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Pacific Immigrants

Los Angeles Chinatown, Apablaza Street, ca 1900
Archaeologists like Roberta Greenwood have pioneered the study of immigrants arriving in North America across the Pacific rather than the Atlantic Ocean. Chinese sojourners helped east meet west as they laid mile after mile of railroad track, and built the cities of the West. Greenwood recognized that the physical remains of past Chinese and other ethnic communities often survive just below city pavements.

Greenwood has spent much of her career connecting these archaeological remains with the people who left them behind, then linking the specific stories of these places to larger historical concerns. Her work and that of the urban archaeologists she has trained and inspired revealed a continent-wide trend in the siting of immigrant communities on land of low value or high hazard, often nearest the place of first arrival. The sequence of ethnic groups moving into and out of these communities does not tell a happy story, chronicling as it does the history of the most economically and politically “scapegoated” groups. We cannot always celebrate the history that archaeology offers us, but neither can we ignore it.

Projects in the Book

(Click on bold link to view an excerpt)
Roberta Greenwood – The Chinese in the Cities of the West

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