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Indian and Chinese Immigrant Communities

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An interdisciplinary comparative study of two of the most significant diaspora communities in Asia.


With the Asian economic upsurge in the recent decades, diasporas have emerged as significant agencies of the cultural diplomacy of respective nation states. Two of the most significant diasporic communities, the Indians and the Chinese, have long histories of migration to different corners of the world with considerable visibilities in different geo-political demographies. They have created many different local sites of interaction between themselves and with the host communities, particularly in Southeast Asia. The emerging concepts of ‘knowledge economy’, ‘global capitalism’, new trends of entrepreneurship, and a gradual shift of the economic power to the East has brought about a revision of relationships between homeland, diasporas and the different host nation-states.


This interdisciplinary collection of essays offers a window onto the overseas Indian and Chinese communities in Asia. Contributors discuss the interactive role of the cultural and religious ‘other’, the diasporic absorption of local beliefs and customs, and the practical business networks and operational mechanisms unique to these communities.


Growing out of an international workshop organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore and the Centre of Asian Studies at the University of Hong Kong, this volume explores material, cultural and imaginative features of the immigrant communities and brings together these two important communities within a comparative framework, and offers an example for further cross-disciplinary comparative study of this type.


Foreword (Wang Gungwu); Acknowledgements; Introduction (Jayati Bhattacharya and Coonoor Kripalani); 1. Blackbirders Refitted? The Journeys of Capitalists and Labourers in the Indian Ocean, 1830s–1930s (Sugata Bose); 2. Connecting Diaspora Histories: Indians and Chinese in Colonial Malaya (Sunil S. Amrith); 3. Chinese and Indian Diaspora: Some Common and Not-So-Common Cultural Processes (Tan Chee-Beng); 4. China’s Nationality Laws and the Chinese Overseas (Leo Suryadinata); 5. Comparison of Home Remittance System between India and Chinese Migrants in Southeast Asia: Ninteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Hamashita Takeshi); 6. Identity, Transnationalism and Corporate Development: Chinese Business in Malaysia (Edmund Terence Gomez); 7. Beyond the Glitterati: The Indian and Chinese Jewellers of Little India, Singapore (Jayati Bhattacharya); 8. Indian and Chinese Communities in Contemporary Burma: A Comparative Analysis of Their Presence and Influence (Renaud Egreteau); 9. Expressions of Faith in Hindu Processional Festivals: Case Studies from Singapore and Malaysia (Gauri Parimoo Krishnan); 10. Beyond Boundaries? Hindu Spaces in Chinatowns of Kolkata and Singapore (Jayani Bonnerjee); 11. Law and Its Impact on Diasporic Philanthropic Institutions: The Practices of Sinchew and the Waqf in the Straits Settlements (Stephanie Chung Po-yin); 12. Indian Soldiers and Policemen in China in the Colonial Period (Madhavi Thampi); 13. New Indian Migrants in Guangzhou and Its Vicinity (Jia Haitao); 14. Who Is a Chinese-Indian? Search for the Cultural Identity of the Chinese-Indians in Kolkata, Sihui and Toronto (Zhang Xing); 14. Overseas Indian and Chinese Communities in Film: Defining Identities through Popular Hindi Film and Transnational Chinese Films, 1990s Onwards (Coonoor Kripalani); 15. The “Other” NRIs: The Case of Low-Wage Indian Migrants in the Gulf (Laavanya Kathiravelu); Postscript. Shifting Worlds and Changing Identities: The Reshaping of the Chinese-Indian Communities in India after the 1962 “Sino-Indian Incident” (Kwai Yun Li); Contributors; Index

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Published 01 March 2015
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EAN13 9781783084470
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Indian and Chinese Immigrant Communities
ANTHEM-ISEAS INDIA-CHINA STUDIES
Anthem-ISEAS India-China Studiesseeks to promote the field of Sino-Indian studies. This area of research includes ancient and contemporary interaction/dialogue between India and China, the c omparative analysis of Indian and Chinese societies, and Indian and Chinese perce ptions of and writings about each other. The series is a collaboration between Anthem Press and the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at the Institute of Southe ast Asian Studies, Singapore.
Series Editor Tansen Sen – City University of New York, USA
Editorial Board Jinhua Chen – University of British Columbia, Canad a Prasenjit Duara – National University of Singapore, Singapore Toru Funayama – Kyoto University, Japan Ashok Gurung – India China Institute, The New Schoo l, USA Huang Jing – Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore Victor H. Mair – University of Pennsylvania, USA Mohan Malik – Asia-Pacific Center for Security Stud ies, USA C. Raja Mohan – Observer Research Foundation, India C. V. Ranganathan – Former Indian Ambassador to China N. C. Sen – Former Foreign Expert, Foreign Language s Bureau, China Peter van der Veer – Max Planck Institute for the S tudy of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany Bangwei Wang – Centre for India Studies, Peking University, China Anand Yang – University of Washington, USA
The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) wa s established as an autonomous organization in 1968. It is a regional c entre dedicated to the study of socio-political, security and economic trends an d developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic enviro nment. The Institute’s research programmes are the Regional Economic Studi es (RES, including ASEAN and APEC), Regional Strategic and Political S tudies (RSPS), and Regional Social and Cultural Studies (RSCS).
ISEAS Publishing, an established academic press, ha s issued more than 2,000 books and journals. It is the largest scholarly pub lisher of research about Southeast Asia from within the region. ISEAS Publis hing works with many other academic and trade publishers and distributors to d isseminate important research and analyses from and about Southeast Asia to the rest of the world.
Indian and Chinese Immigrant Communities
CompaRative PeRspectives
Edited by Jayati BhattachaRya and CoonooR KRipalani
Anthem Press An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2015 by ANTHEM PRESS 75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK and 244 Madison Ave #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
A copublication with ISEAS Publishing Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace Pasir Panjang Singapore 119614 publish@iseas.edu.sg bookshop.iseas.edu.sg
© 2015 Jayati Bhattacharya and Coonoor Kripalani editorial matter and selection; individual chapters © individual contributors
The moral right of the authors has been asserted.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Indian and Chinese immigrant communities : comparative perspectives / edited by Jayati Bhattacharya and Coonoor Kripalani. pages cm – (Anthem-ISEAS India-China studies) “A copublication with ISEAS Publishing.” Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-78308-362-6 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. East Indian diaspora. 2. Chinese diaspora. 3. Human geography–Asia. 4. Asia– Ethnic relations. I. Bhattacharya, Jayati, editor. II. Kripalani, Coonoor, editor. III. Bose, Sugata, 1956–. Blackbirders refitted Container of (work): DS432.5.I444 2015 305.8914’11–dc23 2014046608
ISBN-13: 978 1 78308 362 6 (Hbk)
SBN-10: 1 78308 362 X (Hbk)
Cover image: Toa55 / Shutterstock.com
This title is also available as an ebook.
Foreword Wang Gungwu
Acknowledgements
CONTENTS
Introduction Jayati Bhattacharya and Coonoor Kripalani
Section I. Historical Antecedents and the Question of Nationality 1. Blackbirders Refitted? The Journeys of Capitalis ts and Labourers in the Indian Ocean, 1830s–1930s Sugata Bose
2.
3.
Connecting Diaspora Histories: Indians and Chine se in Colonial Malaya Sunil S. Amrith
Chinese and Indian Diaspora: Some Common and Not -So-Common Cultural Processes Tan Chee-Beng
Section II. The Meeting Ground: Indians and Chinese in Southeast Asia 4. China’s Nationality Laws and the Chinese Oversea s Leo Suryadinata
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
A Comparison of the Home Remittance Systems of I ndian and Chinese Migrants in Southeast Asia: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Hamashita Takeshi
Identity, Transnationalism and Corporate Develop ment: Chinese Business in Malaysia Edmund Terence Gomez
Beyond the Glitterati: The Indian and Chinese Je wellers of Little India, Singapore Jayati Bhattacharya
Indian and Chinese Communities in Contemporary B urma: A Comparative Analysis of Their Presence and Influenc e Renaud Egreteau
Expressions of Faith in Hindu Processional Festi vals: Case Studies from Singapore and Malaysia Gauri Parimoo Krishnan
Beyond Boundaries? Hindu Spaces in the Chinatow ns of Kolkata and Singapore Jayani Bonnerjee
Section III. Indians in China and Chinese in India 11. Law and Its Impact on Diasporic Philanthropic I nstitutions: The Practices ofSinchewand theWaqfin the Straits Settlements Stephanie Chung Po-yin
12.
13.
14.
Indian Soldiers and Policemen in China in the C olonial Period Madhavi Thampi
New Indian Migrants in Guangzhou and Its Vicini ty Jia Haitao
Who Is a Chinese-Indian? Search for the Cultura l Identity of the Chinese-Indians in Kolkata, Sihui and Toronto Zhang Xing
Section IV. Across the Globe: Indian and Chinese Di asporas 15. Overseas Indian and Chinese Communities in Film : Defining Identities through Popular Hindi Film and Transnational Chines e and Indian Films, 1990s Onwards Coonoor Kripalani
16.
The “Other” NRIs: The Case of Low-Wage Indian M igrants in the Gulf Laavanya Kathiravelu
Postscript Shifting Worlds and Changing Identities: The Reshap ing of the Chinese-Indian Communities in India after the 1962 “Sino-In dian Incident” Kwai Yun Li
List of Contributors
Index
FOREWORD
From victims of “a new system of slavery” to valued non-residents, from sojourning abroad to eventual settlement and politi cal integration, the images of generations of Indians and Chinese moving out of th eir homes flash across the pages of this volume of essays. Whether the boatloa ds of poor coming out of British India and the independent India inherited b y the nationalists, or those contracted out of Imperial China and escaping a Chi na in chaos or at war, the rich variety of peoples described here make words l ike migrant and diaspora quite inadequate to encompass them. Thus the author s of the essays in this volume are not content to find labels for these peo ple, or pin down the correct terminology to describe what they have been through , but have dug deeply into a wide range of sources to explain the experiences that shaped the communities they established far away from home. Indian and Chinese merchants have been trading abro ad for centuries. Where the labour classes were concerned, however, i t was the Indians who got onto official records first. By the early nineteent h century, the British who controlled the Indian economy also had a global tra ding and plantation empire to fill with hard-working labour. They institutionaliz ed a system of contracts so that their enterprises could be assured of a dependable supply. In China, on the other hand, the Qing emperor pretended that good Ch inese stay at home to look after their parents and tend their tax-producing fi elds. Those who traded outside the country or sought work and adventure overseas w ithout explicit permission were outlaws or traitors hiding in foreign lands. I n their desire to seek work outside China, they had to depend on their kinfolk or put themselves at the mercy of unscrupulous recruiters. Until the end of the second half of the century, no mandarin wanted to know about the working condit ions of the Chinese communities in East and Southeast Asian ports and i n the new lands across the Pacific Ocean. Few cared that thousands of their Ch inese subjects were joining the Indians to do the work that African slaves were no longer available to do. Also, unlike the Indians, who were largely sent to the British tropical empire, the Chinese often had to confront more draconian discri mination policies in North America, Oceania, as well as in French, Dutch and S panish-speaking territories. As long as the British were still administering Ind ia, Indian labour was supplied along an officially approved trajectory of supply and growth. Independent India took time to review its policies towards non-resident Indians and gradually devised new contract systems to serve labour destinations close by, notably in the Middle East. In contrast, the su ccessive governments of republican China after 1911 found political value i n the overseas communities. In turn, the Chinese abroad often responded to politic al slogans with patriotic zeal. Both the Republic of China and the People’s Republi c of China maintained large offices in the country’s major cities to manage the family and locality bonds that official policies went out of the way to strengthen . The contrast between Indian and Chinese official attitudes towards their respec tive communities is striking. This volume provides a fascinating account of the c onsequences of differing official policies on communities around the world. Although this book is not the first to compare the two diasporic groups, this is the most probing and extensive set of studies avail able. Each of the essays advances our understanding of an aspect of the migr atory process that