Chinese Mexicans

Chinese Mexicans: Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland, 1910-1960

Julia María Schiavone Camacho
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 248
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Chinese Mexicans
    Book Description:

    At the turn of the twentieth century, a wave of Chinese men made their way to the northern Mexican border state of Sonora to work and live. The ties--and families--these Mexicans and Chinese created led to the formation of a new cultural identity: Chinese Mexican. During the tumult of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, however, anti-Chinese sentiment ultimately led to mass expulsion of these people. Julia Maria Schiavone Camacho follows the community through the mid-twentieth century, across borders and oceans, to show how they fought for their place as Mexicans, both in Mexico and abroad.Tracing transnational geography, Schiavone Camacho explores how these men and women developed a strong sense of Mexican national identity while living abroad--in the United States, briefly, and then in southeast Asia where they created a hybrid community and taught their children about the Mexican homeland. Schiavone Camacho also addresses how Mexican women challenged their legal status after being stripped of Mexican citizenship because they married Chinese men. After repatriation in the 1930s-1960s, Chinese Mexican men and women, who had left Mexico with strong regional identities, now claimed national cultural belonging and Mexican identity in ways they had not before.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0178-6
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
  3. Note on Names and Terms
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    “Mexico delights me. Navojoa delights me,” said Alfonso Wong Campoy, the eldest son of a Chinese father and a Mexican mother, with a warm smile. As I sat in his living room in Navojoa, Sonora, in 2004, he described the hardship and tragedy as well as the joy that characterized his family’s experiences. Local hatred for his mixed-race family drove the Wong Campoys out of northern Mexico in 1933, when Alfonso was four years old. Nearly thirty years would pass before he saw Navojoa and Mexico again. He would ultimately resettle in the same town from which regional authorities expelled...


    • CHAPTER ONE Creating Chinese-Mexican Ties and Families in Sonora, 1910s–Early 1930s
      (pp. 21-38)

      This story begins in southeastern China in the mid-nineteenth century, when Chinese men increasingly departed their villages and towns and formed diasporic overseas communities around the world, becominghuaqiao, “Chinese sojourners.”¹ Among the emigrants from Guangdong Province several decades later was Wong Fang, Alfonso Wong Campoy’s father. Around the turn of the twentieth century, when he was a very young man, Wong Fang traveled to San Francisco with his uncle, who became a businessman there. Wong Fang continued his journey to Sonora and settled in Pueblo Viejo, a community adjacent to the small town of Navojoa, a semitropical area in...

    • CHAPTER TWO Chinos, Antichinistas, Chineras, and Chineros The Anti-Chinese Movement in Sonora and Chinese Mexican Responses, 1910s–Early 1930s
      (pp. 39-62)

      In 1917, Juan R. Mexía wrote to José María Arana, the founder of the first organized anti-Chinese campaign in Sonora and, by extension, in Mexico to urge the leader of the movement to visit Mexía’s unnamed community. Mexía had heard Arana speak in Nogales, Sonora, and believed that one of his speeches would be advantageous in Mexía’s town, where “contented Asians are united by indissoluble bonds of friendship and caring with some Mexicans who have forgotten their true roles.”¹ He hoped that Arana’s charismatic anti-Chinese rhetoric would inspire local Chinese-friendly Mexicans, whom anti-Chinese crusaders derided aschinerasandchineros(Chinese-loving...


    • CHAPTER THREE The Expulsion of Chinese Men and Chinese Mexican Families from Sonora and Sinaloa, Early 1930s
      (pp. 65-80)

      In 1926, Francisco Martínez wrote to President Plutarco Elías Calles from Nogales, Arizona, attaching a newspaper article, “Mexicans Will Be Kicked Out of California.” The piece reported that 75 percent of Mexicans in California had entered the United States illegally and that a campaign to return them to Mexico was to begin immediately. Although the United States would not conduct a massive deportation of Mexicans until the depression years, California undertook smaller deportation campaigns during this time. Drawing on this anti-Mexican backlash to call for the expulsion of Chinese from Mexico, Martínez wrote, “If the Americans can do this to...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The U.S. Deportation of “Chinese Refugees from Mexico,” Early 1930s
      (pp. 81-102)

      After narrowly escaping hatefulantichinistatormenters who had driven him to run away and climb a roof, from which he fell, aggravating a heart condition, Alfonso Wong Fang knew that he and his family could no longer remain in Sonora as before. They had stayed well into the expulsion period, but in early 1933, the Wong Campoys—Alfonso; his wife, Dolores Campoy Wong; and the couple’s children, Alfonso Wong Campoy, María del Carmen Irma Wong Campoy, and Héctor Manuel Wong Campoy—headed north, crossing the border illegally into the United States. The oldest child was only four years old, while...


    • CHAPTER FIVE The Women Are Neither Chinese nor Mexican: Citizenship and Family Ruptures in Guangdong Province, Early 1930s
      (pp. 105-121)

      Rosa Murillo de Chan arrived in Guangdong Province in southeastern China with her husband, Felipe Chan, and their children in 1930. Even though the mass eviction of Chinese had not yet begun, growing anti-Chinese activity in Sinaloa had been a factor in the family’s departure. Once in China, Murillo de Chan discovered that her husband had another wife, although he had told her otherwise in Mexico. It shocked and appalled her to live next door to the Chinese wife, whose side she perceived her in-laws had taken. She had hoped that her sons would receive a good education in China...

    • CHAPTER SIX Mexico in the 1930s and Chinese Mexican Repatriation under Lázaro Cárdenas
      (pp. 122-134)

      Complex and contradictory currents ran through Mexico during the 1930s. On the one hand, individual states expelled Chinese while national leaders tacitly supported these efforts or turned a blind eye. On the other hand, the federal government—with the goal of making Mexico visible in the global political arena—officially supported China and condemned Japanese aggression early in the decade. When Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–40) came to power, the anti-Chinese campaigns began to lose momentum. To repudiate the movement’s expulsions of Mexican citizens, his administration ultimately sponsored the first official repatriation of Mexican women and Chinese Mexican children when war...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN We Want to Be in Mexico: Imagining the Nation, Performing Mexicanness, 1930s–Early 1960s
      (pp. 135-152)

      On 12 May 1960, the Chinese Mexican community leader in Macau, Ramón Lay Mazo, wrote to a prominent Mexican widow, Concepción Rodríguez Viuda de Aragón, in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Seeking her continued support for the Chinese Mexican repatriation cause, he conveyed the deep, devoted love Mexican women living in China felt for their nation—Mexico. When he asked Mexican women in China whether they wanted to move to other countries, they replied, “Not even if they gave me a palace there, I prefer Mexico, even if I have to live under a mesquite.” Disheartened by the Mexican government’s disregard for...


    • CHAPTER EIGHT To Make the Nation Greater Claiming a Place in Mexico in the Postwar Era
      (pp. 155-173)

      On 7 December 1960, Dolores Campoy Wong wrote to Mexican president Adolfo López Mateos from the small southern town of Navojoa in the northern border state of Sonora. She and her sons—Alfonso Wong Campoy, age thirty-two; Héctor Manuel Wong Campoy, twenty-seven; and Antonio René Wong Campoy, twenty-six—had repatriated to Mexico from Macau the preceding month. Urging the government to help them secure employment or offer the family economic assistance, she told López Mateos that her sons had been unable to find jobs even though Mexican officials had promised the family aid upon their repatriation. The Wong Campoys had...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 174-178)

    I first traveled to Sonora, where my mother was born and our extended family still resides, when I was six months old. Throughout my childhood, my mother and grandparents took my siblings and me to visit multiple times each year—for weddings, funerals, summer vacation, Semana Santa (Easter Week), and other occasions. Many times we stopped at Jo Wah, Fernando Ma’s Chinese restaurant in Hermosillo, the halfway point between Tucson and our destinations of Ciudad Obregón and Navojoa. I remember my grandfather enjoying visits with friends at the restaurant. We also ate at other Chinese restaurants and shopped at Chinese...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 179-202)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-218)
  13. Index
    (pp. 219-226)