Chinese in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2013-12-28 23:26Z by Steven

Chinese in Latin America

Außereuropäische Geschichte

Dorothea A. L. Martin, Professor of History
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina

These books join a growing body of literature on the importance of transpacific migration to Latin America. Two monographs deal with Chinese on the U.S. – Mexican borderlands, covering overlapping time periods and with different emphases. The third, edited work, is a reprint of Volume 5 Number 1 of the “Journal of Chinese Overseas” and a well deserved first for that journal. All make reference to the earlier period of the “coolie trade” when both Chinese and South Asians workers came on indentured contracts, but mainly focus on the period after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which severely restricted Chinese immigration into the U.S. and redirected many immigrants to other states in the Americas.

These works enhance our understanding of the rich history of global labor migration. Most readers are familiar with migration from Europe to the Americas but less so with the diasprodic experiences of Chinese mostly from coastal areas of South China. Their cultural, linguistic and racial differences set them apart setting the stage for the anti-Chinese movements especially in difficult economic and political times.

Schiavone Camacho has eight chapters organized into four parts. Chapters 1-4 deal chronologically with the arrival and settlement of Chinese in Northwestern Mexico and then their removal. Initially, they came to Sonora to work in mines and help build railroads. They were followed by others excluded from entry into the U.S. Goods from China helped them win local customers and soon they competed with Mexican retailers to serve not only town residents but to supply goods for mining companies. “Chinos” were subjected to a string of derogatory names in all of the areas of Latin America. In the period of the Mexican Revolution (1910-12) nationalist rhetoric dominated by ideas of race and “mestizaje” left no place for Chinese, especially in Sonora, a hotbed of revolutionary zeal and home to many of Mexico’s post-revolutionary leaders. Chinese who legally married or took local women in common union were especially targeted. Such women were openly insulted as sluts and their children were ostracized. Economic stress of the Great Depression, the author argues, caused anti-Chinese sentiment to rise again as many Mexican male workers were forcefully returned home from the U.S. Chinese were blamed for no jobs or available women for then. Expulsion by force of law and violence made most Chinese flee, taking their wives and children with them. Most returned to China, many with the aid of US Immigration Authorities who held them at the border and paid for their transportation back to China. Others re-migrated to other parts of Latin America.

Chapters 5-8 document the struggle of the Mexican wives and their mixed blood children to retain or create their Chinese-Mexican identities in the context of their husbands’ reverse diaspora. Often, Chinese men already had Chinese wives; Mexican wives and their children struggled. Ties to the Catholic Church helped them organize, but neither Mexico nor China saw them as citizens. Prompted by political changes within both China and Mexico in the late 1930s, repatriation attempts began and continued through the war years, increasing after the Communist victory in 1949 and even into the 1960s. Personal stories of women’s struggles in this process give depth to the social and political reality women faced.

Grace Pena Delgado covers similar issues, but mainly from the vantage point across the U.S./Mexican border. The book has six chapters with an insightful introduction that addresses and defines key concepts such as “borderlands” and “fronterizos” and points out the failure of both Mexican and U.S. historians to include the lived experiences of Chinese in this region. Chapters 1 and 2 cover the arrival and establishment of Chinese within the border regions. Initially, new arrivals hoped to use the fluid border to thwart the Chinese Exclusion Act. As security along the Arizona – Sonora border increased, the Mexican side became a settlement area. Nevertheless, extended family and old-country regional connections kept cross border ties strong. Claims to Mexican citizenship also allowed back and forth movements. Chapter 3 chronicles the increased crack-down on illegal Chinese entry into the U.S. in the early 20th century, noting that the Canadian border was also a path for illegal entry.

Chapters 4-6 explore the dynamics of Mexican anti-Chinese movements demonizing Chinese as racial polluters, after Porfirian liberalism yielded to the revolutionary nationalism of 1911-12. Sonora State prohibitions on marriage and loss of citizenship for women who married made the issue a moral as well as political one. Delgado focuses on legal measures used in conjunction with the anti-Chinese rhetoric of politicians, the press and businessmen on both sides of the border. A brief lull in the 1920s ended abruptly in the 1930s as Sonorans began to empty their territory of Chinese. Fleeing across the border resulted in deportation to China and led to the “unmaking” of Chinese Mexicans in border region.

The third book contains a short introduction by Look Lai and eight chapters grouped into three parts. Edward Slack, Jr.’s article constitutes Part I, “The Early Colonial Period”. Slack provides an interesting overview of the earliest Chinese movements into Mexico, when New Spain’s silver was used to purchase Chinese products first from Chinese traders in Manila then later directly from agents in South China. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Slack speculates that over 100,000 Asians [all called “chinos”] came to Mexico as immigrants or sailors. Before the mid-19th century, most of these migrants were in the coastal areas around Acapulco or Veracruz or around Mexico City, Puebla and other population centers in the south. These male migrants married into the indigenous or African populations and over time became part of the lower caste in the colonial social hierarchy even as they “Sinofied New Spain.” Chinese textiles, porcelains, and architectural influences were often of higher quality and volume than what reached Europe…

Read the entire review of the books here.

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Chinese Mixed Race in Transnational Comparison (Sawyer Seminar IV)

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2013-09-22 22:09Z by Steven

Chinese Mixed Race in Transnational Comparison (Sawyer Seminar IV)

University of Southern California
Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Center for Japanese Religions and Culture
University Park Campus
Doheny Memorial Library (DML), Room: 110C
2013-09-27, 13:00-17:00 PDT (Local Time)

USC Conference Convenors:

Duncan Williams, Associate Professor of Religion
University of Southern California

Brian C. Bernards, Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Southern California

Velina Hasu Houston, Associate Dean for Faculty Recognition and Development, Director of Dramatic Writing and Professor
University of Southern California


“At the Fringes of the Color Line: Re-Examining the One-Drop Rule Through the Transpacific Crossings of Chinese-White Biracials, 1912-1942”

Emma J. Teng, T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations and Associate Professor of Chinese Studies
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Crossing Boundaries, Claiming a Homeland: Chinese Mexicans’ Transpacific Journeys and the Quest to Belong”

Julia María Schiavone-Camacho, Assistant Professor of History
University of Texas, El Paso

“Sino-Tibetan Hybridity and Ethnic Identity Perception in China”

Patricia Schiaffini, Assistant Professor of Chinese
Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas

Presented by the Center for Japanese Religions and Culture’s “Critical Mixed-Race Studies: A Transpacific Approach” Andrew W. Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminars Series at the University of Southern California.

For more information, click here.

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Chinese Mexicans: Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland, 1910-1960

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2011-11-25 03:02Z by Steven

Chinese Mexicans: Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland, 1910-1960

University of North Carolina Press
May 2012
256 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 11 halftones, 2 maps, 4 tables
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8078-3540-1

Published in association with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University

Julia María Schiavone Camacho, Assistant Professor of History
University of Texas, El Paso

At the turn of the twentieth century, a wave of Chinese men made their way to the northern Mexican border state of Sonora to work and live. The ties—and families—these Mexicans and Chinese created during led to the formation of a new cultural identity: Chinese Mexican. During the tumult of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, however, anti-Chinese sentiment ultimately led to mass expulsion of these people. Julia María Schiavone Camacho follows the community through the mid-twentieth century, across borders and oceans, to show how they fought for their place as Mexicans, both in Mexico and abroad.

Tracing transnational geography, Schiavone Camacho explores how these men and women developed a strong sense of Mexican national identity while living abroad in the United States, briefly, and then in southeast Asia where they created a hybrid community and taught their children about the Mexican homeland. Schiavone Camacho also addresses how Mexican women challenged their legal status after being stripped of Mexican citizenship because they married Chinese men. After repatriation in the 1930s-1960s, Chinese Mexican men and women, who had left Mexico with strong regional identities, now claimed national cultural belonging and Mexican identity in ways they had not before.

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Becoming Mexican Across the Pacific: The Expulsion of Mexican Chinese Families from Mexico to China and Diasporic Imaginings of a Mexican Homeland, 1930s–60s

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Papers/Presentations, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2010-01-08 18:01Z by Steven

Becoming Mexican Across the Pacific: The Expulsion of Mexican Chinese Families from Mexico to China and Diasporic Imaginings of a Mexican Homeland, 1930s–60s

American Historical Association
124th Annual Meeting
Friday, 2010-01-10 11:40 PST (Local Time)
San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina
Torrey 3 (Marriott)
San Diego, California

Julia María Schiavone Camacho, Assistant Professor of History
University of Texa, El Paso

Chinese men arrived in Mexico after Chinese Exclusion in the United States. Chinese concentrated in the north due to its proximity to the United States and opportunities in the developing economy. Chinese men forged a variety of ties with Mexicans including romantic liaisons with Mexican women. Anti-Chinese campaigns emerged in the border state Sonora during the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Spreading rapidly and gaining tremendous power, the movement reached its zenith during the Great Depression when the United States forcibly repatriated hundreds of thousands of Mexicans. Overlapping partially with Mexican “repatriation,” a mass expulsion of Chinese occurred in Sonora and its southern neighbor Sinaloa. Mexican women and Chinese Mexican children accompanied Chinese men for a variety of reasons. Some Chinese men and Mexican Chinese families departed Sonora and Sinaloa through Mexican ports. Others traversed the Mexican-U.S. borderlands, landing in the custody of U.S. Immigration Service agents who, in enforcing the Chinese Exclusion Acts, jailed and deported them to China. Complicating international relations, the United States accused officials in Sonora of violating its immigration laws by forcing Chinese across its border. Mexican Chinese families faced great challenges in their new locations in Guangdong province. While some families remained unified, others broke apart. The Mexican Chinese families, congregated in Portuguese Macau. The colony’s Catholic and Iberian culture was similar to Mexico’s and the Mexican Chinese found niches. Over time, they created a coherent enclave whose web extended to British Hong Kong as well as Guangdong. The concept of the “Mexican homeland” gained increasing salience in the context of great flux in mid-twentieth-century China. The Mexican Chinese “became Mexican” over time and from abroad as they struggled to return to Mexico. Following these families across borders and oceans, this paper examines larger questions of nationalism and “diasporas.”

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Crossing Boundaries, Claiming a Homeland: The Mexican Chinese Transpacific Journey to Becoming Mexican, 1910s-1960s

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Papers/Presentations, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2010-01-07 22:57Z by Steven

Crossing Boundaries, Claiming a Homeland: The Mexican Chinese Transpacific Journey to Becoming Mexican, 1910s-1960s

2009 Meeting of the Latin American Studies Association
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2009-06-11 through 2009-06-14

Julia María Schiavone Camacho, Assistant Professor of History
University of Texa, El Paso

On May 12, 1960, the Mexican Chinese community leader in Macau, Ramón Lay Mazo, wrote to a prominent Mexican widow, Doña Concepción Rodríguez Viuda de Aragón, in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Seeking her continued support for the Mexican Chinese repatriation cause, he conveyed the deep, devoted love Mexican women living in China felt for their nation, Mexico. When he asked Mexican women in China whether they wanted to move to other countries, they replied, “Ni que me den un palacio allá, prefiero México, aunque vaya a vivir bajo un mesquite” (“Not even if they gave me a palace there, I prefer Mexico, even if I have to live under a mesquite”). Disheartened by the Mexican government’s disregard for them and their desperate situations, Ramón tried to convince Mexican women to consider living elsewhere. He warned them that Mexico might not be the same as it once was and that it might be more difficult to survive in the communities where they had once lived. To this the women rejoined, “Aunque vayamos a escarbar camotes amargos a la sierra, queremos México” (“Even if we have to dig for bitter sweet potatoes in the sierra, we want Mexico”). The conditions, where in the nation they might live, and how long they might have to wait were no matter. They wanted to return to the Mexican homeland they had longed for since years past…

Read the entire paper here.

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Crossing Boundaries, Claiming a Homeland: The Mexican Chinese Transpacific Journey to Becoming Mexican, 1930s–1960s

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Mexico, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2010-01-07 20:17Z by Steven

Crossing Boundaries, Claiming a Homeland: The Mexican Chinese Transpacific Journey to Becoming Mexican, 1930s–1960s

Pacific Historical Review
Volume 78, Number 4 (November 2009)
pages 545–577
DOI 10.1525/phr.2009.78.4.545

Julia María Schiavone Camacho, Assistant Professor of History
University of Texa, El Paso

This article follows Mexican Chinese families from Mexico, across the Mexican-U.S. border, to China, and back to Mexico. Settling in northern Mexico in the nineteenth century, Chinese formed multiple ties with Mexicans. An anti-Chinese movement emerged during the Mexican Revolution and peaked during the Great Depression. The Mexican government deported several thousand Chinese men and their Mexican-origin families from Sonora and neighboring Sinaloa, some directly to China and others to the United States, whose immigration agents also deported the families to China. They arrived in Guangdong (Canton) Province but eventually congregated in Macau where they forged a coherent Mexican Chinese enclave. Developing a strategic Mexican nationalism, they appealed for repatriation. The Mexican Chinese “became Mexican” only after authorities compelled them to struggle for years from abroad for the inclusion of their mixed-race families in the nation. They became diasporic citizens and fashioned hybrid identities to survive in Mexico and China.

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