Asians in Colorado

A History of Persecution and Perseverance in the Centennial State

William Wei

  • Published: 2016. Paperback March 2018
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; History / Western History
  • Bibliographic information: 400 pp., 36 bandw illus., 4 maps, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Providing the most comprehensive examination to date of Asians in the Centennial State, William Wei addresses a wide range of experiences, from anti-Chinese riots in late nineteenth-century Denver to the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans at the Amache concentration camp to the more recent influx of Southeast Asian refugees and South Asian tech professionals. Drawing on a wealth of historical sources, Wei reconstructs what life was like for the early Chinese and Japanese pioneers, and he pays special attention to the different challenges faced by those in urban versus rural areas. The result is a groundbreaking approach that helps us better understand how Asians survived-and thrived-in an often hostile environment.

Offering a fresh perspective on how cycles of persecution are repeated, Wei reveals how the treatment of Asian Americans resonates with the experiences of other marginalized groups in American society. His study sheds light not only on the Asian American experience but also on the development of Colorado and the greater American West.
William Wei is professor of history at the University of Colorado. He is the author of The Asian American Movement.

"No one is more qualified than William Wei to write a history of the Asian American experience in Colorado. Asians in Colorado tells a good, coherent story by weaving many captivating episodes and interesting incidents into the grand narrative."
-Liping Zhu, author of The Road to Chinese Exclusion: The Denver Riot, 1880 Election, and the Rise of the West

"By relating topics to film and literature classics, Wei builds a strong connection with general readers and an instantaneous framework for comparing and contrasting experiences with popular figures."
-Linda Tamura, author of Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence: Coming Home to Hood River

List of Illustrations

Prologue Once Upon a Time in the West

1. Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Coming of Asians to Colorado
2. Chinese Pioneers: Looking for Work, Finding Violence Instead
3. Exotic Oasis in the Queen City of the West
4. Importing Chinese Prostitutes, Excluding Chinese Wives
5. The Denver Race Riot and Its Aftermath
6. Japanese Immigrants: From Feudal Peasants to Independent Farmers
7. Yellow Peril: From Threatening Chinamen to Treacherous Japan
8. A Concentration Camp in the Centennial State
9. Loyalty and Betrayal on the Home Front
10. Asian Colorado's Greatest Generation

Epilogue Coming to America, Again

List of Abbreviations
Selected Bibliography

"[Asians in Colorado brings] to light individual actors among the historical Chinese and Japanese American communities in Colorado-ones that could easily be forgotten. In some cases, these stories re-affirm a broader well-known arc in Asian American and American history, but at other times, he adds a useful complexity to our narratives that furthers the argument and showcases the need for local histories."
-Lily Wong,

"A compelling history of Asians in the state."
-Sandra Dallas, Denver Post

"For all Asians in Colorado, this is a must-read book."
-Jules Nadeau, Asian Avenue Magazine

"Asians remained largely invisible in the history of Colorado until William Wei successfully put pen to paper to complete this scholarly narrative. It is much needed, as the sources available on the subject have been limited to a few publications. . . The greatest strength of Wei's book is how he narrates the personal histories of Asians in Colorado."
-Marie von Haas, Colorado Book Review

"Asians in Colorado offers compelling arguments and innovative analysis, tidily packaged for general readers and undergraduate students."
-David Torres Rouff, Western Historical Quarterly