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The Transnational Lives of Chinese Railroad Workers: Material Culture Research from a Guangdong Province Qiaoxiang and Railroad Worker Camp Sites in North America

book cover
Jinhua Tan, Ryan Kennedy
China Social Sciences Publishing House
2019

铁路华工的跨国生活: 广东侨乡和北美铁路华工营的物质文化研究 

Although archaeologists have studied Chinese railroad workers' sites for more than 50 years, the comparative information from railroad workers in the Chinese townships is still very scarce. Therefore, scholars from the Guangdong Qiaoxiang Cultural Research Center of Wuyi University in Jiangmen City, Guangdong Province have carried out a series of multidisciplinary studies on the life of overseas Chinese, including history, archival, oral history, architectural history, folklore studies and art history.  However, before this book, there was no archaeological investigation about the hometown of overseas Chinese.  Due to the lack of archaeological research on the hometown of railroad workers, American archaeologists have encountered difficulties in analyzing the remains of railroad labor sites.  For example, although researchers want to understand how Chinese railroad workers adapt to the new living environment in North America, it is very difficult to explore cultural changes because they cannot know the living conditions, dietary traditions and other living traditions of workers when they are in their hometown.  This book is a collaborative research report that can solve the above problems.  Through a cooperative survey of anthropological research methods of Chinese and foreign scholars, a series of cultural relics reflecting the daily life style of Cangdong Village from the late 19th century to the early 20th century were collected to understand the transnational experiences and life of Chinese railroad workers such as the life of the hometown, the migration process, the working and living conditions in North America, their liaison with Chinese relatives, and the impact on the economic and cultural outlook of their hometown.

For a detailed description of the book, see pdf.

For more information about Candong Villege Project, see https://cangdong.stanford.edu/.