Transnational Celebrations in Changing Political Climates

Chiou-Ling Yeh

in Making an American Festival

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780520253506
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942431 | DOI:
Transnational Celebrations in Changing Political Climates

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In 1951, San Francisco's Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association staged a Chinese New Year celebration to “support the anti-communism policy of the U.S. government.” The parade's celebratory spirit was dampened not only by a firecracker ban, but also by a holiday-goods shortage, the result of an embargo against China that went into effect after it entered the Korean War in 1950. Political upheaval in China was one factor that affected Chinese American attitudes toward ethnic celebration, but there were also other factors as well, including the acculturation of Chinese Americans and the relationship between China and the United States. Ethnic leaders considered the Chinese New Year Festival as an important occasion to voice Chinese American patriotism and to rescue troubled Chinatown businesses. Yet this time, these leaders did not simply sell the exotic characteristics of the ethnic celebration, but also situated it in Cold War rhetoric and policy. The ethnic celebration was also a way for Chinese Americans to bond among themselves, to connect with their family members and relatives in China, and to attract tourists into Chinatown.

Keywords: San Francisco; Consolidated Benevolent Association; Chinese New Year; firecracker ban; China; Chinatown; Chinese Americans; patriotism; Cold War; United States

Chapter.  6365 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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