Organized Panel Session
Between the 18th and 20th centuries, political and economic transformations across Asia and the Transpacific heralded a sea change in the global pathways along which Chinese sailors, labourers, merchants, capitalists and intellectuals moved. Rather than focusing exclusively on patterns of migration or economic settlement, this panel attempts to conceptualize the ways historical “regimes of mobility” have transformed the lives of Chinese peoples, their ancestral and adoptive communities, and the broader Asia-Pacific world. Understanding such mobilities requires examining the complex and often contentious interplay of states, empires and companies, alongside fraternal, religious and translocal networks that made up such regimes. Our papers will examine the ways in which these forces interacted dynamically to produce or inhibit mobilities, empower or disempower groups, and propagate or undermine imperial agendas. Nicholas McGee pushes for a new interpretation of the Qing empire’s regulation of its subjects’ overseas circulations before the Opium Wars. Jason Chang offers a comparative analysis of the political cultures that flowed through the imperial recruitment of Chinese, Filipino and South Asian seamen in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Fredy Gonzales examines the rapid spread of the Hong Men Chee Kung Tong Chinese fraternal organization from California to all around the Pacific Rim. Finally, Peter Thilly interrogates the uses of extraterritorial foreign citizenship by mobile Southern Fujianese seeking to maximize profits and evade prosecution in their ancestral province. Collectively, these papers offer new perspectives on the multiple regimes of Chinese mobility that emerged, intersected and collided in the formation of the modern Asia-Pacific.