Abstract

Abstract:

The Qing emperor Qianlong's supposed response to the 1740 massacre of roughly 8,000 Chinese civilians in Dutch Batavia represents perhaps the most famous quotation by any Chinese emperor concerning the diaspora. Tracing a genealogy of the quote, this article contends that it was in fact invented and deployed by eighteenth and nineteenth century British authors in service of a discourse that framed Chinese migrants as ideal potential colonial recruits and the Qing state as secretly desiring their recruitment. Only in the twentieth century was it taken up by Chinese authors, who mourned the Qing's failure to capitalize on this colonial potential in their efforts to construct a diaspora-centered national identity. Legacies of this translingual discourse endure, especially in the narrative that the Qing state forbade its subjects from going overseas, and disowned those who did so, until forced to allow Chinese indentured labor recruitment following the Second Opium War (1856–1860).

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8050
Print ISSN
1045-6007
Pages
pp. 591-619
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-30
Open Access
No
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