Chinese American Death Rituals: Respecting the Ancestors

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Death is a topic that has fascinated people for centuries. However, the rituals associated with the death and remembrance of a loved one can be very different from culture to culture. Chinese American Death Rituals examines Chinese American funerary rituals and cemeteries from the late nineteenth century to the present in order to understand the importance of Chinese funerary rites and their transformation through time. The authors in this multidisciplinary volume discuss the meaning of funerary rituals and their normative dimension as well as social practices that have been influenced by tradition. Chinese Americans have had to resolve the tension between assimilation into the American mainstream culture and their strong Chinese heritage. They have looked to individual beliefs, customs, religion, and environment for this resolution. This volume expertly describes and analyzes cultural retention and transformation in the after-death rituals of Chinese American communities.
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Editorial Reviews

In this book, eleven historians and anthropologists combine to give the broadest and most nuanced coverage to date of Chinese American death rituals. Recommended.
Journal Of Chinese Overseas
This volume contains a number of invaluable reports of archaeological findings on Chinese death-ritual practices in America in the 19th and 20th centuries. It looks at the migration history of the overseas Chinese from a special angle, and sheds new light on our understanding of the living culture—through studying the dead—of the early Chinese sojourners in the West.
The Asian Reporter
"A brand-new look at [Chinese American] history. At times it sneaks up on the reader and positively enthralls."
In this book, eleven historians and anthropologists combine to give the broadest and most nuanced coverage to date of Chinese American death rituals. Recommended.
The Journal Of Heritage Stewardship, Winter 2009 - Jeffrey L. Durbin
Chinese American Death Rituals: Respecting the Ancestors is a valuable addition to the increasingly important subject of death ways. This highly readable work should be of tremendous interest to archeologists, ethnographers, folklorists, landscape historians, cultural geographers, and architectural historians.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759107342
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Sue Fawn Chung is an associate professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is an advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a member of the NTHP's Diversity Council, and an advisor to Preserve Nevada, the statewide preservation organization. She serves on the Board of Museums and History for the state of Nevada. Her fields of specialization are late Qing history and Chinese American history. She has published numerous studies on Chinese Americans. Priscilla Wegars is the founder and volunteer curator of the University of Idaho's Asian American Comparative Collection, a repository of artifacts and documentary materials essential for the study of Asian American archaeological sites, economic contributions, and cultural history. She edited Hidden Heritage: Historical Archaeology of the Overseas Chinese (1993) and wrote Polly Bemis: A Chinese American Pioneer (2003) and "Polly Bemis: Lurid Life or Literary Legend?" in Wild Women of the Old West, edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain (2003).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 "What we didn't understand" : a history of Chinese death ritual in China and California 19
2 On dying American : Cantonese rites for death and ghost-spirits in an American city 47
3 Archaeological excavations at Virginiatown's Chinese cemeteries 81
4 Venerate these bones : Chinese American funerary and burial practices as seen in Carlin, Elko County, Nevada 107
5 Respecting the dead : Chinese cemeteries and burial practices in the interior Pacific Northwest 147
6 Remembering ancestors in Hawai'i 175
7 The Chinese mortuary tradition in San Francisco Chinatown 195
8 Old rituals in new lands : bringing the ancestors to America 241
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