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"Loveliest Daughter of Our Ancient Cathay!": Representations of Ethnic and Gender Identity in the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Beauty Pageant

Judy Tzu-Chun Wu
Journal of Social History
Vol. 31, No. 1 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 5-31
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3789855
Page Count: 27
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"Loveliest Daughter of Our Ancient Cathay!": Representations of Ethnic and Gender Identity in the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Beauty Pageant
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Abstract

The Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Beauty Pageant, fırst held in 1958 in San Francisco's Chinatown, serves as a beauty competition, a promotional event to attract tourism, and a means for exploring and celebrating ethnic identity. Because of its multiple purposes, an analysis of the pageant provides insights into Chinese American efforts to construct both gender and ethnic identity during the post World War II era. In defıning the ideal woman to represent Chinatown, pageant organizers responded to developing cultural, economic, and political tensions within the Chinese American community and the broader American society. In turn, these efforts to represent Chinese American womanhood generated a variety of responses, which reflected community conflicts surrounding not only gender roles and ethnic identity but also class divisions and international politics.

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