As the mining and construction industries declined

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Unformatted text preview: his also has an impact on music, as each of the various subgroups have their own music traditions and hence there is not a single “Asian” music style that can fuse with other ethnic traditions to create a new American genre. “Newness” of the Asian American Community Perhaps one of the most critical issues pertaining to the development of a uniquely Asian American music genre is the relative newness of Asians in America. Although there are some Asian American families who have been in the United States for many generations, the majority of individuals have immigrated within the last three decades. Thus, Asians in America are predominantly first generation. It is not surprising, therefore, that a distinct musical style has not yet emerged. Jazz, too, didn’t develop Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 4 overnight. To understand why the Asian American community is so small and generally “new,” it is important to review the major immigration policies that have governed Asian immigration to the United States. Asian immigration can be roughly divided into three periods: 1849- 1882, 1882- 965, and 1965 to the present. The Three Periods of Asian Immigration 1849- 1882: The Period of Unrestricted Immigration Before and during this period, several Asian groups arrived on the shores of North America. The earliest groups were primarily Filipinos brought on Spanish ships in the early 1700’s who settled in Louisiana, and Chinese sailors, merchants, and artisans arriving in the ports of New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. But the first large wave of immigration from Asia occurred during the Gold Rush of 1849. Like pioneer immigrants from other countries, thousands of mostly male Chinese came to what they called Gum San––“the Gold Mountain”–– to seek their fortunes. After the gold rush slowed and development in the west continued, men were recruited from their villages in southern China to become contract laborers primarily in the mining industry and in railway construction. Most of the laborers did not intend to move permanently, but rather to advance their economic status and then return to their ancestral villages.2 Many did return, but others chose to stay or were not able to earn enough money to pay for their trip back. In 1865, an estimated 12,000 Chinese laborers were brought to America for the building of the Trans- continental Railroad. As the mining and construction industries declined, Chinese laborers moved into fishing and in to agricultural areas. Coming from the Canton River delta area, they knew how to transform the Sacramento River delta area into rich farmland and to channel the water into a sophisticated irrigation network. During the 1860s, anti- Chinese sentiment grew as a reaction to labor conflict, economic depression, and targeted racial bias. In 1870, rioters on the West Coast demanded the deportation of the Chinese and destroyed Chinese neighborhoods. Anti- Chinese sentiment led the U.S. Congress to pass very harsh laws discriminating against the Chinese, including the first restrictive immigration law. This law, known as “The Chinese Exclusion Act,” was passed in 1882 and prohibited the entry of Chinese laborers for ten years and barred Chinese from becoming American citizens. 1882- 1965: The Exclusion Period During this second period, only Asian diplomats, merchants, and students and their dependents were allowed to come into the United States. Members of the “Mongolian 2 This was reflected in their refusal to cut their long hair, required by Manchus to be worn in a braid (or be beheaded) called a “Queue.” If a man were to cut his Que, this would re...
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This document was uploaded on 02/16/2014.

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