The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky

`

The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky

A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana

Mark T. Johnson

284 pages
13 photographs, 12 illlustrations, 2 maps, 1 chart, appendix, index

Hardcover

May 2022

978-1-4962-3099-7

$55.00 Pre-order

About the Book

From the earliest days of non-Native settlement of Montana, when Chinese immigrants made up more than 10 percent of the territory’s population, Chinese pioneers played a key role in the region’s development. But this population, so crucial to Montana’s history, remains underrepresented in historical accounts, and popular attention to the Chinese in Montana tends to focus on sensational elements—exoticizing Chinese Montanans and distancing their lived experiences from our modern understanding. The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky seeks to recover the stories of Montana’s Chinese population in their own words and deepen understanding of Chinese experiences in Montana by using a global lens.
           
Mark T. Johnson has mined several large collections of primary documents left by Chinese pioneers, translated into English here for the first time. These collections, spanning the 1880s through the 1950s, provide insight into the pressures the Chinese community faced—from family members back in China and from non-Chinese Montanans—as economic and cultural disturbances complicated acceptance of Chinese residents in the state. Through their own voices Johnson reveals the agency of Chinese Montanans in the history of the American West and China.
 

Author Bio

Mark T. Johnson is an assistant professor in the Institute of Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame. Visit BigSkyChinese.com for information supplementing the book.

 

Praise

“Johnson’s transnational approach to his subject sets his work apart from most other studies done on the Chinese experience in Montana. The author makes excellent use of primary sources, including materials that help to capture the Chinese voices in the story and have rarely, if ever, been utilized by other historians.”—Robert R. Swartout Jr., professor emeritus of history at Carroll College and coeditor of Montana Legacy: Essays on History, People, and Place
 

The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky fills a gap in the history of Montana as well as of Chinese immigration. . . . Joining a group of new scholars, Johnson takes a transnational approach in dealing with the topic and provides a good example of this new kind of scholarship.”—Liping Zhu, author of The Road to Chinese Exclusion: The Denver Riot, 1880 Election, and Rise of the West

“Mark Johnson draws insights from a cache of untranslated documents . . . to understand the challenges of Chinese experiences in Montana and the American West. Highlighting voices of Montana’s Chinese residents via their own words, Johnson artfully connects personal accounts with regional and global history. The result is an important book about risk, agency, resilience, resistance, cooperation, and hope.”—Kelly J. Dixon, professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Montana
 
 

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Note on Chinese Names and Transliterations
1. Telling the History of Montana’s Chinese Pioneers
2. Pressures on Butte’s Chinese Residents, 1880s–1920s
3. Chinese Resistance to the 1892 Geary Act
4. The Chinese Empire Reform Association
5. The Anti-American Boycott of 1905
6. Chinese Religious and Burial Practices
7. The Changing Status of Chinese Women, 1860s–1950s
8. Cold War Fears and Chinese Communities, 1930s–1950s
Conclusion
Appendix: Anti-Chinese Actions in Montana, 1866–1909
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Also of Interest