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Chinese Mexicans

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

Julia Maria Schiavone Camacho

Publication Year: 2012

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 during 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 María 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.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vi-viii

Note on Names and Terms

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

Many people in the United States, Mexico, Macau, and Hong Kong have helped make this project possible. I am especially indebted to the Chinese Mexicans who kindly shared their stories with me: Gabriela Strand Bruce, Alfonso Wong Campoy, María de Los Angeles Leyva Cervón, Sergio Chin-Ley, ...

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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. ...

Part I: Chinese Settlement in Northwestern Mexico and Local Responses

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1. Creating Chinese-Mexican Ties and Families in Sonora, 1910s–early 1930s

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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, becoming huaqiao, “Chinese sojourners.”1 Among the emigrants from Guangdong Province several decades later was Wong Fang, ...

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2. Chinos, Antichinistas, Chineras, and Chineros: The Anti-Chinese Movement in Sonora and Chinese Mexican Responses, 1910s–early 1930s

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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 ...

Part II: Chinese Removal

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3. The Expulsion of Chinese Men and Chinese Mexican Families from Sonora and Sinaloa, Early 1930s

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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. ...

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4. The U.S. Deportation of “Chinese Refugees from Mexico,” Early 1930s

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pp. 81-102

After narrowly escaping hateful antichinista tormenters 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, ...

Part III: Chinese Mexican Community Formation and Reinventing Mexican Citizenship Abroad

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5. The Women Are Neither Chinese nor Mexican: Citizenship and Family Ruptures in Guangdong Province, Early 1930s

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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. ...

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6. Mexico in the 1930s and Chinese Mexican Repatriation under Lázaro Cárdenas

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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 ...

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7. We Want to Be in Mexico: Imagining the Nation, Performing Mexicanness, 1930s–Early 1960s

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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 ...

Part IV: Finding the Way Back to the Homeland

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8. To Make the Nation Greater: Claiming a Place in Mexico in the Postwar Era

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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; ...

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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. ...


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pp. 179-202


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pp. 203-218


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pp. 219-226

E-ISBN-13: 9781469601786
E-ISBN-10: 1469601788
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835401
Print-ISBN-10: 0807835404

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012