Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila

Family, Identity, and Culture, 1860s-1930s


For centuries, the Chinese have been intermarrying with inhabitants of the Philippines, resulting in a creolized community of Chinese mestizos under the Spanish colonial regime. In contemporary Philippine society, the “Chinese” are seen as a racialized “Other” while descendants from early Chinese-Filipino intermarriages as “Filipino.” Previous scholarship attributes this development to the identification of Chinese mestizos with the equally “Hispanicized” and “Catholic” indios. Building on works in Chinese transnationalism and cultural anthropology, this book examines the everyday practices of Chinese merchant families in Manila from the 1860s to the 1930s. The result is a fascinating study of how families and individuals creatively negotiate their identities in ways that challenge our understanding of the genesis of ethnic identities in the Philippines.

“…[This book] helps contribute to the revision of the existing literature on the Chinese and Chinese mestizos with a new perspective that highlights the emerging field of transnational studies.” - Prof. Augusto Espiritu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“…the author does an outstanding job and we recommend that citizens of the Philippine ‘nation,’ whether they see themselves as ‘Chinese’ or ‘Filipino’ would do well to read this work and understand the origins of the racial stereotypes that influence the way they look at particular members of Philippine society, particularly in Manila.” - Prof. Ellen Palanca and Prof. Clark Alejandrino, Ateneo de Manila University

" ambitious study of the Chinese and first-generation Chinese mestizos of Manila...[the author] has added valuable research materials from Philippine and American archival collections and...a wide range of published primary sources...The book is meticulously annotated and rich in descriptive detail..." - Michael Cullinane, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Richard T. Chu, Ph.D. (2003) in History, University of Southern California, is Five College Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has published several articles on the Chinese in the Philippines, including those that appear in Philippine Studies and Positions (forthcoming).
"[Chu] succeeds in showing a wide variety of ways in which the Chinese and Chinese mestizo merchants and their families pursued social and economic strategies that reflect the transnational and multicultural resources available to them...[Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila] is both a detailed compendium of well-documented and carefully analyzed case studies and a model for anyone just beginning empirical research on local cases...It is a weighty volume and a welcome one."
– Jerry Dennerline, Amherst College, in China Review International18.1 (2011).

"This book is an important study, unprecedented in the study of the Chinese and Chinese mestizos of Manila on several counts...This is a significant contribution to the literature on the Chinese and the Chinese mestizos in the Philippines."
–Bernardita Reyes Churchill, in The Journal of History LVII (January-December 2011).

"Chinese and Chinese Mestizos seeks to understand the process by which hitherto fluid 'Chinese' and 'Filipino' ethnic identities became mutually exclusive as boundaries between them hardened in the Philippines, but eschews the assimilation-vs-integration debate and other 'nation- state metanarratives' that have colluded in the 'reification and essentialization' of ethnic identities.[...] [Chinese and Chinese Mestizos] adopts a microhistorical approach that [...] offers nuanced case studies that demonstrate the 'variegated and constantly changing meanings of identities...'"
– Caroline S. Hau, CSEAS, 東南アジア研究49 巻3 号
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List of Abbreviations

Introduction To be a “Filipino” and “Chinese” in the Philippines
Chapter 1 The Minnan Region of Fujian: History and Society
Chapter 2 The Chinese in Late Spanish Colonial Manila: An Overview
Chapter 3 The Chinese Merchants in Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Manila: Precursors of Modern Chinese Transnationalism in the Philippines
Chapter 4 Catholic Conversion and Marriage Practices among Chinese Merchants
Chapter 5 Family Life and Culture in Chinese Merchant Families
Chapter 6 Rethinking the Chinese Mestizos and Mestizas of Manila
Chapter 7 Early American Colonial Rule in the Philippines and the Construction of “Filipino” and “Chinese” Identities
Chapter 8 Chinese Merchant Families: Family, Identity, and Culture in the Early Twentieth Century
Chapter 9 Negotiating Identities within Chinese Merchant Families: To be “Filipino” or to be “Chinese”

Glossary of Chinese Characters
All those interested in the Chinese diaspora, ethnic studies, Philippine studies, Asian Studies and Asian American Studies, and in themes of class, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, family, and nationalism.
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