Pacific Crossings: How San Francisco made Hong Kong into an international city
An exciting dialogue on Chinese overseas migration, Hong Kong, and the global city between two pioneering historians from both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
March 2016, San Francisco—Chinese Culture Center is pleased to announce it will be the only U.S. speaking engagement for renowned historian Elizabeth Sinn. Speaking about her recent book, Pacific Crossing: California Gold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong (HKU Press 2014), Professor Sinn will discuss cross-Pacific migration and Hong Kong’s transformational role in the Chinese diaspora.
In her book, Professor Sinn charts the rise of San Francisco-based Chinese 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,” Professor 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, she also offers a fresh view of the British colony and a new paradigm for migration studies. Making use of extensive research in archives around the world, including the Him Mark Lai Research Files at the University of California Berkeley, Professor Sinn is at the forefront of a new generation of historians who are reexamining the historical narrative about the Pacific Ocean.
This lecture is an exciting and rare opportunity for scholars and non-specialists alike. Professor Sinn will present an illuminating new narrative about the rise of Hong Kong alongside San Francisco, in the wake of the California Gold Rush of 1849. As the main point of debarkation to “Gold Mountain” a.k.a San Francisco for tens of thousands of Chinese men, and not a few women, Hong Kong rose from a modest fishing village to a leading Pacific port, a hub of passenger and cargo shipping, import and export, and the nexus of the Chinese diaspora. This lecture will be a fascinating discovery for those interested in the making of Hong Kong, US-China relations, Chinese American history, and their impact on San Francisco today. Professor Emeritus of Asian American studies, UC Berkeley, Ling-chi Wang will moderate the Q&A.
This is an invitation only lecture.
Sponsorship and additional contribution by Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office.
Elizabeth Yuk Yee Sinn
Born and educated in Hong Kong, Elizabeth Sinn is Hon. Professor at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and was the Deputy Director of the Centre of Asian Studies, both at the University of Hong Kong. She served for many years on the Antiquities Advisory Board and the Council of the Royal Asiatic Society (Hong Kong Branch), and as an Honorary Advisor to the Hong Kong Museum of History. She has published widely on the history of Hong Kong, migration, business, the media and social organization. Her first book, Power and Charity: the Early History of the Tung Wah Hospital, Hong Kong (1989) was re-published in 2003 with a new preface. Her latest work is Pacific Crossing: California Gold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong (2014), the fruit of ten years of research. She is currently writing a book on the history of the Bank of East Asia.
Hong Kong and Economic Trade Center
Established in 1986, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco represents the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government in the western part of the United States. We seek to strengthen and broaden Hong Kong’s economic relations with the 19 western states, by enhancing understanding of the SAR’s free trade policy and its unique advantages as the two-way platform for overseas companies to access the China market and for Chinese companies to go global.