Borderland Chinese: Community identity and cultural change

Anna Louise Fahy, University of Texas at El Paso


In the 1880s, Chinese arrived in El Paso together with a highly diverse and rapidly growing population that hoped to capitalize on the new railroad enterprise. Their experience in El Paso was successful beyond expectations given the nation's anti-Chinese sentiment. The available information about the Chinese is often stereotypical. Using oral histories, ethnographic interviews, and archival materials, this thesis argues for a new interpretation of Chinese history. It argues that a Chinese community materialized in El Paso with arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which did not abandon the Chinese; the Chinese have had a unique experience here; "Chinatown" had no specific geographical boundaries; that myths cause misunderstanding of chophouses, opium dens, and tunnels; and the Chinese community did not disappear by World War I. Supporting these arguments, this thesis considers culture, institutions, business skills, and political, cultural, and geographical changes beginning in 1881 and continuing until the present.

Subject Area

Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Fahy, Anna Louise, "Borderland Chinese: Community identity and cultural change" (2006). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1439475.