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Shared Interests Group

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The Nameless China

I appreciate you raising issues about cultural appropriation, which are critically important. However, I feel you have distorted key aspects of Faith Erin Hicks' work in The Nameless City. She has not labeled this city as "nameless" in a trivial or thoughtless way; instead, her narrative very intentionally addresses the relationship between the power of colonial rulers and the power to control the use of language to name and define who is human. This is not cultural appropriation. If anything, we need more stories like this, especially ones that are written in age-appropriate ways for young readers. In spite of your good intentions, your critique feels like a stretch to me, as if you are desperate to prove what a culturally competent white reviewer you are. In the process, you have missed and distorted some of the key strengths in Faith Erin Hicks' wonderful story. I strongly disagree with your review, and I think it would be unfortunate if anyone missed out on the first installment of this series because of your misleading comments.

The Nameless China


(Header image: A wind-bell and Teruterubozu hang under a tree in an area inside a local cemetery designated for scattering the ashes of the nameless dead, in Luoyang, Henan province, March 2021. Yuan Ye/Sixth Tone)

**"Nameless Builders of the Transcontinental Railroad" by William F. Chew, 2004. Mr. Chew's book likely will be of verygreatinterest, as he has for the first time extracted much detailedinformation about theChinese workers from the recently available primary source CPRRpayroll records at theCaliforniaState Railroad Museum. For example, he found that "Central PacificPayrollSheetsNo.26 and No. 34 dated January and February 1864, are the documents that recordthe first Chinese railroad workers, Hung Wah and Ah Toy, who supervised a crewof 23 unnamed workers." An extensive appendix lists by name all of the ChineseCPRR workers identified in the payroll records. Mr. Chew is to be congratulatedfor this important contribution. Unfortunately,however,the book also, for some of the analysis, relies upon problematic secondarysourcesand attempts calculations of the estimated total Chinese workforce and number killed that appearnot to be as precise as implied.[Contraryto the book's conclusion, the engineers' and contemporary newspaper reports were (with one exception) of only few casualties. The book attempts to calculate the size of the workforce despite presenting reseach showing names of only the many headmen listed but almost none ofthe "nameless" Chinese laborers that were left unrecorded and finding that more than half of the monthlypayrolldocumentswere missing. Supt. Strobridge's 19th century testimonywas that "our maximum strength ... verynearlyapproached 10,000men on the work" while Mr. Chew instead is attempting to calculatethattotalnumberof Chinese who worked for the CPRR over time.] See William Chew's RebuttalThe followinggraphwaspreparedfromWilliamF.Chew's data found in his Table 1, p.45 (maximum is 6,190 Chineseworkers,with 160,958 man-days paidinApril, 1866):

The ministry adds that intelligence agents in charge of the security of an Islamic society should come from an Islamic background and advises citizens to be wary of anyone who claims to be working for Iranian intelligence."The nameless soldiers of the Hidden Imam," it says, are under cover and do not have identity cards. 041b061a72


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