“American Girls” in Three Acts

Stacilee Ford

in Troubling American Women

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9789888083114
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207639 | DOI:
“American Girls” in Three Acts

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This chapter provides a discussion on encounters in nineteenth-century Macao and Hong Kong. The three acts referred to in the title represent three case studies and types of cultural encounters that took place in the nineteenth century and that foreshadowed what followed. Harriett Low narrates aspects of women's lives within the merchant community of Macao, and Henrietta Shuck bridges the gap between Macao and Hong Kong, offering a glimpse into early Protestant missionary encounters in both places. Low's and Shuck's articulations of the pedagogical impulse serve as prelude to later manifestations of the phenomenon in Hong Kong. It starts by presenting the growth of the US presence in Chinese trade. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of American prostitutes, who have left traces and clues about their lives rather than complete narratives. It appears to show that Belle Emerson, like Low and Shuck, was also concerned about being “useful” in a foreign land. Women's narratives run against the macro grain of trade, empire, and nation building yet they also reveal how individual women colluded in such enterprises.

Keywords: Macao; Hong Kong; cultural encounters; Harriett Low; Henrietta Shuck; China trade; American prostitutes; Belle Emerson; Protestant missionary

Chapter.  15787 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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