We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Contemporary Chinese America: Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community Transformation

Min Zhou

Publication Year: 2009

Contemporary Chinese America is the most comprehensive sociological investigation of the experiences of Chinese immigrants to the United States—and of their offspring—in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The author, Min Zhou, is a well-known sociologist of the Chinese American experience. In this volume she collects her original research on a range of subjects, including the causes and consequences of emigration from China, demographic trends of Chinese Americans, patterns of residential mobility in the U.S., Chinese American “ethnoburbs,” immigrant entrepreneurship, ethnic enclave economies, gender and work, Chinese language media, Chinese schools, and intergenerational relations. The concluding chapter, “Rethinking Assimilation,” ponders the future for Chinese Americans. Also included are an extensive bibliography and a list of recommended documentary films.


While the book is particularly well-suited for college courses in Chinese American studies, ethnic studies, Asian studies, and immigration studies, it will interest anyone who wants to more fully understand the lived experience of contemporary Chinese Americans.

Published by: Temple University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (36.4 KB)
pp. vii-viii

List of Figures and Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF (33.5 KB)
pp. ix-x

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (43.7 KB)
pp. xi-xiii

It is commonly noted in the contemporary immigration literature in the United States that Asians are the fastest-growing segment of the foreign-born population. It is usually added that Asian immigrants, by virtue of their high levels of education and professional/entrepreneurial skills, do very well in the American labor market and usually reach middle- and even upper-class status in the course of one or two generations. Less emphasized are the great diversity of the Asian population and the fact that the positive ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (30.4 KB)
pp. xv-xvi

My work on contemporary Chinese America started in graduate school in the mid-1980s. Reflecting on my career as a scholar, researcher, and teacher, I realize that I am so deeply indebted to so many individuals and institutions that it is impossible to acknowledge every single name. First and foremost, I thank my graduate mentor, John R. Logan, for his trust, guidance, encouragement, and friendship. John also helped pull me out of a state of loss and hopelessness when I was stranded in Europe in ...

read more

Introduction: A Personal Reflection on the Study of Chinatown and Beyond

pdf iconDownload PDF (121.3 KB)
pp. 1-20

This book draws on and develops my previously published work on the multifaceted Chinese America of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. My research on Chinese immigration and the Chinese American community began in the mid-1980s, when I was a graduate student at the University at Albany (formerly the State...

PART I: Historical and Global Contexts

read more

1. The Chinese Diaspora and International Migration

pdf iconDownload PDF (142.6 KB)
pp. 23-40

Chinese America is a part of the Greater Chinese Diaspora. International migration among Chinese people is centuries old: long before European colonists set foot on the Asian continent, the Chinese moved across sea and land, seasonally or permanently, to other parts of Asia and the rest of the world to earn a living and support their families. In this chapter I offer a historical overview of Chinese emigration as a basis for understanding contemporary Chinese immigration to the United States....

PART II: Immigration, Demographic Trends, and Community Dynamics

read more

2. Demographic Trends and Characteristics of Contemporary Chinese America

pdf iconDownload PDF (107.8 KB)
pp. 43-54

The United States has the largest ethnic Chinese population outside Asia. Chinese Americans are also the oldest and largest Asian-origin group in the United States. Their long history of migration and settlement dates back to the late 1840s and includes more than 60 years of legal exclusion. With the lifting of legal barriers to Chinese immigration after World War II and the enactment of liberal immigration legislation beginning with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of ...

read more

3. In and Out of Chinatown: Residential Segregation and Mobility among Chinese Immigrants in New York City

pdf iconDownload PDF (188.4 KB)
pp. 55-76

New York City has the second-largest concentration of Chinese Americans in urban America. Its Chinatown has always been a distinctly contiguous geographic locality in which Chinese immigrants cluster. While other ethnic communities, such as Little Italy across the street, have dwindled, Chinatown has survived for more than a century and a half and has grown into a full-fledged immigrant community based on a solid organizational structure and a thriving enclave economy. Yet even ...

read more

4. Suburbanization and New Trends in Community Development: The Case of Chinese Ethnoburbs in the San Gabriel Valley, California

pdf iconDownload PDF (147.3 KB)
pp. 77-96

Classic assimilation theories have long stressed the transitory nature of ethnically distinct urban enclaves as springboards for immigrants’ eventual integration into the mainstream. New York’s Little Italy and Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo are well-known examples of spatial assimilation, places where immigrants toiled to enable their children to “melt” into suburbia and become “indistinguishably” American. In the past three decades, however, this classic urban-to-suburban residential mobility model has been ...

PART III: The Organizational Structure of the Ethnic Enclave

read more

5. Immigrant Entrepreneurship and the Enclave Economy: The Case of New York City’s Chinatown

pdf iconDownload PDF (141.6 KB)
pp. 99-122

Ethnic entrepreneurship as a social phenomenon has long fascinated social scientists and stimulated considerable research and debate. Ethnic entrepreneurs are overrepresented among first-generation immigrants. These entrepreneurs are often referred to simultaneously as owners and managers (or operators) of their own businesses. ...

read more

6. Chinese-Language Media in the United States

pdf iconDownload PDF (168.3 KB)
pp. 123-147

Chinese-language newspapers, television, and radio are influential ethnic institutions, pillars of Chinese diasporic communities around the world.1 Recently, the Internet has joined these traditional media. In the United States, the upsurge of Chinese-language media in the past few decades mirrors the linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic...

read more

7. Chinese Schools and the Ethnic System of Supplementary Education

pdf iconDownload PDF (115.4 KB)
pp. 148-166

Chinese schools have long been an integral part of the organizational structure of Chinatowns in the United States as well as in the Chinese Diaspora worldwide. In this chapter I examine how a particular type of ethnic organization generates resources conducive to educational success. By looking specifically into Chinese schools in Los Angeles’ Chinese immigrant community, I also unfold an ethnic system of supplementary education that not only offers tangible academic support but also reinforces cultural ...

PART IV: The Family and the New Second Generation

read more

8. The Other Half of the Sky: Immigrant Women in Chinatown’s Enclave Economy

pdf iconDownload PDF (116.1 KB)
pp. 169-186

"Women hold up half of the sky.” This saying accurately describes the role of women in the enclave economy in New York City’s Chinatown. Most often than not, when people think of Chinese laborers in the United States, they imagine railroad workers, miners, hand laundrymen, or restaurant waiters and cooks. Women were seldom seen in the old Chinatowns, and past studies of Chinese immigration and adaptation to life in the United States often overlooked women, even as they began to ...

read more

9. Negotiating Culture and Ethnicity: Intergenerational Relations in Chinese Immigrant Families

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.8 KB)
pp. 187-201

Intergenerational relations in Chinese immigrant families are characterized by conflict, coping, and reconciliation. In the United States, most children of Chinese immigrants live in two-parent nuclear families, with a smaller number in extended or transnational families. In these various immigrant households, a modified version of Confucian values emphasizing filial piety, education, hard work, and discipline serves as a normative behavioral standard for socializing the younger generation. Many immigrant...

read more

10. “Parachute Kids” in Southern California: The Educational Experience of Chinese Children in Transnational Families

pdf iconDownload PDF (105.8 KB)
pp. 202-218

Craig, 18, has been a parachute kid since he was 14; his sister, Zeo, 14, joined him from Taiwan a year ago. They live in a sprawling ranch house in San Marino with an elderly servant who speaks no English. They seem to have adjusted well in school: Craig is a straight-A student, and Zeo also gets As in school and is a student-government ...

PART V: The Future of Chinese America

read more

11. Rethinking Assimilation: The Paradox of “Model Minority” and “Perpetual Foreigner”

pdf iconDownload PDF (100.7 KB)
pp. 221-235

Mr. Leung, 73, worked as a cook in various restaurants in New York’s Chinatown for thirty-some years after arriving penniless from Hong Kong in the early 1960s. Now retired, Mr. Leung is reaping the benefits of his lifelong hard work and sacrifices—all five of his children have degrees from Ivy League colleges, hold professional jobs, own ...

Appendix: Recommended Films on the Chinese American Experience

pdf iconDownload PDF (39.6 KB)
pp. 237-238


pdf iconDownload PDF (222.4 KB)
pp. 239-271


pdf iconDownload PDF (198.3 KB)
pp. 273-297


pdf iconDownload PDF (100.0 KB)
pp. 299-310

E-ISBN-13: 9781592138593

Publication Year: 2009