ARI Talks: Albert Manke, “Chinese Migration to the Americas during an Era of Racial Exclusion: Secret Societies, Transpacific Networks, and Coping Strategies”, 20 September 2022

Stefan Huebner's picture
ANN: “Chinese Migration to the Americas during an Era of Racial Exclusion: Secret Societies, Transpacific Networks, and Coping Strategies”
ARI Talk by Dr. Albert Manke (Osnabrueck University, Germany)
The talk will take place through Zoom at the Asia Research Institute (ARI) of the National University of Singapore (NUS). For registration please see the following details:
20 September 2022
04:00pm - 05:00pm (SGT) = 10:00am - 11:00am (CEST) = 09.00am - 10.00am (BST) = 05.00pm - 6.00pm (JST) = 01:00am - 02.00am (PDT)
Online via Zoom
Migrants from the Asia-Pacific region have historically confronted various discriminatory and exclusionary practices in the Americas. In the nineteenth century, significant numbers of free or liberated Chinese migrants settled in the United States, British Columbia, Cuba, and Mexico, among others, and founded or joined ethnic-based associations, guilds, and societies. Members of these organizations benefited from mutual aid, protection, and certain socio-economic advantages in often hostile foreign societies. Two of the most prominent types of organization were the Chinese Benevolent Associations and the Chinese secret societies. While the former focused on the control of trans-pacific trade and regional businesses, the latter became involved in illegal ventures as a means of controlling parts of the informal economy. These secret societies in the Americas trace their origins to Southern Chinese Hongmen societies, later known as triads, and functioned as sworn brotherhood associations or fraternal collectives, typically by offering those lacking access to upper class associations collective protection and support. Deeply entrenched in traditions of secrecy, personal loyalty and mutual dependence, several of these associations also contributed to the progress of the Chinese communities in the Americas and transcended national borders with their global networks. Based on recent archival research, this talk investigates some of these secret societies in the Americas during this period and explores to what extent their networks can be understood as a mechanism to cope with exclusion and discrimination.