“I’d kill a Chinaman as quick as I would an Indian and I’d kill an Indian as quick as I would a dog.” This chilling remark, recorded in a police report, was made in 1884 by a man who had taken part in the lynching of Louie Sam, a fourteen-year old indigenous boy from the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. He had been waiting to be tried for murder in New Westminster when he was kidnapped by an American mob, taken across the border and lynched, presumably because the alleged murder had taken place in Nooksack, Washington. It later transpired that two members of the lynch mob were likely responsible for the murder.
Timor-Leste has been just about the most geographically and politically remote corner of East Asia, a distant second to Macau in Portugal’s one-time East Asian possessions, diminutive compared to the Dutch East Indies and later Indonesia. And the Chinese community there, as far as the Chinese diaspora goes, one of the less substantial. Perhaps for those reasons, the development of Cina Timor—the Timorese Chinese—offers a case study in intra-Asian immigration and identity.
The refugee is conventionally considered a powerless figure, eagerly cast aside by both migrant and host communities. In his book, The Refugee Aesthetic, Timothy August investigates how and why a number of Southeast Asian American artists and writers have recently embraced the figure of the refugee as a particularly transformative position.
In Graphic Migrations: Precarity and Gender in India and the Diaspora, Kavita Daiya provides a literary and cultural archive of refugee stories and experiences to respond to the question “What is created?” after decolonization and the 1947 Partition of India.
The country is made up almost entirely of immigrants, yet the United States goes through decades-long bouts of antipathy toward them. Journalist Jia Lynn Yang’s family emigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 1976; it wasn’t until much later that she learned her family had benefited from a US policy only a decade old when her parents applied for visas. Interested in the change in policy, she set out to research US immigration law during the period when it was restricted the most. Her new book, One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924-1965, tells the fascinating story of how these immigration restrictions came to be and why they were relaxed after four decades.
Raj Bhatt is a professor of anthropology at a university in California and father of two young sons. Raj’s wife, Eva, grew up in the town where they live and had been a member of an exclusive members’ only tennis club as a child. So when Raj and Eva marry, they naturally join the Tennis Club, or TC, as Raj calls it, which has, unsurprisingly, a mostly white clientele.
As anti-Chinese prejudice rears its ugly head in the United States, more palpably and consequentially than it has in living memory, it is worth remembering that Chinese have been in America for generations. C Pam Zhang’s debut novel of Chinese immigrants who came for the railroads and the gold rush, How Much of These Hills is Gold, is a haunting tale of family, home, and belonging.