Week 5 – Asian Diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Historical Overview

This article, although an introduction, reminds us of two important issues. First, to understand Latin America, we need to look across the Pacific, and not just the Atlantic, as many of us are taught. Second, globalization is a much older phenomenon than many of us are used to.

History, they say does not repeat itself, and although at times it may look that way, there are many similarities as there are differences; globalization is one such phenomenon. Today, we think of globalization as a contemporary issue that began in the 1960s, and took full force in the 1990s with the fall of the Soviet Union. If we look back however, globalization has expanded and retrenched our world twice before beginning in 1565, when the Acapulco-Manila Galleon first linked the globe, then roughly around the 1850s until the outbreak of World War I.

The article sheds light on a centuries old migration that has been omitted, excluded, or forgotten. It introduces Asian migration to the Americas, which like most migrations, ebb and flow throughout different time periods and geographies.  And although the article only surveys Asian migration, it serves as a good prelude to later readings on Japanese and Chinese communities.

It is interesting to see a glimpse of migration during the globalization of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. After the abolition of slavery, which in itself was gradual, there was still a need for cheap labour by different empires and emerging nation-states to work the vast plantations in different parts of the globe. Moreover, the gold rush taking place in the United States, Australia, Canada, Peru, etc. made the acquiring access to labour that much more pressing. The gold rush attracted a number of Chinese to California, which brought the attention of the Spanish Crown in trying to provide workers for the sugar plantations in Cuba (a Spanish colony until 1898). In 1847, what became known as La Trata Amarilla or Yellow Trade began with Cantonese migrants going to Cuba as indentured workers. The Peruvian government took notice, and by 1849, it enacted its own Trata. By 1874, the end of indentured migration to Peru and Cuba, over 225,000 Chinese had crossed the Pacific in ships that became known as ‘floating hells’. Similar events took place throughout Central America and the Caribbean, where African Slaves were traded for Chinese indentured workers. The history of Chinese migration to the Americas is one riddled with conflict, violence, and exclusion; for example, there is not one single country in the entire continent that did not at one time or another enact anti-immigration laws specifically targeting the Chinese.

On another note, it is important, as the authors point out, the history of the Chinese in Latin America “has been largely hidden in plain sight”. As with any history, the majority it is written by those in power, but I don’t think this answers the entire question. In reading many historical accounts on Latin America, the conflicts between colonizers, criollos (the descendants of Spanish colonizers), Afro-communities, and Indigenous populations is for the most part intertwined. At the same time, with the exception of Cuba, where Chinese-Cubans are viewed as part of those who fought for liberation from the Spanish, Chinese communities elsewhere were regarded through a negative lens. I’m still trying to figure this out.

We can also view this article and make some parallels with what is going on today. The majority of Chinese migrants to Peru and Cuba between 1847 and 1874 (the majority that arrived post-1874 were business people from Hong Kong and California) were for the most part recruited as unskilled labour for the sugar plantations in Cuba, and the cotton and sugar plantations, railroad construction, and mining in Peru. Following the end in the indentured worker program, the majority did not have enough funds to return home (many were cheated from their wages), which propagated an internal migration to the urban centres throughout Cuba and Peru. Like today, many worked in areas that locals did not want to, as well as a number started their own businesses with small restaurants in poor neighbourhoods called fondas being the most popular. Anti-Chinese or antichinismo became evident when people throughout he major urban centres began to blame this community for taking jobs away from native ‘Peruvians’, whatever that means. However, it was not until the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, when other countries in Latin America also began to pass their own versions of this act.

Two reasons, at least in the Peruvian case why the Chinese were viewed in a negative light had to do with the extension of credit and travelling in parts of the country where others did want to such as the Amazon, and setting up shop there. The willingness of Chinese businesses to extend credit and sell things cheaper became a point of contention between locals and the new arrivals. Locals saw this competition as unwanted, and instead of adjusting and competing, they used the scapegoat of ‘job takers’ combined with racism to make the national government enact laws curtailing Chinese migration. The fact that many Chinese moved throughout the country, even to the Amazon, and become successful, also led to their vilification.

What do you think?

28 thoughts on “Week 5 – Asian Diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Historical Overview”

  1. I really appreciate having this section in our syllabus, as I also find that the topic of migration from Asia to Latin-America is often neglected both in public discussions and the academia.

    The motifs of discrimination and deportation (from Sonora and Sinaloa, Schiavone: p. 546) of Asian immigrants in Latin-America and the U.S. (see Chinese Exclusion Acts) were surprising at first surprising as Asian immigrants or people of Asian descent are often seen as a “model minority” in the contemporary U.S. American context. It is however important to talk about the prejudices and injustice they had to face throughout the centuries.

    In relation to the case of the Chinese-Peruvians mentioned by Mr. Rubio, although the internment of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. during the Second World War has been more or less subject to various public opinions, there is little information regarding the internments of people of Japanese heritage in Brazil and Peru during that period. In fact, the U.S. government worked with Latin-American authorities and thus, approximately 2 000 Japanese-Peruvians were deported to U.S. American (!) concentration camps during the war. In addition to a political agenda, there was also a racial undertone – with the goal of “whitening” the nation. In this racial perspective, it is shocking how undifferentiated these anti-Asian sentiments are in the region. I recently read an article on Whiteness to Diversity in Bicentennial Argentina (Chisu Teresa Ko: 2014), where the author is discussing the topic of Japanese-Argentinians and how they are still discriminated as “chinos”. This racial slut is as fascinating as it is terrible and primitive, as it forces an ethnic term onto a whole race. Alberto Fujimori, who Mr. Rubio mentioned in the first meeting, former president of Peru of Japanese descent had been also called “El Chino” during the election campaign. This undifferentiated racism at the intersection of nation and race can be also observed in Europe, where people of Asian heritage are often simply referred to as “Chinese”.

    I also found the racial discourse beyond the black-white perspective by Hu-Dehart and Lopez very interesting and how “who is and is not classified as ‘white’ changes within different political contexts” (p. 17). It very much shows the backwardness and senselessness of the concept of “whiteness” or even race in such a multi-ethnic and mixed-race region as the Americas.

  2. This article helped me to broaden my view of the construction of colonial and postcolonial Latin America. The exclusion of Asian-(Latino)American history from the historical canon, for example in secondary school education, explains my ignorance in the subject. In school we were taught of the colonial system in the Andes (or what is nowadays Ecuador), which was composed of five castes, which were based on racial phenotypes: Spanish, criollos, mestizos, indígenas, negros. Maybe this has to do with the fact that, as far as I know, in Ecuador there was much less migration from Asia than in Peru. Still, I am sure that students could be taught more about this topic in school.
    I wondered why most Japanese immigrants came to Brazil. Did this have to do with less racist legislation or did it have economical reasons?
    Another example I would like to point out is the simplistic and racist use of the word “chino”. The text mentions that many non-Chinese people of Asian descent were called “chinos”, e.g. Fujimori.
    Ironically, this proto-fascist and anti-communist is given the same name as Maoist groups, which in Ecuador are called “los chinos”.
    In today’s Ecuador, China is playing an important role, especially in petroleum and mining projects in the Amazon region. This is however not only a capital investment, as the text states (p.15), but is also accompanied by a change in the international relations of the country. Before the Alianza Pais government was elected in 2007, oil was exported to the US and gasoline was imported again. The nationalization of the countries natural resources was seen as a great step towards political and economical independence. However, Chinese interest in Ecuadors resources, and its lack of possibilities to develop a non-extractivist economy, made the country dependable on Chinese capital. This is also to be seen in Nicaragua, where the Nicaragua Canal is being built as a rival to the Panama Canal, with huge impact on the environment and indigenous peoples.

  3. I also think this topic is interesting and not mentioned enough in the public discourse. I think it may be due to the fact that nations (or certain parties) are trying to form a national identity through a common history, common sacrifices, shared overcoming of crisis and so on. But the more we elaborate on a nation’s diverse ethnicity, the more we refute their claims of a homogenous national identity.

    I see identical claims in the US domestic policy between the Chinese immigrants with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the American concentration camps for Japanese immigrants during the second World-War and a part of the Republican party nowadays attempting to restrict/ban Muslims from entering the US, and condemning them to be the focus of animosity which further strengthens after every act of terror. It is deeply disheartening to understand “the West” will always find an out-group to abuse, and the scary part is this abuse has been accepted and supported by (apparently) most of the nation’s population throughout history.

    I liked their point on minorities being able to present themselves as patriotic, even when this patriotism reinforced white supremacy. It is similar to several, once excluded, groups of society, which nowadays take advantage of the global blame on Muslims, probably to take the focus off of themselves and to feel more included. But when we support this kind of exclusion towards a specific ethnicity/orientation/background, we merely postpone our own exclusion.

    There is an appropriate poem by Martin Niemöller, a German Pastor opposed to Hitler during his regime to describe this, I hope it’s not going off-topic:
    “First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist
    Then they came for the Socialists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a trade unionist
    Then they came for the Jews
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew
    Then they came for me
    And there was no one left”


    I agree with Aron that the concept of “whiteness” changes according to context, like they show with the example of Chinese and Japanese perceptions in South Africa during Apartheid. There is a very good book by Trevor Noah, a mixed race south-african comedian – “Born a Crime”, in which there is a part he shows how confusing the race system was, also to those who were supposed to maintain it. Shopkeepers and restaurant employees couldn’t tell the difference between people of Japanese or Chinese descent. Moreover, between tourists and residents of various ethnicities.

  4. I agree with the comments posted before regarding racial concepts. I think the text by Hu-DeHart and López shows the inherent flaws that come with racial segregation and racial discrimination, especially when discrimination is institutionalized, as was the case in apartheid era South Africa, where Chinese immigrants weren’t categorized neither as “black” or “white” (p.18).
    As a Latin American, I found it very interesting to read about immigration to the continent from Asia, as it is indeed an under-regarded aspect of society and culture nowadays. There is part of the centre of Mexico City that is called the “barrio chino” much alike the “Chinatowns” that can be seen in some US cities. I’d be very interested to find out if the concentration of Chinese immigrants in this form in a small neighborhood of a city can also be seen in other parts of Latin America, or only in the U.S. and Mexico.

  5. After i’ve read this article i realised this topic is not discussed enough nowadays in public or mass media, because migration from Asia to Latin America rose pretty dramatically.
    I feel that this article focused on really important issue, that it is important to look broader across Pacific as it was said here before. As we are not talking about 10 or even 100 people, article shows us that there are about 55 millions ethnic Chinese migrated by the end of 20th century. Obviously such a big diaspora definitely would influence on food, music, language, literature and art inside the country. It’s just amusing how such a big part of migration history is not usually discussed, but if we will look now all the Chinatowns in Cuba or any other country in every big city work on cities profit and to attract tourists.
    As an example Barrio Chino de Havana is one of the oldest and largest Chinatowns in Latin America with well known Chinese restaurants but exist now only to attract tourist, even people who lives there usually are non-Chinese.
    I got an impression that nowadays this diaspora almost got forgotten.

  6. This week’s article by Evelyn Hu-DeHart and Kathleen López provides an insight into the historical evolvement of Asian presence in and Asian migration to Latin America and the Caribbean. I think this article is of great significance as a starting point for further research for scholars who want to study Asian migration and Asian diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean, because this research focus has long been neglected in the academic study of Latin America and the Caribbean.

    I myself have to admit that I have no substantial knowledge of Asian migration to Latin America and the Caribbean that would allow me to adequately discuss this topic. This is why Hu-DeHart’s and López’ work is of great interest to me. I found it especially interesting to learn about the rich history of Asians in the region, and to read about the permanent imprints the Asian presence has left in popular and everyday life in the region, with examples of such Asian influences ranging from food and music, to language, literature and art.

    I also found it interesting to learn more about the history of the three major Asian diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean, namely East Indian, the Chinese, and the Japanese. In that context, I am particularly interested in the instances of racism and anti-Asianism these groups encountered at different points in time, and at different places throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and how these experiences differed according to the dimensions of Asian migration to different countries and regions.

    In addition, I found the section of the text, in which the authors highlight instances of Afro-Asian intersections to be enriching from an academic perspective. I think finding out more about moments of tension and discrimination, or about examples of alliances and cooperation between Asians and African Americans would be an enthralling topic for further research.

  7. The text by Evelyn Hu-DeHart and Kathleen López sheds light on Asian migration to Latin America, along with some historical background but, even more interestingly, also discussing Asian influence on Latin American culture.

    To me, the fact that this aspect of history has mostly been kept in the dark, makes this text even more read-worthy. When it came to Columbus, my high school studies for example ended right with the discovery of America. There has been no mention of how this history continued and which other directions it took until this day. This is some very enlightening information that should be spread out much more.

    This also led me to the following thoughts:

    Since the refugee crisis migration has become a huge topic in recent months and years. This text shows (once more), however that migration is probably as old as time. I wonder how society would perceive migration today if more people were aware of this. Until now it seems as if society looks at migration as this scary, “unique” phenomenon even though it is clearly nothing new.

    A particular passage made me think of last week’s reading where some of us were surprised by America’s, a nation that arose from a flow of immigrants, attitude towards migrants. Today’s text made clear to me again, that the United States has for a long time had strict migration policies in mind and not just towards Mexicans as it seems.

    Speaking of history repeating itself I find it worth noticing how a nation (America which later became the US) that turned to migration as a way to escape bad conditions in their home land (the United Kingdom) has for a long time been imposing restrictions on other migrants until this day. It feels as if they have not learned much from their own history. Historically the population of the United States has its origins from UK settlers. These people left their homes because they wanted a better life. Today however, the descendants of these people make it difficult for new migrants to have that exact good life in the States. Isn’t that interesting?

  8. I think this reading gives a succinct introduction of Asian diaspora in Latin America. There are 2 parts of the reading that interest me the most, first of which is the section on Afro-Asian intersections. Asians and African migrants were both hired as laborers, but why is the image of a slave often depicted as an African instead of an Asian? The authors tried to explain this briefly, stating that Asians resisted oppression from the start and somehow were perceived by white planters as “more industrious and less threatening” as compared to African laborers. They even thought of Asians as possible buffers between the highest and lowest classes of society (white planters at the top and black slaves at the bottom). However, I would be keen to learn more about why Asians are not as predominantly depicted as slaves (as compared to the Africans).

    I think the author has also raised an important question about wither the solidarity between Cubans and Chinese/Okinawans will come to an end as Chinese entrepreneurs might potentially act as colonizers and take control in Latin America. China itself has an expansionist history, and even today, we see China aggressively trying to reclaim land in the South China Sea. Chinese emigrants today largely comprise of highly educated and skilled workers. The government has come to terms with emigration patterns and is connecting with the Chinese diaspora without expecting their permanent return (https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/2016/emigration-trends-and-policies-in-china-movement-of-the-wealthy-and-highly-skilled/). Such support from the government definitely makes it more possible for Chinese entrepreneurs to “take over” economies in Latin America. The only thing that might get in the way of these Chinese entrepreneurs is intervention from local governments. This could potentially be classified as modern day Chinese colonization as they are bringing in new businesses and technologies to Latin America. Cutting off these businesses might give jobs back to the locals, but it also means that locals have to find an alternate way to learn new innovations and technologies. It is a difficult sacrifice and I am keen to see how the Latin American region manages such pressures. Colonialism is often associated with much negativity but coming from a previously colonized state, the perks of learning new technologies and skills can change the course of development drastically, provided that there are good local leaders to step up and manage the relations between colonial masters and the local interests.

    1. Hi Zoe,

      There is a strong debate between historians on the subject of salvery. Were Chinese (later Japanese) indentured workers also slaves? The answer seems to depend on how you look at it. One groups asserts that in fact Chinese indentured workers were infact slaves in everything but name. They were transported the same way as African slaves in the middle passage, treated with the same violence, and if they escaped, they were captured and punished in the same way. In looking at the Latin America route specifically, the vast majority of ‘workers’ were coerced, kidnapped, or their families were threatened in order to get them on the ships. A second group of historians look at it from a legal point of view. The argument is that yes, they were treated just as bad as slaves, but in fact they represent a middle step from slavery to free labour. The argument is that even though they were treated like salves, they signed a contract, which in theory gave them rights, which more often than not were not adhered to, but they did have them. This contract in turn allowed them to leave after the 8 year contract terminated. So, it is teh transition from slave-to-indentured worker-to-free worker that these historians take up.

  9. I found this week’s reading very interesting as it shed some light on the unterrepresented issue of Asian migration to Latin America. I was pleased to learn more about the history of the vari-ous Asian diasporas in the Americas. In this regard, the text is very detailed which I found very revealing since it shows that the phenomenon of globalisation has already been relevant about four hundred years ago.
    But the text was not only instructive on this data-based level. I also appreciated that it gave some important insights on rather a meta-level: When the authors described the Asian in-fluence on Latin American traditions (p.11), that made me think of the fluidity of cultures. In current debates on terrorism and refugees it is often referred to a certain „Leitkultur“ and pe-ople in fear of rising migration state that the Islam and christianity, Arabic and European tradi-tions are contradictory and incompatible. In contrast with these positions, I think that the text by Hu-DeHart and López has nicely shown how culture is reconfigurated over and over again. Beliefs, customs and words that originally have a „migrant“ origin are integrated into the host country’s culture until their actual provenance is even forgotten. Culture does not exist in form of an unchangeable entitity but it is instead framed and developed over time. I am convinced that it is crucial to keep this point in mind when talking about migration.

  10. The Asian diaspora in South and Central America is a fascinating, though sometimes depressing topic. I found the historic perspective the authors took to be very enriching, as it also serves to analyse the changes in global (in)equalities and how the tables may turn over time (cf. Hu-DeHan/López 2008: 15).

    One aspect that I found particularly interesting is the “Asian presence in […] popular culture and everyday life” (Hu-DeHan/López 2008: 10) that the authors exemplify with the “china poblana” often referred to in Mexico. This led me to reflect upon the word “chino”, which is a Mexican expression to describe curly hair. I had always thought that these “chinas” that in fact turn up in many places in Mexican popular culture are called chinas because of their hair (which, in the case of the china poblana, is a mistake). For example, in the traditional music “Son Jarocho” which is played mainly in Veracruz, on the coast of the Golf of Mexico, but increasingly all over the country (and in Europe and the U.S.), “chinas” are mentioned very often; most of the time the term appears to be synonymous for a pretty girl or maiden. When trying to research a little about the origin of the word “chino” for curls, the explanation I found was that “china” is Quechuan for girl and that it was used by Spanish families for servants of the household (https://www.unioncancun.mx/articulo/2015/04/23/cultura/por-que-se-le-dice-chino-al-cabello-rizado) and later generalised, intersecting with colonial history to describe curly hair in general (which was, at that time, probably a dominant characteristic of servants with African ancestry). This explanation does not quite convince me and I could not find any linguistic research on the topic. But in any case, the word echoes colonial history and points to the intersecting histories that white supremacy created in the global South. Also, the word is used in many different contexts in Mexico and throughout its different regions, changing its meaning and historical context. For example, Veracruz (see above) also hosts the largest black communities in Mexico due to its history of sugar production. Here, the word probably developed quite differently than in Puebla, where the legend of the china poblana originated.

    Obviously, historical linguistic research is often problematic and in this case, I can only offer hypotheses and speculations. In any case, it becomes visible and palpable how different migratory movements initiated and enforced by colonial regimes have intersected in Latin America, shaping its culture and language until today. Moreover, I think one could analyse these cultural images like the “china poblana” with much more detail and think about how alterity (which is ultimately marked by the word “chino”) and appropriation (“mi china” can also be used as an expression of affection) engage with each other on the basis of language.

  11. When thinking about Latin America, usually three different ethnic groups came to my mind: Europeans, Africans, and indigenous. This week’s reading now focuses on Asian diasporas in Latin America, giving an historical overview.

    Ironically, when I read the text (in a bus) I overheard a conversation of two women of Indian descent who just got to know each other, and they talked about how their families are spread over the whole world, especially Surinam, which was also mentioned in the text. I think this was a great real-life example of how the situation is.

    I found it particularly interesting that the Asian presence in Latin America has been mostly marked in popular culture and everyday life, not in academia.

    The authors also mentioned that many of the Asian immigrants came to Latin America as contract laborers for plantations after the abolishment of slavery. I am also wondering in how far the conditions of unfree and free labor differed in this context.

    I also found it interesting how laws shape migration processes, for example when the United States enacted restrictive immigration laws that excluded Asians, which led to more migration to South America.

    As always, the situation of the Asian immigrants in Latin America reminds one of the African-American slaves in the U.S., in the way that they were also exploited for cheap labor but denied the right of citizenship.

    The authors also talk about the boundaries of defining “whiteness” and that the Chinese found themselves in a “permanent state of limbo regarding their racial categorization”. I am wondering what kind of psychological effects this had on Chinese immigrants.

  12. Last years travels took me to Brazil where I first came in contact with the large Japanese population, especially in Sao Paolo. Before that I have never been aware of the scale of Asian migration to South America because you don´t really hear about it in other parts of the world. Getting to know more about the background of trans-pacific migration made this text really interesting for me. Although the same push&pull-factors “as usual” are in place, it´s fascinating to put them in an South American context because I realized it also changed my view of these countries. Some of them had a highly prosperous past. Look at Argentinia and how it florished a century ago! It´s a prime example of a country of immigrants.

    I think it´s good and important that the text talked about racial discrimination because discrimination against Asians often seems to be overlooked since they don´t “fit into a box of black or white”.

    I once read about how the British sent Indian policemen to Kenya because they were used to the climate and India was colonized before Kenya. Reading this text reminded me of that, I´m not sure if anyone knows it but did something similiar happen in the Caribbean?
    And how did the US treat Asian immigrats in its dependencies like Puerto Rico and at that time Panama? Did they install concentration camps there as well?

  13. I have to agree with the majority of comments posted so far: the Afro-Asian intersections were truly fascinating. The timeline begins with a shared (though not equal, obviously, considering the great distinction between the status of a slave and the status of an oppressed yet free indentured labor) history of oppression and exploitation, goes through both mutual lack of trust and discrimination but also a shared struggle for liberation and alliances and culminates in the fight for Civil Rights supported by third-generation Asian-Americans.

    The shifting state of racial categorization and treatment of the Asian diaspora though illustrated by the extreme example of South Africa truly represents the attitude towards Asian diaspora that I’ve witnessed both in my homeland and here in Germany. My ethnically Chinese schoolmates, third generation migrants with Latin American names were still not categorized entirely as locals and referred to as “chinos”. They get better treatment than Afro-Salvadorans (who are not only overlooked in national discourse, but whose existence gets fervently denied by many mestizos and white Salvadorans) and the indigenous population – pipiles, izalcos and lencas – in many aspects. Mestizos that have pipil/lenca-looking physical traits are also referred to as “chinos” meant as a racial slur. Asian-American race relations are extremely complex and I’m very glad we got to read such a great introductory text with a historical perspective.

  14. The text was a good and short introduction in the Asian migration to Latin America but some questions came up while reading it.
    As in the text mentioned the migration did not only occur by new Asian migrants from Japan or China but also by already in the Americas living former migrants or by the second or even third generations of the these different groups. The interesting Question for me is, whether this way of behaving was related to the strict immigration laws in the countries of the Americas and to the fact that the immigration laws were also more or less a reaction to so-called “migration-waves”.
    Furthermore the debate in the United States was always related to the western idea of a “Yellow Peril” and therefore it was seen as dangerous for the western world itself – at least after the win of the Japanese in the Japanese-Russian-War of 1905. It would be very interesting to know if there existed something like this or even the same idea of a “peril” by the Asian people in Latin America.

  15. I agree with the comments above and the text about how little the issue of Asian immigration to Latin America has been discussed. As an Asian myself, I had not been aware of how extensive the immigration to Latin America has been by Asians throughout history, and I was surprised to read about the different reasons and contexts that drove such immigration during each period in history.

    Considering how well assimilated the group of Japanese settlers in Mexico in the 17th century was, it led me to wonder if Asian immigrants have traditionally assimilated well in Latin American societies, and the reasons for such a trend (e.g. whether it was due to the more accepting societies, or the positive perceptions that Latin Americans had of Asians). Despite highlighting the high levels of Asian immigration to Latin America, the author also does not discuss the reasons that led to the migration on such high levels, particularly the reason they chose to immigrate to Latin American countries.

    Interestingly, while it was not explicitly stated in the text, the treatment received by the Asian immigrants to Latin America were actually implemented and enforced by the white colonial masters in Latin America, instead of the indigenous people. Since the Asian immigrants were used by the white colonial masters with the intention of undercutting the wages of the native workers and forming a class between the whites, and the Africans and indigenous people (pp.16-17), I wonder how that impacted the relationship between the different groups, namely the Africans, the indigenous, and the Asian immigrants, and whether there were any efforts at integration between the different groups in society (in light of the racial riots that took place targeting specific racial and ethnic groups). In addition, have these racial tensions in society lasted till today?

    Personally, I found Zoe’s comment regarding the portrayal of Asians in Latin American society to be really interesting. Instead of portraying Asians as labourers or slaves, they are perceived differently from the African slaves. Does the difference in the depiction stem from the inherent discrimination and prejudice that the white colonial masters had over the Africans?

  16. As many of you already mentioned, I also found that the text provided a very usefull overview about the migration from Asia to Latin America trough history and time and I have not been aware about some things mentioned in the text.
    First, the text shows very well that migration is an old phenomen, altough because of the expansion of some countries and the oppression of others like colonialism for the most part.
    The part describing the Acapulco-Manila- Galleon trade was good to remember and I was, once again, suprised in a shocked way, the expansion, the numerous colonies, their explotation and the enormous, global reach of european colonialism- it is just crazy.

    Very insightfull was the fact about the indentured labour migration from Asia after slavery. I have heard off that point in a seminar about Religions in the Caribbean.
    The comments above discussing if the indentured work can be seen as something like a continued form of slavery seems interesting to me. I wouldn`t say it is like Slavery because, as was also said in a comment before, there is a difference between a not-free, enslaved, forced person and a, trough injust conditions, contracted but free labour migrant. But I do think that after slavery, e.g. in the Spanisch colonie in Cuba, there were continued similar structures as in tiems of slavery and of the strongest periods of colonialism to exploit the possibilites of the own power: cheap labour, keep up the own supremacy while putting asian immigrants as one piece in a low position in the hierarchy of “racial“ line, trading African Slaves with Asian immigrants and creating power relations and competition between the different ethnic groups of society to that time.

    Also interesting to me seemd the point about the struggles but as well as the solidarity between Asians and African- American in the context of the Civil Right Movement.
    Further the text made me think of an example of asian migrants in Caribeean, that came as indentured workers: In Trinidad for example exsits a large Indian community, that incorporated many elements of the religion Hindu and other cultural elements of India in their lifes in Trinidad.
    In general I think I don`t have a certain point of discussion this time, but rather do I process the given information in the text.

  17. The text gives an informative overview about asian migration to Latin America. In my opinion the comparison between african slaves and chinese coolies is very interesting and how race theories also effected the asian migrants. Of course it must have had a gread impact on asians in Latin America, too, but if you think of racist stuctures and post-colonialism in those regions they are not often in focus. The text gave me a new perspective there. I also liked the exposure of the development of chinese migration from then to now.

  18. The Text „Asian Diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Historical Overview“ by Hu- DeHart and López shed light upon an often forgotten part of Latin Americas history.

    Reading about chinese capital investments in this region i had to think about the huge construction project of the nicaragua canal which secures an infrastructure (aside of usa influenced Panamacanal) to export goods like for example Venezuelean oil. It feels like China was slowly taking over a vakuum which used to be occupied by the USA after Latin Amerikas policymaker and politics shifted left in the past centuries.

    New to me was that Japanese and Chinese migration started especially after the decline of slavery during the nineteenth century when cheap labour was needed. Since they were not seen as „desirable permanent political subjects“ i wonder how they are seen by the mayority of the population nowadays.

    The text gives a few examples how Asians get labelled as „chinos“ even though they are not related with China at all, like f.e. Alberto Fujimori, aswell as agriculture labor migration from China during the second half of the nineteenth century is also known as „la trata amarilla“. That made me realizing how much racism is actually happing on asian socities.

  19. It is, in fact, very rare to hear from Asian migration in Latin America. The very few times that Asian people are recalled in Latin American history they are instantly homogenized as “chinos”, so that oftentimes people are not really aware of the influence other Asian groups had upon South American culture. On the other hand, Asian immigration in South America cannot be viewed through the US American lens, because, as noted in the text, the US initiated this anti-Asian legislation and therefore, Asian American experience took place in a very different way. A similar thing happens when talking about African American’s history and experience in the US: It’s almost always told in binary terms. Although I can understand this, since European immigrants in US America made amazing efforts in order to preserve their “whiteness” and moreover, implemented the “one-drop-rule” as a legal tool only to determine who’s black in America and who’s not. Notwithstanding, it’s a very common rhetoric that of speaking about Latin America in terms of a ‘“races” blending process’, which might sound reasonable if we take the word “race” as a given existing thing, but that wouldn’t be practical for scientific purposes nor fear for a complete analysis of the comparative disadvantages suffered by African Americans throughout history: they weren’t indentured labor, but enslaved people. Still, it’s necessary to address this “other” people by a name, for instance as Asian people, different than that of a group historically described as “non-ones”: neither white nor black.

  20. Wow, what great texts. After the introduction, the recommended text was a very worth reading addition. Reading it, I always kept Zoes comment on the character of slavery at the back of my mind. Especially the first section about the history of Asian migration to Mexico and the process of being excluded from there is in its cruelity comparable. The fact that in the act of mass expulsions of Chinese men and their families, including even those born in Mexico, „Mexican officials literally pushed Chinese men and Mexican Chinese families through gaps in the international boundary fence.“ (Camacho 2009:56) is astounding, when we look at what is happening nowadays an the Mexican border.
    I have to repeat myself that the history of migration is a cruel one but as sad as this article began, it offers a glimpse o hope. And this is – might sound trivial and a bit too emotional now- love. There cannot be a better example of successful resistance to racist structures than the love stories in this article of Mexican women who fell for Chinese men. Although it was forbidden and penalized, these Mexican women met their beloved ones secretly and even followed them to the other side oft the world, when they were deported.
    This shows the strong power of interpersonal relationships and even if it might appear as a little step towards a more open society, the stories presented in this article show very well, how a single love story can influence family bonds in the future generations.

    Regarding Europe, Umberto Eco called this the „sexual revolution“, which due to better possibilities of travel involving romantic encounters will very naturally and of its own volition lead to more mutual understanding and tolerance (without predicting an European mestizaje).

  21. This week´s article was by far my favorite one. It reminded me of the long history of globalization and trade (sadly not only with material resources, but also people).
    I think that, already in the introduction, Hu- DeHart and López address one of the main injustices of the world: whose history is being told/ preserved? Who is writing it?
    As an example, we may consider the fact that while talking about revolutions, the French one will always be mentioned and iconized while the Haitian one seems to be forgotten. Luckily some historians and other social scientists try to research the “forgotten ones” and analyze history in terms of postcolonial perspectives.
    One of the aspects I liked the most about this study was the opportunity to reflect on the heritage of Asian migrants in my home country, Mexico (Liv already wrote about it). But also, to clearly see the fact, that structural economic aspects define the way the world is shaped (the need of recruiting new “cheap labor” leading to massive willing or unwilling migration).
    Another aspect I would like to know more about is the internal ruptures within a migrant group. It´s common sense to perceive that not all Japanese or Chinese or Germans or Mexicans constitute a homogenous group, but the specific nomenclature of the various Japanese generations led me to think that among the Japanese the ones that migrated or are being born abroad are not regarded as “true Japanese”. Do you guys have information about it?

  22. In this article, its authors Evelyn Hu-DeHart and Kathleen Lopez emphasize on the fact that the Asian racial-ethnic group was long forgotten in the narrative of Latin American and Caribbean history.
    This is in fact surprising since the presence of Asians In South America was already officially recorded in the beginning of the XVIIth century. Moreover, the Manila Galleon Trade, which joined the cities of Acapulco in Mexico and Manila in the Philippines, entailed at least one trip yearly from 1565 and 1815 between the two continents. The three main Asian diasporas, namely the Japanese, East Indian and Chinese ones, all have an ancient history of intertwining with the Latin American and Caribbean culture. For example, in 1613, 180 Christian Japanese arrived in Acapulco by the Manila galleon, with the aim of reaching Spain. Some of them stayed in Mexico and integrated successfully in the local society. Later, during the XIXth century, the trata amarilla or coolie-trade, involved Chinese workers who came to Cuba and Peru mainly in order to offer their working force to the agricultural sector.
    However, Hu-DeHart and Lopez’s thesis moves beyond the study of the Asian presence in the Americas or the Asian contributions to individual nations. In fact, they emphasize on the question of Asians’ complicate narratives about race relations and identity, family and migration. In fact, the Asian community in the Americas had to face racial oppression, and were segregated in the same way then “non-white” groups, such as the Blacks and indigenous.
    Till today, the Asian diaspora faces recurrent racism. I remember the huge demonstrations in September 2016 in Paris as a reaction to the murder of one of its members. The diaspora denounced the xenophobia they were facing in their everyday life and asked for more safety and protection.

  23. This text, which is very well written, was truly enlightening to me, since I had no idea about this side of the Asian immigration history. More specifically, I didn’t think the Asian immigration to America began so early. In Europe, and I guess in North America as well, we are only taught about the forced African and free European migration waves to the American continent. The only thing that is generally known about this topic is the treatment Americans of Japanese descent suffered during World War II, although students are not taught that this impacted many Japanese immigrants (Issei) in Latin America as well. This might explain your statement about the general belief that globalization already began to be a strong phenomenon in the 19-20th centuries.
    We also rarely hear about Afro-Asian descendants in America and how this double culture influences them. It was very interesting to learn that they had first endured oppression and discrimination before sharing the fight for Civil Rights. The authors also explore the tensions between the two communities as Asian immigrants were rejected and mistrusted because they were hired as cheap labour when slavery ended.
    I found this text extremely interesting, as Evelyn Hu-DeHart and Kathleen López inquire into the subject of Asian migration to North and South Americas, which was nearly new to me, in detail but wrote a very understandable and clear text. They show how this long-forgotten side of history shaped and still shapes the American continent and (but not only) the descendants of Asian immigrants.

  24. This text concerning migrations from Asia to Latin America focuses on a subject which is not being discussed in the media. The ongoing crisis with migrants and refugees from the Middle East is the focus of many recent studies. It is also mentioned on a daily basis in the programmes of almost every news channel so we are constantly overwhelmed by various comments and recent developments. However, in reality few people are profoundly aware of the Asian migrants’ history and present.
    In the past Chinese migrants used to be perceived as ”cheap labor” and not “desirable permanent political subjects”, they were denied the so called “white status” and were faced with blatant discrimination. Nowadays something unthinkable before has happened and this is the fact that China, Korea and Japan are powers that invest huge capital in Latin America (although as mentioned in the text some patterns remain the same).
    To be completely honest, I shall admit that the subject was utterly unfamiliar to me. Some parts and aspects of the text really caught my interest and inspired me to do some more research on the topic

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