Building a Nation, Effacing a Race: The "Chinaman" Question of the U.S. in the Philippines, 1898-1905

Lecture: Center for Southeast Asia Studies | November 13 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Richard Chu, Five College Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

 Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Filipino and Philippine Studies Working Group

August 1898. Intramuros, the last bastion and seat of the Spanish colonial outpost of the Philippines was finally captured by American forces. For the next months, the United States quickly set out to establish its control over its new possession even as Emilio Aguinaldo attempted to establish a new republic.

The lecture focuses on the first few years of American colonial rule in the Philippines. In particular, it looks into the “Chinaman” labor question facing the colonial rulers. How were the Chinese exclusion laws applied in the Philippines? How were the Chinese and other ethnic groups racialized to justify these laws in the Philippines? Utilizing hundreds of reports from Manila-based newspapers, government records, and traveler accounts, the talk will examine the “Chinaman” conundrum faced by the American colonizers and the strategies that the Chinese employed to go around the exclusionary laws, analyzing how race intersected with empire.

Richard Chu’s research focuses on the history of the Chinese and Chinese mestizos in the Philippines and in different Chinese diasporic communities in the world, centering on issues of ethnicity, gender, and nationalism. His publications include The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila: Family, Identity, and Culture 1860s-1930s (Brill, 2010) and Chinese Merchants of Binondo in the Nineteenth Century (University of Santo Tomas Press, 2010). He received his undergraduate degree from Ateneo de Manila University, an M.A. from Stanford University and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California., 510-642-3609