Recent scholarship on Chinese migration and diaspora has drawn increasing attention to the reciprocal influences of state, society, and population movement in the modernizing world (Chan 2018; Lew-Williams 2018; Young 2014; McKeown 2011). This panel builds on these conversations by assessing the evolving discourses and modes of Chinese migration governance during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Reevaluating the origins of Chinese mass migration to the Western world, Carl Kubler examines British experiments with Chinese indentured labor during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) and connects changing ideas about Chinese migration to the British East India Company's commercial practices in London, St. Helena, and South China in the early nineteenth century. Tracing the evolving relationship between Chinese migrants and the Qing state in the second half of the nineteenth century, Nicholas McGee investigates how late-Qing intellectuals and officials extended the state into migrants' lives and reconceptualized the diaspora as a resource to be mobilized for state-building. Turning to how Chinese migrations shaped the construction of a border-control regime in British Malaya, Sandy Chang examines the gendered dimensions of how the colonial state governed the bodies and identities of Chinese migrant women--through the issuance of passports, mediation of marital disputes, and regulation of prostitution--and hierarchized women on the basis of their sexuality and labor potential. All three papers show how Chinese migration management was a constantly moving target, responding to historically contingent factors at home and abroad, as state organs and migrants themselves reconceptualized their places in diaspora.
Paper Presenter: Carl E. Kubler – University of Chicago
Paper Presenter: Nicholas McGee – University of Toronto
Paper Presenter: Sandy F. Chang – University of Florida