This scholarly book manuscript project examines the translocal history of Chinese migration and settlement in Peru during an era of expanding industrial capitalism, settler colonialism and nation making. Moving across the Pacific at a moment when migrants and elites in Asia and the Americas imagined settler colonialism modeled on Anglo-Saxon practices as a force of progress, Chinese ventured across the Pacific to the Americas in pursuit of new opportunities. Intimate Others explores the diasporic world Cantonese migrants made by examining the translocal practices and imaginaries of belonging between native place, nation and world forged by two generations of Cantonese Peruvian elites from the late-1800s to the Present.
Cantonese merchants with ties to transpacific commercial firms in Hong Kong moved to Peru in growing numbers from the 1880s to the 1920s, expanding Cantonese migrant networks into the northern coastal and interior frontier spaces of Peru. By maintaining translocal ties to their native places and to Chinese communities across the Pacific, they participated in the making of a broader Cantonese Pacific world and crafted modes of belonging situating themselves as cosmopolitan merchants, settler colonists and revolutionary nation makers who could help China and Peru overcome the underdevelopment imposed by Euro-American imperialism and colonialism.
Facing rising Yellow Peril fears and exclusion acts, a new generation of tusán (Peruvian born Chinese) intellectuals emerged during the 1920s to 1940s to transform the meanings of being Chinese in Peru. Embracing indigenismo, mestizaje and Latin American hemispheric politics alongside Chinese wartime patriotism, tusanes embraced new cultural, racial, gendered and spatial strategies for defining themselves as Peruvian Chinese. As World War II gave way to the Cold War, Cantonese merchant elites reconfigured native place networks towards Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as sites of national and native place belonging while their tusán offspring expanded their connections across the Americas, repositioning the Peruvian Chinese community within an Asia-Pacific-Americas “free world.”
In the contemporary era of expanding Asia-Latin America ties, Peruvian Chinese face new pressures to reconfigure their notions of being Chinese in relation to a rising Global China, giving way to a new set of creative efforts to redefine what it means to be Peruvian Chinese between native place, nation and world.
Interview: Institute for Advanced Study, Nantes (2019)
Talk: "From Compradors to Hacendados: Cantonese Merchants in Peru and the Expanding Settler Colonial Frontiers of the Cantonese Pacific", Cornell Contemporary China Lecture Initiative, Cornell University, February 2, 2021
Digital Humanities Project: "Picturing the World: Snapshots of a Cantonese Peruvian Ecumene, circa 1924" (2016)