Ambition and Identity: Chinese Merchant Elites in Colonial Manila, 1880–1916

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Hardback: $57.00 $3.00
ISBN-13: 9780824826505
Published: February 2004

Additional Information

320 pages | illus., maps
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  • About the Book
  • What binds overseas Chinese communities together? Traditionally scholars have stressed the interplay of external factors (discrimination, local hostility) and internal forces (shared language, native-place ties, family) to account for the cohesion and “Chineseness” of these overseas groups. Andrew Wilson challenges this Manichean explanation of identity by introducing a third factor: the ambitions of the Chinese merchant elite, which played an equal, if not greater, role in the formation of ethnic identity among the Chinese in colonial Manila.

    Drawing on Chinese, Spanish, and American sources and applying a broad range of historiographical approaches, this volume dissects the structures of authority and identity within Manila’s Chinese community over a period of dramatic socioeconomic change and political upheaval. It reveals the ways in which wealthy Chinese merchants dealt in not only goods and services, but also political influence and the movement of human talent from China to the Philippines. Their influence and status extended across the physical and political divide between China and the Philippines, from the villages of southern China to the streets of Manila, making them a truly transnational elite. Control of community institutions and especially migration networks accounts for the cohesiveness of Manila’s Chinese enclave, argues Wilson, and the most successful members of the elite self-consciously chose to identify themselves and their protégés as Chinese.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Andrew R. Wilson, Author