Migrating Fujianese

Ethnic, Family, and Gender Identities in an Early Modern Maritime World


Author: Guotong Li
With the Fujian coast at its center, this book reveals the intellectual, migratory and gendered relationships that tied Fijian to the Chinese imperial domain and to its overseas networks. This Fujian study also offers ways to analyze local histories of late imperial China from a more global perspective. Based on a wide range of sources, such as business contracts, legal documents, women’s writings, and folksongs, Migrating Fujianese elucidates China’s southeast coast and its migration patterns. Examining this multi-ethnic migrant community through the lens of ethnicity shows the complex operation of linked chain migration (overseas male emigration and overland family migration by the ethnic She people) and its impact on the gender relations and family strategies of the coastal people. The study argues that examination of Fujianese migration through the lenses of gender and ethnicity is crucial to understanding the relationship between the flow of people and the society nourishing that flow.

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Guotong Li, Ph.D. (2007), University of California, Davis, is Associate Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. She is the author of In Quest of Immortality: Women’s Education in Late Imperial China (2014, in Chinese).
Acknowledgements ix
List of Illustrations xi
Introduction 1
Part 1: Fujianese Coastal Society in the Context of Qing Rule
1 Lobbying at the Court: The Minxue (Fujian Learning) Network 19
2 Transforming Customs: Ethnicity and Gender in the Imperial Civilizing Project 40
3 Piracy Plots: Marine Predators in the Interregional Trade Network 53
Part 2: Great Families at Home and on the Road
4 Competing for Local Influence: Leading Families in Zhangpu County 79
5 Imagining the Empire: Fujian Guixiu (Genteel Ladies) at Home and on the Road 108
6 Sharing the Story: Imagination across Boundaries in the Lychee Mirror 131
Part 3: Overland and Overseas Migration
7 Survival Strategies: Gender, Ethnicity, and Kinship 155
8 Going Overseas: Remittances and Letters across the Ocean 177
Conclusion: Fujian in the Maritime World 198
Appendix: Fujian Guixiu Poems Cited in Chapter 5 207
Bibliography 211
Glossary 226
All interested in the history of late imperial China, and it reaches beyond area studies to engage with global studies of gender, ethnic and kinship networks as they apply to mobility and migration during the early modern period.