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Indian and Chinese Immigrant Communities

Indian and Chinese Immigrant Communities

Comparative Perspectives

Edited by Jayati Bhattacharya & Coonoor Kripalani

This interdisciplinary collection of essays offers a window onto the overseas Indian and Chinese communities in Asia. Contributions give insight on the interactive role of the cultural and religious ‘other’, the diasporic absorption of local beliefs and customs, and the practical business networks and operational mechanisms unique to these communities.

Hardback, 328 Pages


January 2015

£70.00, $115.00

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About This Book

With the Asian economic upsurge in the recent decades, diasporas have emerged as significant agencies of the cultural diplomacy of respective nation states. Two of the most significant diasporic communities, the Indians and the Chinese, have long histories of migration to different corners of the world with considerable visibilities in different geo-political demographies. They have created many different local sites of interaction between themselves and with the host communities, particularly in Southeast Asia. The emerging concepts of ‘knowledge economy’, ‘global capitalism’, new trends of entrepreneurship, and a gradual shift of the economic power to the East has brought about a revision of relationships between homeland, diasporas and the different host nation-states.

This interdisciplinary collection of essays offers a window onto the overseas Indian and Chinese communities in Asia. Contributors discuss the interactive role of the cultural and religious ‘other’, the diasporic absorption of local beliefs and customs, and the practical business networks and operational mechanisms unique to these communities.

Growing out of an international workshop organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore and the Centre of Asian Studies at the University of Hong Kong, this volume explores material, cultural and imaginative features of the immigrant communities and brings together these two important communities within a comparative framework, and offers an example for further cross-disciplinary comparative study of this type.


“Groundbreaking! The essays in this extraordinary collection juxtapose the Chinese and Indian Diasporas – two of the largest in world history – in a range of unprecedented ways. Far beyond merely comparing, they also reveal how the migration processes interact and intertwine, overlap and intersect each other. As a source of insight, inspiration and information, this volume forces us to fundamentally rethink many important aspects of migration while showing exciting new possibilities in the field of diaspora studies.” —Elizabeth Sinn, author of “Pacific Crossing: California Gold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong”

“Arising from two of the largest migrations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Chinese and Indian immigrant communities are well known, little studied, and rarely compared—until now. This is a path-breaking book, which shows all the complexity and ambiguities of immigrant life in vivid comparative detail. I heartily recommend it.”—Gary G. Hamilton, Associate Director, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

Author Information

Jayati Bhattacharya is a Lecturer in the South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore.

Coonoor Kripalani is Honorary Institute Fellow at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Hong Kong.


Anthem-ISEAS India-China Studies

Table of Contents

Foreword (Wang Gungwu); Acknowledgements; Introduction (Jayati Bhattacharya and Coonoor Kripalani); 1. Blackbirders Refitted? The Journeys of Capitalists and Labourers in the Indian Ocean, 1830s–1930s (Sugata Bose); 2. Connecting Diaspora Histories: Indians and Chinese in Colonial Malaya (Sunil S. Amrith); 3. Chinese and Indian Diaspora: Some Common and Not-So-Common Cultural Processes (Tan Chee-Beng); 4. China’s Nationality Laws and the Chinese Overseas (Leo Suryadinata); 5. Comparison of Home Remittance System between India and Chinese Migrants in Southeast Asia: Ninteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Hamashita Takeshi); 6. Identity, Transnationalism and Corporate Development: Chinese Business in Malaysia (Edmund Terence Gomez); 7. Beyond the Glitterati: The Indian and Chinese Jewellers of Little India, Singapore (Jayati Bhattacharya); 8. Indian and Chinese Communities in Contemporary Burma: A Comparative Analysis of Their Presence and Influence (Renaud Egreteau); 9. Expressions of Faith in Hindu Processional Festivals: Case Studies from Singapore and Malaysia (Gauri Parimoo Krishnan); 10. Beyond Boundaries? Hindu Spaces in Chinatowns of Kolkata and Singapore (Jayani Bonnerjee); 11. Law and Its Impact on Diasporic Philanthropic Institutions: The Practices of Sinchew and the Waqf in the Straits Settlements (Stephanie Chung Po-yin); 12. Indian Soldiers and Policemen in China in the Colonial Period (Madhavi Thampi); 13. New Indian Migrants in Guangzhou and Its Vicinity (Jia Haitao); 14. Who Is a Chinese-Indian? Search for the Cultural Identity of the Chinese-Indians in Kolkata, Sihui and Toronto (Zhang Xing); 14. Overseas Indian and Chinese Communities in Film: Defining Identities through Popular Hindi Film and Transnational Chinese Films, 1990s Onwards (Coonoor Kripalani); 15. The “Other” NRIs: The Case of Low-Wage Indian Migrants in the Gulf (Laavanya Kathiravelu); Postscript. Shifting Worlds and Changing Identities: The Reshaping of the Chinese-Indian Communities in India after the 1962 “Sino-Indian Incident” (Kwai Yun Li); Contributors; Index

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