Beating the odds: a survival story of Chinese immigrants in Nicaragua

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After passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) in the United States, anti-Chinese sentiment swept across the Americas. The Chinese diasporas coped with this challenge in different ways with different results. Many suffered a loss of wealth and rights. Others witnessed expulsion and massacres. But some navigated the problematic times with much more success. One such group was the Chinese in Nicaragua. Taking advantage of domestic and foreign assistance, they avoided the grim fate that Chinese elsewhere experienced. Drawing on archival documents located in Managua and Taipei and oral histories from descendants of Chinese Nicaraguans, this paper traces the beginnings and early development of the Chinese communities in Nicaragua. It highlights the particular struggle of the Chinese in the 1930s against the immigration ban and the ensuing “Gentlemen’s Agreement” between China and Nicaragua. The subsequent economic prosperity and political influence that Chinese Nicaraguans enjoyed until 1979 suggest an alternative narrative to the conventional story of global Chinese migration. The survival story of the Chinese in Nicaragua calls for a more transnational approach to the study of immigrants in the wider Latin America.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of World History
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 28 Mar 2024

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