History in the Making

Document Type



This paper examines the Chinese community’s significant cultural and economic contributions in early twentieth-century Mexico and its impact on the ever-evolving term “mestizo.” After years of growing financial success in northern Mexico, Mexicans grew resentful of the Chinese community not only for harnessing wealth in their country, but for intermarrying with Mexicans and raising children, Chinese Mexicans, who were seen as illegitimate. The Chinese community later became the target of an oppressive anti-Chinese campaign that resulted in their expulsion from the country. At the crux of the campaign was the general disapproval of the matrimonial unions between Chinese men and Mexican women, which stems from the resentment at the financial success within the Chinese community, which was perceived by Mexicans as subhuman, much like the indigenous population. In the aftermath of the expulsion from Mexico, and later, repatriation, Chinese Mexicans were left to grapple with the pressure to embrace one side of their identity and erase the other to appease their families and society, never being regarded as “mestizos”. Providing daunting accounts of violence against the Chinese community and fascinating testimonials from Chinese Mexicans, this paper attempts to bring awareness to this community’s struggles and triumphs in early modern Mexico and acknowledges that the Chinese Mexicans’ claim to the notion “mestizo” is a legitimate and merited one.