The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City

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Overview

"This is a fantastic book, overflowing with groundbreaking empirical research and rich with historical detail. The author has gathered an enormous range of newspaper and archival material, as well as prints and illustrations, and her detective work is amazing in its depth. She is particularly strong in detailing the historical fascination and obsessions with interracial sexual relationships, using the murder case of Elsie Sigel to narrate white American conceptions of Chinatown and Chinese men as a threat to white women."—Henry Yu, University of California, Los Angeles

"Mary Ting Yi Lui creatively employs a forgotten but important crime as a narrative vehicle to show that New York's Chinatown was not a neighborhood of racial exclusion and ethnic isolation. Rather, the author convincingly argues that Chinatown's borders were not fixed or impenetrable as suggested by past journalist and scholarly studies. She offers a nuanced and accurate interpretation of the Chinese-American experience, challenging one of the most enduring racial stereotypes in American historical literature."—Timothy J. Gilfoyle, Loyola University

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Editorial Reviews

Ethnic and Racial Studies

This is an outstandingly well researched and elegantly executed book, rich in detail, theoretical insight, and contemporary illustration drawn from the archives, and at times great fun. . . . [I]t sets a new high standard for writing about the Asian American experience.
— Gregor Benton
American Historical Review - Krystyn Moon
Lui has created a solid historical narrative through her combined use of empirical data and Chinese-language sources. . . . [Her] work deserves to be recognized as an important contribution to American history.
Ethnic & Racial Studies - Gregor Benton
This is an outstandingly well researched and elegantly executed book, rich in detail, theoretical insight, and contemporary illustration drawn from the archives, and at times great fun. . . . [I]t sets a new high standard for writing about the Asian American experience.
Journal of American History - Renqiu Yu
[A] magnificent social history. . . . [T]he book's graceful style, along with its vivid, engaging narratives and insightful analyses, is certain to be appreciated and enjoyed beyond the scholarly community.
Journal of Asian American Studies - Shilpa Dave
Mary Ting Yi Lui's book, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery, is the perfect blend of a thrilling mystery bestseller and a detailed cultural history.
The Historian - Karen J. Leong
Lui, in this provocative and compelling study, demonstrates how America's racial and gender formations were mapped onto the dynamic and urban landscape of New York's Chinatown. This book is highly recommended.
Journal of Asian American Studies - Shilpa Davé
Mary Ting Yi Lui's book, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery, is the perfect blend of a thrilling mystery bestseller and a detailed cultural history.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2005 History Award, The Association for Asian American Studies

"Lui has created a solid historical narrative through her combined use of empirical data and Chinese-language sources. . . . [Her] work deserves to be recognized as an important contribution to American history."—Krystyn Moon, American Historical Review

"This is an outstandingly well researched and elegantly executed book, rich in detail, theoretical insight, and contemporary illustration drawn from the archives, and at times great fun. . . . [I]t sets a new high standard for writing about the Asian American experience."—Gregor Benton, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"[A] magnificent social history. . . . [T]he book's graceful style, along with its vivid, engaging narratives and insightful analyses, is certain to be appreciated and enjoyed beyond the scholarly community."—Renqiu Yu, Journal of American History

"Mary Ting Yi Lui's book, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery, is the perfect blend of a thrilling mystery bestseller and a detailed cultural history."—Shilpa Dav, Journal of Asian American Studies

"Lui, in this provocative and compelling study, demonstrates how America's racial and gender formations were mapped onto the dynamic and urban landscape of New York's Chinatown. This book is highly recommended."—Karen J. Leong, The Historian

American Historical Review
Lui has created a solid historical narrative through her combined use of empirical data and Chinese-language sources. . . . [Her] work deserves to be recognized as an important contribution to American history.
— Krystyn Moon
Ethnic & Racial Studies
This is an outstandingly well researched and elegantly executed book, rich in detail, theoretical insight, and contemporary illustration drawn from the archives, and at times great fun. . . . [I]t sets a new high standard for writing about the Asian American experience.
— Gregor Benton
Journal of American History
[A] magnificent social history. . . . [T]he book's graceful style, along with its vivid, engaging narratives and insightful analyses, is certain to be appreciated and enjoyed beyond the scholarly community.
— Renqiu Yu
Journal of Asian American Studies
Mary Ting Yi Lui's book, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery, is the perfect blend of a thrilling mystery bestseller and a detailed cultural history.
— Shilpa Davé
The Historian
Lui, in this provocative and compelling study, demonstrates how America's racial and gender formations were mapped onto the dynamic and urban landscape of New York's Chinatown. This book is highly recommended.
— Karen J. Leong
Journal of Asian American Studies
Mary Ting Yi Lui's book, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery, is the perfect blend of a thrilling mystery bestseller and a detailed cultural history.
— Shilpa Dave
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691130484
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 2/12/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 773,538
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Ting Yi Lui is Assistant Professor of American Studies and History at Yale University. She is a former curator of the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : "find Miss Sigel dead in trunk" 1
Ch. 1 "Terra Incognita" : mapping Chinatown's racial and gender boundaries in lower Manhattan 17
Ch. 2 Beyond Chinatown : policing Chinese American male mobility in New York City 52
Ch. 3 Policing urban girls' and women's mobility and desires 81
Ch. 4 Playing the "missionary game" 111
Ch. 5 Chinese American interracial couples and families in New York City 143
Ch. 6 "The most remarkable get-away in police history" 175
Ch. 7 "Disgrace on the whole body of our people" 198
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2008

    Chinatown Trunk Mystery

    Mary Ting Yi Lui's The Chinatown Trunk Mystery is a fasinating story of murder, sex, and the raisct fears of whites towards the Chinese. In 1909 nineteen-year-old Elise Sigel's body is discovered in the trunk in her lovers apartment. With Sigel's death the press start a relentless campaign against the Chinese in New York City.

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