Chinese Canadians and First Nations: 150 Years of Shared Experience

Annotated Bibliography:

Canada | United States & Australia | Oral Histories | |Media & Fiction |


Carter, Erik.  Comparative racial formations: Chinese exclusion, assimilating Native Americans, and racial ideology in the United States.   PhD Dissertation.  Washington State University, 2006, 191 pages.   

In examining the history of Chinese Americans and American Indians from a racial formations perspective, Carter's dissertation examines racial discourse in the United States between the years 1812 and 1925.  In tracing the legal contexts leading up to the Chinese Exclusion, Carter compares anti-Chinese and anti-Indian racially based policies. By examining popular literature at the time and analyzing the "strategic racialism" in the writing of authors such as Edith Eaton (Sui Sin Far) and Pardee Lowe, Carter re-contextualizes the work of these authors against the backdrop of dominant white American racial formations.  

Liestman, Daniel.  "Horizontal Inter-ethnic Relations: Chinese and American Indians In the Nineteenth-Century American West."  The Western Historical Quarterly.  30 (August 1999): 327-349. 

This article weaves together a collection of accounts which indicate that although American Indians did initially view Chinese arrivals as interlopers or competitors, there was often a high degree of tension between the two groups.  Because Euro-American research interests were not focused on Chinese and American Indian interaction, historical records are often fragmentary and biased.   Although current social thought holds that group members will be more receptive of new groups if there is a high degree of perceived mutual similarity, Liestman's article reveals that tension did develop as these two groups came into contact.   

Australia & New Zealand

Choo, C.  The impact of Asian-Aboriginal Australian contacts in northern Australia.  Asian & Pacific Migration Journal , 1994 3 2-3 295-310.

The history of Asian contact with Australian Aborigines began with the early links made between seafarers, Makassan trepang gatherers and the Chinese, which occurred in northern Australia. Later contact through the pearling industry in the Northern Territory and in Kimberley, Western Australia involved Filipinos (Manilamen), Malays, Indonesians, Chinese and Japanese. Europeans on the coastal areas of northern Australia depended on the work of indentured Asians and local Aborigines for the development and success of these industries. However, the birth of the Australian Federation also marked the beginning of the "White Australia Policy' designed to keep non-Europeans from settling in Australia. The presence of Asians in the north had a significant impact on state legislation controlling Aborigines in Western Australia in the first half of the 20th century.  This legislation has also had an effect on the present with oral and archival evidence as testimony to the brutality with which this legislation was pursued and its impact on the lives of Aboriginal people. 

Ip, Manying. Being Maori Chinese: Mixed Identities. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2008.

Presenting the stories behind several generations of seven Maori-Chinese families , this account casts a fascinating new light on the historical and contemporary relations between Maori and Chinese in New Zealand. The two groups first came into contact in the late 19th century and often lived and interacted closely, leading to intermarriage and large families. By the 1930s, proximity and similarities had brought many Maori-Chinese families together, the majority of whom had to deal with cultural differences and discrimination. The growing political confidence of Maori since the 1970s and the more recent tensions around Asian immigration have put pressure on the relationship and the families’ dual identities. Today’s Maori-Chinese, reaffirming their multiple roots and cultural advantages, are playing increasingly important roles in New Zealand society. This account is oral history at its most compelling—an absorbing read for anyone interested in the complex yet rewarding topic of cultural interactions between indigenous and immigrant groups.

Ramsay, Guy.  "Myth, Moment and the Challenge of Identities: stories from Australians of Indigenous and Chinese ancestry."  Journal of Intercultural Studies, Volume 22, Issue 3 December 2001 , pages 263 - 278.

There has been a long history of contact between Indigenous and Chinese people in NortheasternAustralia, as evidenced by the significant presence of mixed-heritage individuals of Aboriginal and Chinese ancestry.  Ramsay examines the stories of ten such individuals.   In analyzing these individuals’ incorporation of 'otherculture' ancestries into their identity constructs, the article reveals how identities are narrated at the intersection of 'myth' and 'moment', and how challenge evokes transformation and discontinuity.   The interviews in this paper provide insight into the relationship between two marginalized and racialised communities in Australia: Indigenous and Chinese. Two clear portraits of communal interaction emerge from the data: one defined by mutuality, friendship and camaraderie between cultures bonded through marginality; and the other suggestive of discord and hegemonic rivalry. 

Ramsay, Guy.  "The Family and Cultural Identity in Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders of Chinese Ancestry: A Rural-Urban Divide."  Journal of Family Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 199-213, Oct 2000.

Not only do few empirical studies exist that assess the impact of family on the development of cultural identity in individuals of mixed cultural heritage, no studies exist involving individuals of dual-minority heritage and the rural Australian – particularly Aboriginal – experience. In this study, ethnographic interviews of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders with Chinese ancestry reveal the essential position of family in determining an individual's cultural identity, as measured by Reference Group Orientation (RGO).  In doing so, the study reveals that the differential impact of past and present governmental policies across the rural-urban divide has proven to be an obstacle to the formation of bicultural RGOs in mixed-heritage family members. 

Ramsay, Guy.  Cherbourg's Chinatown: creating an identity of place on an Australian Aboriginal settlement. Journal of Historical Geography; Jan2003, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p109-133. 

This is the story of an Aboriginal woman, Princy Carlo, and the identity of place that she and her descendants fashioned within the confines of the Aboriginal settlement of Cherbourg (formerly Barambah) during the early 20th century. The area of Cherbourg that came to be known as ‘Chinatown’ has, to date, attracted only cursory reference to the south-eastern Queensland Aboriginal settlement. Yet, hidden beneath a seemingly inconsequential historical detail lies a fascinating illustration of the negotiation of place identity within a frame of triangulated group relations (Aboriginal, Chinese, and White) in what remained a colonial society. Incorporating primary written sources and oral accounts from descendants, the study analyzes the forging of the Chinatown identity of place through a process of ‘spatial othering’, eliciting features unique to this indigenous identity-construct. The study provides an insight into Aboriginal connection and kinship with land following forced removal to a government settlement, and contributes to the historical records of the Cherbourg Aboriginal community and the Eidsvold district in Queensland, Australia. 
Sengmany, Som.  "Re-Configuring the Diasporic and Indigenous in the Art Of Zhou Xiaoping."  Journal of Intercultural Studies, Volume 27, Numbers 1-2, -02/February–May 2006 , pp. 29-44(16)

In examining Indigenous and diasporic identities in the contemporary visual arts in Australia, this essay focuses on collaborations between Chinese diasporic artist Zhou Xiaoping and Aboriginal artist Jimmy Pike.   In investigating how Zhou's art challenges the dominant black/white binary by opening up a range of new questions about the aesthetics, politics and ethics of cross-cultural representations of Aboriginality, the cross-interactions between Chinese diasporic and Aboriginal identities in the contemporary visual arts create a platform for cultural exchange.  In particular, Sengmany analyzes Zhou and Pike's joint exhibition Through the Eyes of Two Cultures (1999) as one example of how the contested intersection between Chinese diasporic and Aboriginal identities can be mediated by a cross-cultural politics of representation.