Creating Home on Both Sides of the Pacific: The Archaeology of Old Chinatowns and New Villages. Laura Ng presents the next Asian Cultural Heritage Forum presentation (Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022)

The BUCSA Asian Cultural Heritage Forum (ACHF) Lecture Series and the CAS Archaeology Seminar Series 

are very pleased to present

Creating Home on Both Sides of the Pacific:
The Archaeology of Old Chinatowns and New Villages

Dr. Laura W. Ng
Grinnell College

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022 from 6-7:30 pm ET

in PHO206 (Photonics Building, 8 St. Mary’s Street), Boston University

NOTE: You may attend this event in person in PHO206, or you can attend remotely via Zoom.  To receive the Zoom webinar link, register here:

Free and Open to the Public!


Poster available for download here:  NG, Laura ACHF Archaeology of California Chinatowns 2.10.22 poster4


Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, waves of Chinese migrants immigrated to the United States from rural villages inSoutheastern China. These migrants labored in a variety of occupations such as miner, laundry worker, or merchant, but many lived in ethnic enclaves known as ‘Chinatown’ because of discriminatory ordinances. Over the last fifty years, long-buried Chinatowns across the American West have been excavated by archaeologists and analyses of artifact collections have provided a glimpse of what daily life was like for a group of people who left few first-hand accounts and were often excluded from local historical narratives. Recent archaeological research, however, has focused on the transnational experiences of Chinese migrants and how migration impacted their home villages back in China. In this presentation, Prof. Ng discusses her archaeological research at three interconnected sites: the San Bernardino and Riverside Chinatowns in Southern California and the hometown in Guangdong Province, China, from which many of these Chinatown residents came. Her research indicates that many Chinese migrants who had spent several years in the U.S. moved their families in China to newly built villages, but continued to labor abroad in order to be able to continue sending money back home. As a result, Chinese migrants built enduring communities on both sides of the Pacific and analyses of artifacts from China and California reveal the diversity of objects and ideas that moved between these communities.






About the Speaker:

Laura W. Ng is a historical archaeologist and Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Grinnell College in Iowa. Her research focuses on the archaeology of late nineteenth and early twentieth century transnational Asian American communities. She has participated in the excavation of several World War II Japanese American incarceration camps and her recent research focuses on historic Chinatowns in Southern California and the home villages between which transnational Chinese migrants moved. She received her M.A. in Historical Archaeology from the University of Massachusetts Boston and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Stanford University.


Ng, Laura W. 2021. An Archaeology of Chinese Transnationalism. PhD thesis, Dept. of Anthropology, Stanford University

Voss, Barbara L. Voss, J. Ryan Kennedy, Jinhua (Selia) Tan and Laura W. Ng 2018. The Archaeology of Home. American Antiquity 83 (3), pp 407-426 Published by Cambridge University Press



Sponsored by the

BU Center for the Study of Asia’s Asian Cultural Heritage Forum and the CAS Archaeology Program
with support from the BU Center for the Humanities