Contours of Race: The Chinese in Astoria, Oregon
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Like most whites living on the Pacific Coast during the late nineteenth century, white residents of Astoria, Oregon supported the notion that the Chinese, as a race, were culturally and economically depraved and certainly worthy of exclusion. Nonetheless, Chinese immigrants had a significant presence in Astoria, and while the anti-Chinese attitudes of local whites appeared straightforward, probing on-the-ground race relations reveals that they were actually quite complex. This thesis shows that white Astorians struggled to reconcile a principled stance against the Chinese with the pragmatism of accepting at least a temporary place for them in the community. The variegated roles that the Chinese played in Astoria and their tangible presence in different spheres of town life were recognized, even if only begrudgingly, by white Astorians. Overall, the contradictions that characterized race language and race relations demonstrate that the contours of race in late-nineteenth-century Astoria were multiple, undefined, and constantly negotiated.