Masters Thesis

Creating a Historical Context for Asian/ Asian-American Women: Shifting Identities of Asian/Asian-American Women in Sonoma County, 1900 – the 1950s

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this research is to create a historical context for Historical Archaeology to understand the lived experiences of Asian/Asian-American women so archaeologists can ask questions for the evaluation of historical sites, places, spaces, and properties associated with Asian/Asian-American women. Procedure: A contextual approach utilizing theoretical frameworks from the fields of Asian American studies, Gender Studies, and Historical Archaeology were used to analyze how Asian/Asian-American women create, recreate, maintain their identities in the context of their community involvement, labor participation, marriages, and family dynamics. This research conducted ethnographic interviews of four Sonoma County residents and analyzed historical, archival, and digital resources. Findings: Asian/Asian-American women did not interact with the broader Sonoma County residents or inter-ethnically; however, they were still able to create and maintain a sense of belonging to the community. They took on an assortment of jobs for pay, worked in the family business as unpaid laborers, and took part in the outside labor force. They maintained gendered roles to hold onto their feminine identity while also holding onto the family as a unit. Conclusions: Asian / Asian-American women were empowered actors of their own lives. They were conscious of the social structures around them and adapted to it. They made decisions throughout their lives to take part in the labor force, to join and create communities, and maintain gender roles to maintain their power in social settings that did not allow them to do so.

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