The essay addresses the question “What is Genealogy?” through a consideration of the value of traditional genealogical narratives of families for the Chinese state and society, and the implications of their absence for those caught up in the 19th century diaspora to America. Using genealogy as a method of critical inquiry, however, enables scholars to begin studying the significance of this phenomenon in the lives of Chinese immigrants and the centrality of family in safeguarding their legacy. It does this through an examination of the lives of two Chinese community leaders in Denver’s Chinatown. It concludes with a call for a horizontal genealogical study of community leaders in order to have a better understanding of who they were and the role they played in Chinese America.
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