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

Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

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