The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky: A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana

Posted: April 21, 2022 by extremehistory in Uncategorized

Join the Extreme History Project and Montana State University’s Ivan Doig Center for the Study of the Lands & Peoples of the North American West for an evening with Mark Johnson at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT on May 17 at 6pm for this in-person event. Johnson will discuss his new book, “The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky: A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana.” Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

About “The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky”: From the earliest days of non-Native settlement of Montana, Chinese pioneers played a key role in the region’s development. Yet this population, so crucial to Montana’s development, remains underrepresented in historical accounts. The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky recovers the stories of Montana’s Chinese population in their own words and deepens understanding of Chinese experiences in Montana with a global lens. Mark Johnson has mined several large collections of primary documents left by Chinese pioneers, rendered in English here for the first time through a transnational translation project. These collections, spanning the 1880s-1950s, provide insight into the pressures the Chinese community faced—from family members back in China and from non-Chinese Montanans—as economic and cultural disturbances complicated acceptance of Chinese residents in the state. Through their own voices The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky reveals the agency of Chinese Montanans in the history of the American West and China.

Mark Johnson is an assistant professor with the University of Notre Dame whose research focuses on telling the history of Chinese communities in Montana in their own words and through a global lens.

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