The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-century New York City

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Princeton University Press, 2005 - 298 pagini

In the summer of 1909, the gruesome murder of nineteen-year-old Elsie Sigel sent shock waves through New York City and the nation at large. The young woman's strangled corpse was discovered inside a trunk in the midtown Manhattan apartment of her reputed former Sunday school student and lover, a Chinese man named Leon Ling.


Through the lens of this unsolved murder, Mary Ting Yi Lui offers a fascinating snapshot of social and sexual relations between Chinese and non-Chinese populations in turn-of-the-century New York City. Sigel's murder was more than a notorious crime, Lui contends. It was a clear signal that attempts to maintain geographical and social boundaries between the city's Chinese male and white female populations had failed.


When police discovered Sigel and Leon Ling's love letters, giving rise to the theory that Leon Ling killed his lover in a fit of jealous rage, this idea became even more embedded in the public consciousness. New Yorkers condemned the work of Chinese missions and eagerly participated in the massive national and international manhunt to locate the vanished Leon Ling.


Lui explores how the narratives of racial and sexual danger that arose from the Sigel murder revealed widespread concerns about interracial social and sexual mixing during the era. She also examines how they provoked far-reaching skepticism about regulatory efforts to limit the social and physical mobility of Chinese immigrants and white working-class and middle-class women.


Through her thorough re-examination of this notorious murder, Lui reveals in unprecedented detail how contemporary politics of race, gender, and sexuality shaped public responses to the presence of Chinese immigrants during the Chinese exclusion era.

 

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LibraryThing Review

Comentariu Utilizator  - DarthDeverell - LibraryThing

In The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City, Mary Ting Yi Lui examines the murder of Elsie Sigel as a window into the ... Citiți recenzia completă

LibraryThing Review

Comentariu Utilizator  - ElizabethChapman - LibraryThing

A well-researched and well-written account of the 1909 murder of Elsie Sigel in New York. Her death was a gruesome mystery, although suspicion quickly turned to her Chinese Sunday school student and ... Citiți recenzia completă

Cuprins

Find Miss Sigel Dead in Trunk
1
Terra Incognita Mapping Chinatowns Racial and Gender Boundaries in Lower Manhattan
17
Beyond Chinatown Policing Chinese American Male Mobility in New York City
52
Policing Urban Girls and Womens Mobility and Desires
81
Playing the Missionary Game
111
Chinese American Interracial Couples and Families in New York City
143
The Most Remarkable Getaway in Police History
175
Disgrace on the Whole Body of Our People
198
Epilogue
222
Notes
227
Bibliography
277
Index
293
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Despre autor (2005)

Mary Ting Yi Lui is Assistant Professor of American Studies and History at Yale University. She is a former curator of the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in New York City.

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