Manchuria in Dongbei

Manchuria in Dongbei

Manchuria in Dongbei

In early 2010, a Fulbright-Hays fellowship enabled me to move from Berkeley, California to the metropolis of Shenyang in northeast China (Dōngběi 东北). I had grown up listening to my grandma and grandpa’s stories on hot afternoons after school in their avocado green house on Orange Avenue in Cypress, California. Grandma shared memories of playing on the floor of her father’s soda pop bottling factory (bāwángsì 八王寺) as a young girl in Shenyang in the 1910s—stories about my great-grandfather, who came from the northern wilderness of Manchuria in a fish-skin coat and made an urban life for himself in Shenyang. He had left my great-grandmother by 1931, when my grandmother was a teenager and the Japanese soldiers invaded the region. My great-grandfather had made a small fortune working for the British-American Tobacco Company and invested it in kerosene, only to lose it all in a massive explosion when the Japanese bombed the hills and mountains running across southern Manchuria and northern Korea, hunting for guerrilla fighters.

I knew then that I wanted to learn the history of the place my family came from. Graduate school gave me the unique opportunity to actually live, teach, and study in northeast China. This photo essay includes a small selection of photographs I took over those years.