
of the last quarter century has fundamentally transformed the Chinese
community in the United States. It is time, then, for us to look beyond
Chinatown, lest we go on perpetuating a distorted image of the Chi-
nese experience in America.
62Roger Daniels, "American Historians and East Asian Immigrants," Pacific Historical
Review, XLIII (November, 1974), 458; Lai and Choi, Outlines History of the Chinese in
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978, periodical, 1977/1978; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101205/m1/54/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.