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In Search of the Lost History of Chinese Migrants and the Transcontinental Railroads

About the Author

Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Shelley Fisher Fishkin's broad, interdisciplinary research interests have led her to focus on topics including the ways in which American writers' apprenticeships in journalism shaped their poetry and fiction; the influence of African American voices on canonical American literature; the need to desegregate American literary studies; American theatre history; the development of feminist criticism; the relationship between public history and literary history; literature and animal welfare; the role  literature can play in the fight against racism; the place of humor and satire in movements for social justice; digital humanities; and the challenge of doing transnational American Studies....

Rock Hushka
Shawn Wong
University of Washington Press
2017

In this pointed and resonant project, internationally acclaimed artist Zhi Lin refocuses on the forgotten Chinese laborers in America from an iconic moment in US history. In the nineteenth century, thousands of men migrated from China to seek fortunes in the gold mines of California; instead they found work building the transcontinental railroads. The contributions of these workers are largely overlooked in the history books, their names and stories lost. Zhi Lin's works address this absence and are inspired by his own experiences as an immigrant.

Zhi Lin began exploring the history of Chinese laborers in 2005 by following the route of the first transcontinental railroad and making watercolor sketches of the landscapes and landmarks along the way. His work later focused on the Golden Spike Ceremony, an annual reenactment of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. This book will include approximately thirty illustrated works, an interview with the artist, and two scholarly essays.

SHAWN WONG is professor of English and comparative literature, cinema, and media at the University of Washington. SHELLEY FISHER FISHKIN is co-director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University. ROCK HUSHKA is chief curator and curator of contemporary and Northwest art at Tacoma Art Museum.