An Archaeology of Asian Transnationalism

Douglas E. Ross

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"Pushes the historical archaeology of Asian diasporas in new and exciting methodological and theoretical directions."--Stacey Lynn Camp, author of The Archaeology of Citizenship

"Building an innovative methodology that emphasizes diasporic, rather than ethnic, identity, this book provides a model for the archaeology of material culture in pluralistic societies. An essential reference for the archaeology of labor and immigration."--Barbara Voss, coeditor of The Archaeology of Colonialism

"A dynamic narrative blending historical and material data to interpret the complex topics and social relations of diasporic identity formation, transnationalism, and alienation. Well thought out and an important contribution to social archaeology and issues of social justice."--Stephen A. Brighton, University of Maryland

In the early twentieth century, an industrial salmon cannery thrived along the Fraser River in British Columbia. Chinese factory workers lived in an adjoining bunkhouse, and Japanese fishermen lived with their families in a nearby camp. Today the complex is mostly gone and the site overgrown with vegetation, but artifacts from these immigrant communities remain, waiting below the surface.

In this groundbreaking comparative archaeological study of Asian immigrants in North America, Douglas Ross excavates the Ewen Cannery to explore how its immigrant workers formed new cultural identities in the face of dramatic displacement. Ross demonstrates how some homeland practices persisted while others changed in response to new contextual factors, reflecting the complexity of migrant experiences. Instead of treating ethnicity as a bounded, stable category, Ross shows that ethnic identity is shaped and transformed as cultural traditions from home and host societies come together in the context of local choices, structural constraints, and consumer society.

Douglas E. Ross is a post-doctoral fellow in archaeology at Simon Fraser University.

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“An excellent in-depth study…Ross has presented many thought-provoking ideas in this work”
--Journal of Anthropological Research

The first detailed comparative work examining archaeological assemblages from contemporaneous Japanese and Chinese sites. . . . An excellent introduction for archaeologists who are interested in transnationalism and diaspora.
--Canadian Journal of Archaeology

By subjecting archaeological finds to historical (written and oral) documentation and to the analytical writing on diaspora and transnationalism, [Ross] develops a useful model for understanding historical Asian archaeology in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British Colombia.
--British Colombian Quarterly

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