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Fall Lecture Series

Exclusion, Rhode Island, Kinship: Making Your Own Chinese Family

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Exclusion, Rhode Island, Kinship: Making Your Own Chinese Family at Rosecliff has closed.

The Chinese Exclusion Act, passed by Congress in 1882, was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. Rhode Island Chinese history scholar John Eng-Wong will discuss how laws and social practices impacted Chinese family formation and reunification during this period and beyond. Drawing from adoption archives, Chinese Exclusion era documents, memoirs, articles and interviews with descendants, he will describe how exclusion unfolded in Rhode Island and illustrate how several Chinese-descent families from Providence and Newport negotiated these impacts. Almost everyone begins in a family. These chronicles explore the complications when the road forward from birth is disrupted, or not.


Chin Too family with unidentified Chinese consular official, unknown location in Rhode Island (private collection)

Headshot_John Eng-Wong copy

John Eng-Wong

John Eng-Wong was a core member of the Brown University team led by students Angela Feng and Julieanne Fontana who mounted a storefront exhibit remembering the history of the Chinese-heritage community in Providence, R.I. Eng-Wong's interest in this topic decades ago sparked his research into the story of the Chow Mein Sandwich, which in turn blossomed into study of Chinese food's migration around the world including its manifestation in Rhode Island. Retired from a long administrative career at Brown, John remains on the university roster as a Visiting Scholar in American Studies.

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