The Chinese diaspora’s homeland: The archaeology of an emigrant village in southern China

Thursday, February 13, 2020
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Stanford Archaeology Center

The global dispersion of Chinese migrants from rural villages in southern China between the late nineteenth- and early twentieth century is often described as a labor diaspora. While these migrants labored abroad, they also maintained connections to their villages by sending remittances, writing letters, returning for visits, and building new homes. Archaeological investigations of migrants’ home villages provide a lens for understanding the material consequences of the maintenance of these transnational ties. In this talk, I will discuss my research on an emigrant village called Wo

Hing in the Gom Benn village cluster, which was partly established by Chinese migrants in the Riverside and San Bernardino Chinatowns in southern California. The Chinatowns are no longer extant but have been excavated in cultural resource management contexts; Wo Hing village and the majority of its original buildings still stand but have never been studied. I will provide brief highlights of the results of my surface collection in Wo Hing followed by a more in-depth discussion of the building and fresco survey I conducted in the village. My preliminary results indicate that migrants selectively incorporated foreign objects and architectural ornamentation into their everyday lives.

Laura W. Ng is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. Her dissertation examines the materiality of transnationalism by focusing on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chinese migration to the United States. Through an archaeological lens, she traces the transpacific linkages between three diasporically connected communities: two Chinatowns in southern California and a village in Taishan, Guangdong, China. Her research is funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Wuyi University Qiaoxiang Cultural Research Center, and various centers and programs at Stanford University. Laura earned a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego and MA in Historical Archaeology from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

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