HKD320.00 / USD45.00
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23 b/w illus.
Hardback   472 Pages
Publication Date 2012/12
ISBN 9789888139712
229x152 mm   1.002 kg
Market Rights: Worldwide
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Pacific Crossing: California Gold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong

Elizabeth Sinn

Description and Author

Digital edition also available: Google | Kindle

Elizabeth Sinn talked about the book at ChinaFile

Interview with Elizabeth Sinn in "Hong Kong Heritage" at RTHK.HK

During the nineteenth century tens of thousands of Chinese men and women crossed the Pacific to work, trade, and settle in California. Drawn initially by the gold rush, they took with them skills and goods and a view of the world which, though still Chinese, was transformed by their long journeys back and forth. They in turn transformed Hong Kong, their main point of embarkation, from a struggling infant colony into a prosperous international port and the cultural center of a far-ranging Chinese diaspora.

Making use of extensive research in archives around the world, Pacific Crossing charts the rise of Chinese Gold Mountain firms engaged in all kinds of transpacific trade, especially the lucrative export of prepared opium and other luxury goods. Challenging the traditional view that the migration was primarily a "coolie trade," Elizabeth Sinn uncovers leadership and agency among the many Chinese who made the crossing. In presenting Hong Kong as an "in-between place" of repeated journeys and continuous movement, Sinn also offers a fresh view of the British colony and a new paradigm for migration studies.

Elizabeth Sinn is the author of Power and Charity: A Chinese Merchant Elite in Colonial Hong Kong.

"During the second half of the nineteenth century, Hong Kong provided a transpacific outreach for enterprising Cantonese to leapfrog the region, the first Great Leap in the Chinese people's passage to the new world. Elizabeth Sinn’s scholarly study tells the story of how the colony became the pivot in modern Chinese migrations. Her book traces the myriad ways that made Hong Kong not only a major trading center but also the indispensable second home for diasporic Chinese. This is an excellent work of history that tells a compelling story." — Wang Gungwu, Chairman, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore

"The definitive statement about Hong Kong’s roots as the catalyst for the rise of a transpacific world. Sinn forces us to rethink how migration connected China and North America, examining the movement of not only people but goods in shaping how 'Gold Mountain' fueled the rise of Hong Kong, and how migrating Chinese and the companies they created built a corridor across the Pacific." — Henry Yu, author of Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America

"Elizabeth Sinn's intricately researched study wastes no time getting to the main point. Hong Kong had room for all its people to make a living. As a British colony it 'provided enough flexibility and openness for people of different backgrounds to exert their entrepreneurial vitality and not be ashamed of growing rich.' When news of the California gold rush 'an ocean away' reached Hong Kong, it was 'a call for action.' For the discerning reader, Dr Sinn's book is, likewise, a call for action: Read it!" — Philip A. Kuhn, author of Chinese Among Others: Emigration in Modern Times

"This is a tour de force: a closely focused history, rich in detail, well balanced, generously footnoted, yet eminently readable. Of particular value to those interested in Hong Kong, in migration or in Chinese cultural studies, the book is readily accessible to the non-specialist too." — The China Quarterly

"Sinn is skilful with telling details... Through vivid stories embedded in complicated and evolving global interconnections, Sinn has produced a generous and abundantly researched account of Hong Kong that will be necessary reading not only for students of that city, but also urban, world, imperial, Asian American, migration, and business historians as well." — China Information, Volume 27, No.3 (2013)

"Sinn's willingness to question conventional assumptions, and to combine her decades of research on Hong Kong history with some of the more recent approaches to Chinese emigration, makes this such a successful book." — American Historical Review, December 2013

"Pacific Crossing provides a valuable historical service in continuing the trend of relocating the relevance of Chinese and Chinese-Americans in American history beyond mining communities, railroad routes, and Chinatowns, while also reexamining the role of Chinese people in the related economic and legal systems of Hong Kong." — H-Empire (February, 2014)

"With this book, Sinn provides interesting new insights into a number of different historiographies, including literature on modern China, Hong Kong history, maritime and Pacific studies, Chinese diasporas, US-China relations, Asian-Americans, business history, women's as well as migration studies." — International Journal of Maritime History, Vol.XXV, No.2 (December 2013)