Asian Women: Immigration and Citizenship in Oregon

By Nagae, Peggy | Oregon Historical Quarterly, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Asian Women: Immigration and Citizenship in Oregon


Nagae, Peggy, Oregon Historical Quarterly


THE HISTORY OF ASIAN WOMEN'S CITIZENSHIP in Oregon intersects with race, gender, class, national origin, immigration statutes, and legal cases. (1) A complex legal and social backdrop dictated Asian women's ability to immigrate to Oregon, marry, raise families, and become citizens. Federal laws and legal decisions, marriage rights and customs, prostitution, labor, and international relations all have played roles in the relationship between first-generation Asian American women and their citizenship. Second-generation, American-born Asian women faced barriers to the privileges of citizenship as well as legal battles and discrimination. Not just internal policies but also global politics and international relations influenced Asian women's opportunities to immigrate and gain U.S. citizenship.

Much of the scholarship about Asian women immigrants details the history in California rather than in Oregon. (2) I write this article to give voice to the experiences and challenges that first-generation Asian immigrant women and second-generation American-born Asian women faced in Oregon and to their strength and courage in claiming rights for themselves and their families in a country that often thought them foreign and inassimilable. Looking at citizenship through the eyes of Asian women is critical to understanding the full history of Asian Americans in the United States and the history of the nation as a whole. Asian women served "as historical agents actively engaged in determining their lives and those of their families, communities, and larger entities, albeit within multiple and complex constraints." (3) Often written about from the perspectives of race and national origin--rather than from the intersection of race, gender, class, and national origin--Asian women's lives remain at the margins of history. Scholars have much to do in understanding the history of Asian women in Oregon, work that can be guided by the history reviewed here.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

NATURALIZATION AND IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS FOR FIRST GENERATION IMMIGRANT WOMEN

The history of first-generation Asian women's immigration to the United States begins with Asian men, sought for their cheap labor or seeking their own fortune. As early as the 1850s, Chinese laborers, mostly from the Guangdong province, settled in the southern and eastern parts of the Oregon territory to mine gold. Chinese men also built the railroads in Oregon. They held manufacturing jobs around Portland, cleared forests, cultivated farmland in Oregon's rural areas, and composed the largest percentage of cannery workers in Astoria. By 1890, the Chinese population in Oregon had grown to 9,540, the second largest community of Chinese in the United States. Males constituted 95 percent of that total. (4)

The first generation of Japanese immigrants, called Issei, arrived in the United States during the mid 1880s, following the 1882 passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the resulting labor void. The mostly male immigrants hailed from Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama, and Wakayama prefectures; many were single and many thought of themselves as sojourners, here to make their fortune and return home. They had left their wives and families behind in search of riches, anticipating a glamorous life in America. (5)

South Asian men began arriving on the West Coast in 1907. Men between the ages of sixteen and thirty-five, with little education and few skills, were brought largely for their labor, so few women immigrated with them; between one-third and one-half worked to support their families in India. (6)

Many factors inhibited women's immigration, including traditional Chinese values, which gave them little standing because of their gender. Some feared their "husbands might have concubines or other wives in the United States," and they would have no legal recourse, since Chinese women could neither divorce nor remarry and were subject to their husband's discipline. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Asian Women: Immigration and Citizenship in Oregon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.