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352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones, 3 maps, 7 tables, notes, bibl., index

Envisioning Cuba

ISBN  978-1-4696-0713-9
Published: June 2013

Chinese Cubans

A Transnational History

Kathleen López

Awards & Distinctions

2014 Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Prize, Caribbean Studies Association

In the mid-nineteenth century, Cuba's infamous "coolie" trade brought well over 100,000 Chinese indentured laborers to its shores. Though subjected to abominable conditions, they were followed during subsequent decades by smaller numbers of merchants, craftsmen, and free migrants searching for better lives far from home. In a comprehensive, vibrant history that draws deeply on Chinese- and Spanish-language sources in both China and Cuba, Kathleen López explores the transition of the Chinese from indentured to free migrants, the formation of transnational communities, and the eventual incorporation of the Chinese into the Cuban citizenry during the first half of the twentieth century.

Chinese Cubans shows how Chinese migration, intermarriage, and assimilation are central to Cuban history and national identity during a key period of transition from slave to wage labor and from colony to nation. On a broader level, López draws out implications for issues of race, national identity, and transnational migration, especially along the Pacific rim.

About the Author

Kathleen López is assistant professor of history and Latino and Hispanic Caribbean studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.


"This history is both well told and worth knowing about. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."

“Copiously referenced and gracefully written. . . . It will no doubt leave its mark on many literatures.”
--Journal of Latin American Geography

Chinese Cubans is the most comprehensive history of the Chinese in Cuba and is extremely insightful. Scholars interested in Cuba, the Chinese diaspora, immigration, race and ethnicity, and related topics will definitely want to read this book.”
--Caribbean Studies

Chinese Cubans is necessary reading for Latin American, Caribbean, East Asian Latino, and Asian American historians. Because the writing is clear and free from unnecessary jargon, this book would also be useful and rewarding for the educated general public.”
--Hispanic American Historical Review

"Meticulously researched and beautifully written, and with a deep, nuanced understanding of the Chinese-Cuban community, this is the first serious and comprehensive history of the Chinese in Cuba."
--Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Brown University

"Original and inspiring scholarship on the birth, evolution and decline of one of the Hemisphere's most important Chinese diaspora communities. Required reading for Asian diaspora, Asian American, Caribbean, and Latin American ethnic and labor studies."
--Walton Look Lai, University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

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