In Remaking Chinese America, Xiaojian Zhao explores the myriad forces that changed and unified Chinese Americans during a key period in American history. Prior to 1940, this immigrant community was predominantly male, but between 1940 and 1965 it was transformed into a family-centered American ethnic community. Zhao pays special attention to forces both inside and outside of the country in order to explain these changing demographics. She scrutinizes the repealed exclusion laws and the immigration laws enacted after 1940. Careful attention is also paid to evolving gender roles, since women constituted the majority of newcomers, significantly changing the sex ratio of the Chinese American population.
As members of a minority sharing a common cultural heritage as well as pressures from the larger society, Chinese Americans networked and struggled to gain equal rights during the cold war period. In defining the political circumstances that brought the Chinese together as a cohesive political body, Zhao also delves into the complexities they faced when questioning their personal national allegiances. Remaking Chinese America uses a wealth of primary sources, including oral histories, newspapers, genealogical documents, and immigration files to illuminate what it was like to be Chinese living in the United States during a period that—until now—has been little studied.