China and Inner Asia
What can historians of the Chinese in the Americas and Southeast Asia learn from each other? The historiographies of diverse "Chinese" peoples in these two world regions emerged from within distinct intellectual frameworks such as US and Latin American history, imperial history, Sinology, and Area Studies. As a consequence, they have developed largely independently of each other. To bridge this divide, and drawing inspiration from emerging fields such as Sinophone Studies and international and transnational history, this roundtable brings into conversation five scholars of Chinese migration and diaspora whose research encompasses the United States, Mexico, Malaya, the Philippines, and beyond. In addition to discussing the methodologies, sources, and themes that can help us connect regionalized Chinese historiographies, we will also consider how migration historians might contribute to contemporary debates about "Chineseness" in a global context.
To these ends, the discussants will first present briefly on their own research. Sandy Chang will explore how the migration of over a million Chinese women and girls to British Malaya at the turn of the 20th century reconfigured border control practices, transformed colonial households, and redefined "Chineseness." Fredy González will discuss differences between the Hongmen Chee Kung Tong in the Americas and other Triad brotherhoods in China and Southeast Asia. Madeline Hsu will examine how the ideologies, strategies, and institutions of immigration regulation and citizenship shaped the protocols and conventions of sovereignty in North America and Southeast Asia. Finally, drawing upon his first book, Diasporic Cold Warriors, Chien-Wen Kung will outline a comparative approach to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as an overseas Chinese institution.
Following these presentations, the discussants will comment on each other’s work and reflect on the continuities and reverberations between their scholarship and present-day concerns about anti-Chinese racism and Han nationalism in the shadow of the "rise of China" and the so-called "New Cold War."