The same plan has been adopted in the preparation of the present Catalogue for the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia. Part I, has, however, been thoroughly revised, and the system of classification changed so as to be in accordance with that of the Centennial Committee. The compass of the work, the meager reports on some branches of industry, and the exhaustive contributions on others, have rendered it impossible to allot to each branch that space which is due to its importance. The materials placed at my command were official reports.
As one reviewer commented, unwittingly highlighting a persistent trend in Britain, an author did not need to possess extensive knowledge of the Chinese in order to be publicly recognized as an authority on them. For them, the phrase aptly portrayed the challenges of regulating Chinese immigration and dealing with the social and cultural incompatibilities of Chinese immigrants and white residents.
InSir Archibald Michie, the former Attorney-General of Victoria, used the phrase to describe the legal problems posed by Chinese immigration to Australia.
Those who opposed or supported Chinese labor and immigration often argued that legal regulation was the most effective response to the moral, economic, and social challenges presented by Chinese communities in Britain and the empire.
Trials and their public retellings also provided opportunities for all of those involved, including Chinese residents themselves, to affirm or contest racial stereotypes. The most determined attempts to regulate Chinese immigration and Chinese immigrants through law, and the most negative portrayals of them in press and literature, came to a head as Britain confronted military and economic challenges abroad.
The rise of chauvinistic nationalism, labor tensions, sensationalized journalism, and anti-immigrant sentiment in this period were significant factors as well. The growth of the Chinese population in the metropolis also intensified public concerns with their labor and residency.
Even at its highest point, the Chinese population of the metropolis never numbered more than a few thousand, and anti-Chinese sentiment reached its zenith in the interwar period, when their numbers were declining introduction 3 from a wartime apex. Viewing negative portrayals or treatment as an inevitable response to the increasing numerical presence of Chinese immigrants in Britain is unhelpful in any case, since it naturalizes racial antipathy as an undifferentiated and ahistorical phenomenon.
Further explanation for the rapid rise in anti-Chinese sentiment lies in its articulation across a broad spectrum of British society.
Chinese residents became a concern for union leaders, journalists, police, magistrates, politicians, Home Office officials, playwrights and authors, and the working-class residents of London and other cities in Britain.
Anglo-Chinese relations were also mutually constituted at the local, national, and imperial levels. And the perceived threat of the Chinese to white communities was often based on the imagined potency of their race and the purported coherence of their international community as compared to the permeability of Britain and the vulnerability of the British race to corruption and demoralization.
In sum, Chinese immigration and labor became significant issues in public discourse because they were intimately bound up with the economic, cultural, political, social, and legal development of British society as a whole in the early twentieth century.
The multiple points of contact between Chinese and Britons, however, were not accompanied by any recognition of shared interest or character. The supposed opacity of the Chinese made them an ideal racial foil for a broad spectrum of British society, from British seamen struggling to maintain their economic viability, to judicial officials combating crime and demoralization in the East End, to demobilized veterans adjusting to interwar gender relations.
Chinese laborers, for example, were portrayed by British union leaders as being immoral, feminized, mutinous, sexually deviant, and mercenary, whereas their British counterparts were described as masculine, virtuous, and patriotic.
This helps explain why observers from a variety of perspectives described the Chinese as challenging the British in ways that almost no other nonEuropean cohort did. The development of Anglo-Chinese relations and the defining of race as a category itself in Britain and the empire were fundamentally fragmented, contested, unstable, and incomplete processes.
In the case of the Chinese, these processes were further complicated by the diverse interests of those groups that sought to define them and by the speech and actions of Chinese residents themselves.
The complexities and contradictions of Chinese stereotypes in Britain and the empire were particularly apparent in discussions of the alleged willingness of Chinese men to work harder, and for less remuneration, than their white counterparts were.
The obvious contradictions in these stereotypes—that Chinese men were both dependable and conniving, savage and civilized, degenerate but powerful, deprived and yet wealthy—were resolved by the supposition that their calm outward visage often belied a vastly different interior.
The habits, characteristics, and character of one whether observed, constructed, or simply assumed Map 1. Courtesy of the Library of Virginia. Limehouse and the West India Docks, Although Chinese men did not become a serious concern in London law, press, and literature until the early twentieth century, they had been living in the East End since the late eighteenth century.
Among the earliest residents were seamen who had been discharged from East India Company ships. With the exception of opium smoking, however, similar concerns were often expressed in the descriptions of other immigrant groups that appeared in journalism and literature.
Decades later, both Count E. Armfelt, in his contribution to George R. Although these accounts generally portrayed the Chinese as orderly and law-abiding, the writers were often far from complimentary in their descriptions of the district, its inhabitants, and their practices.
And beyond the possible moral and physical repercussions for the few white women who chose to marry Chinese men—women who were often described as already being immoral, debauched, or otherwise incapable of making a respectable match to a white man, in any case—Chinatown and its Chinese residents seemed to pose little threat to the broader community.
Armfelt, in his piece written for Sims, was quite explicit in this regard. Public opinion on Chinese labor and residency in Britain would remain sharply divided well into the war years, with some praising Chinese workers and asserting that they were orderly residents of the metropolis while others heaped calumny upon them.MIME-Version: Content-Type: multipart/related; boundary="=_NextPart_01CEFAC6ED" This document is a Single File Web Page, also known as a Web Archive file.
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