Abstract

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay area, this study traces the emergence of a Chinese immigrant working-class patriarchy that is enabled by the articulation of “traditional” Chinesefemininity with new or reinvented gendered expectations in immigrant settings. I argue that the emergence and configuration of this patriarchy demonstrates the flexibility of patriarchal ruling. Its formation of new gendered expectations in immigrant settings by no means indicates that the “old” values from the homeland, such as chastity, self-sacrifice, and self abnegation, have become obsolete upon migration, or that these gendered expectations are uniquely “ethnic Chinese.” On the contrary, the “old” values are reinvented and invoked by the Chinese immigrant working-class patriarchy to build and sustain its power in U.S. society. Therefore, this patriarchy also implicates the structural patriarchy and the racial and class inequalities of the host society. Finally, I contend that various patriarchal hegemonies—East or West, American or Chinese, ethnic or mainstream, traditional or contemporary—should be interpreted in a way that illuminates not just their uniqueness but also their internal connections, mutual constitutions, and constant negotiations.

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