A harmonious family of three generations living under one roof is often an assumed image of a Chinese traditional family. In reality, few Chinese families resemble this image. My article uses the Chung family history to illustrate how a family in rural Guangdong, South China, experienced a fast social ascent or descent in one generation. Its history reveals many aspects of Chinese family tradition, such as filial piety, equal inheritance system among sons, or education as an important family agenda. The rise and fall of this family also helps us understand the competitive social environment of Guangdong that sent hundreds of thousand immigrants overseas in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century. When some members of the Chung family migrated overseas, other members followed. The Chung lineage, similar to numerous Cantonese immigrant families in America, became transnational in culture.
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