Annelise Heinz is on hand to talk about her new book, Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2021). An assistant professor of history at the University of Oregon, she has lived and played mahjong in the United States and southwestern China. Her work has been featured by National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, Tablet, and Kveller, among others.
Mahjong games have fostered distinct moments in social cultures in the United States. This mass-produced game crossed the Pacific, creating waves of popularity over the twentieth century. Heinz narrates the history of this game to show how it has created a variety of meanings, among them: American modernity, Chinese American heritage, and Jewish American women's culture. As it traveled from China to the United States and caught on with Hollywood starlets, high society, middle-class housewives, and immigrants alike, mahjong became a quintessentially American game.
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