The Last Boat Out of Shanghai and
the Forgotten Exodus to Hong Kong and Beyond
Seventy years ago, millions of panicked Chinese citizens fled the imminent Communist Revolution of 1949. Safe havens like Hong Kong that allowed refugees to enter were bursting at the seams and began taking largely unsuccessful measures to block more immigration. Many thousands of people from Shanghai began to change the rhythms and routines of the British colony and its dominant Guangdong population — not always in welcome ways. Ms. Zia spent 12 years conducting hundreds of interviews about this exodus to Hong Kong, Taiwan, the U.S. and elsewhere, which she documents in her nonfiction book. She discussed her book — which is told through the lives of four main characters — its connections to present-day migrations and her process of researching and writing.
Helen Zia is an award-winning journalist and scholar who has covered Asian- American communities and social and political movements for decades. She is the former executive editor of Ms. Magazine. A second generation Chinese American, Zia has been outspoken on such issues as human rights and equality for women. She traveled to Beijing in 1995 to the UN Fourth World Congress on Women. Her work has been documented in the Academy Award-nominated film, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” and she was profiled in Bill Moyers’ PBS documentary, “Becoming American: The Chinese Experience.” She received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and was a member of Princeton University’s first graduating class of women.
Speaker: Helen Zia,Author/ Fullbright Scholar