Merchants, commerce, and the making of San Francisco's Chinatown
- This dissertation is an economic history of Chinatown with a focus on the role of the Chinese merchants. It begins in the 1850s as the Chinese arrived in California in greater numbers and concludes with the dramatic changes in Chinatown in the years that followed the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The dissertation is framed around the idea of doux-commerce, that the spread of commercial relations can foster civility and tolerance among disparate populations, an idea originating with Enlightenment thinkers and articulated in Albert Hirschman's essay Rival Views of Market Society. Specifically, this dissertation builds upon a model presented in Saumitra Jha's 2013 paper, Trade, Institutions and Ethnic Tolerance: Evidence from South Asia, which suggests commercial relations can have such an effect when the two populations are complementary rather than competitive in their economic functions. The story of the Chinese merchants and Chinatown presented in this dissertation appears to fit this model on a prima facie basis—"complementarity" helps explain the relatively better treatment enjoyed by the Chinese merchants compared to other Chinese. It also helps explain the transformation in attitudes toward Chinatown from fierce hostility in the late nineteenth century to a celebration of the rebuilt neighborhood after the 1906 earthquake as the new Chinatown was valued by the city for its contributions to trade and tourism. The dissertation argues, however, that on closer inspection, complementarity is not an exogenous feature of the situation. Rather, it was a perception that required active cultivation. The dissertation thus describes how American perceptions of the Chinese and Chinatown changed and the significant role the Chinese merchants had in developing these perceptions over time. The dissertation pays particular attention to the institution of the Oriental Bazaar, which served as an important intersection between the Chinese and Americans cultures and which served as the basis for the redevelopment of Chinatown.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Chou, Christopher A
|Stanford University, Department of Economics.
|Wright, Gavin, 1943-
|Wright, Gavin, 1943-
|Statement of responsibility
|Christopher A. Chou.
|Submitted to the Department of Economics.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2018.
- © 2018 by Christopher Alan Chou
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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