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1. Introduction: Chineseness in Chile

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Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)

Abstract

This book analyzes representations and deployments of Chineseness in Chile to make visible and understand how and why historical examples of racist and essentialist representations continue to resonate in contemporary cultural productions and media. In doing so, we seek to understand how and why ideas about China, the ethnic Chinese, and “Chinese culture” have and continue to exert an important symbolic influence on the Chilean national social imaginary.

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Fig. 1

(Photo by Carol Chan)

Fig. 2

(Image courtesy of Chilean Toy Museum [Museo del Juguete Chileno])

Fig. 3
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Fig. 7

Notes

  1. 1.

    Due to its relatively conversative perspective, it was one of the few popular Chilean comics to have survived censorship during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973–1990). Indeed, as Diego Escobedo observed, “the secret to the comic’s endurance was its political neutrality… completely oblivious to contemporary problems. Condorito, along with the (television program) ‘Jappening con Ja,’ constituted ‘the official humor of Pinochet’” (Escobedo, 2014).

  2. 2.

    Due to copyright restrictions, unfortunately we are unable to reproduce these images here.

  3. 3.

    On Chilean identity and national construction see, among others, Aravena Reyes and Silva Rivas (2009), Bengoa (1996), Canihuante (2005), Cuevas (2008), Favi Cortés (2017), Larraín (2001), Pinto Vallejos y Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate (2009), Rinke (2014), Rojo (2006), Rojo et al. (2003), Silva Avaria (2008), Silva Avaria and Riquelme (2018), Subercaseaux (2007), Tijoux Merino and Córdova Rivera (2015) and Tijoux (2016).

  4. 4.

    In contrast to other minorities and marginalized populations within the Chilean national and social imaginary, such as the indigenous persons or Bolivians and Peruvians, the ethnic Chinese were and are arguably considered more “Other” partially due to their linguistic differences, and their association with a place or area that is geographically and culturally distant. For a discussion on the “Othering” of indigenous persons and Peruvian immigrants in the Chilean social imaginary, see Aravena and Silva (2009). Jorge Larraín (2019) has described three dimensions to this process of Othering in Chile: the temporal (Others are located in the past as backward); the internal form of Othering (the indigenous, the poor, and the delinquent, for example are Othered because they do not fulfil some basic requirements of national belonging); and the spatial dimension (Others are associated to those who live outside of national borders).

  5. 5.

    These countries include the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

  6. 6.

    See, for example, the work of Rita Laura Segato (2010), and Peter Wade (2010, 2020) on mestizaje, race and ethnicity in Latin America.

  7. 7.

    There is a growing corpus of literature on Chile and China’s relationship (see, among others, Ampuero & Labarca, 2017; Barton & Rehner, 2018; Bórquez, 2019; Bórquez et al., 2021; Labarca, 2015; Montt Strabucchi & Rehner, 2020; Palma & Montt Strabucchi, 2017; Ríos et al., 2021; Ross, 2020; Saavedra Cruz, 2018; Serrano Moreno et al., 2020; Serrano-Moreno et al., 2020; Telias & Urdinez, 2021; Vidal Kunstmann, 2020; Wilhelmy, 2010; Zhu, 2020).

  8. 8.

    The legal abolition of slavery in Latin America generally began in the early nineteenth century. Finally, Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery in 1888 (Andrews, 2004).

  9. 9.

    The role of the ethnic Chinese in this war resonates—although to a smaller degree—with the importance of the participation of the ethnic Chinese in Cuban wars of independence in the latter’s national history and imagination.

  10. 10.

    Within a Cold War context, the PRC’s rift with the Soviet Union and later rapprochement with the United States meant that, between Allende’s rise to power and the coup of 1973, the PRC’s international position had changed radically, including its entry into the United Nations in 1971 (Montt Strabucchi, 2019).

  11. 11.

    Other events and agreements mark the continued relationship and exchange between Chile and China. In 2009, China became Chile’s top trading partner; in 2014 the Center for Latin America of Confucius Institutes was inaugurated in Santiago; and in 2015 a Chilean-Chinese Astronomy Center was founded. In 2016, when Xi Jinping visited Chile, 12 bilateral agreements were signed. Between 2017 and 2018, two Chinese banks opened in Chile (Bank of China and China Construction Bank). Additionally, the Committee for Political Dialogue between the Chilean Deputy Chamber and the National People’s Congress, was established in 2005, and holds yearly meetings; and there also exist several sister city and provinces agreements between the countries (Montt Strabucchi, 2021b; Toloza Castillo et al., 2010).

  12. 12.

    The literature on Orientalism in Latin America has grown to include various dimensions and an extensive list of authors. In general, these Orientalisms are understood to be borrowing from European Orientalism, but they also provide nuances and differences and enable alternative representations of Asia. For example, Hoyos (2013) explored Orientalism as part of a South-South connection; Francine Masiello (2001) explores how depictions of the Orient counter North–South flows in Argentina; and Álvaro Fernández-Bravo (2015), drawing from Bhaba, explores how Orientalist stereotypes are contingent and thus continuously shifting. In Brazil, Edward King (2015) explores how Virtual Orientalism exposes a widespread anxiety regarding the reconfiguration of space and time within the context of the network age. Axel Gasquet (2007, 2015) has written on the impact of Orientalism in Argentinean literature and thought, arguing that a different kind of Orientalism emerged in Argentina in the first half of the twentieth century. See also Beltrán Antolín et al. (2016), Chang Shik (2014), Dávila Gonçalves (2016), Fusco (2016), Hagimoto (2016), Holmes (2008), Hubert (2015), Klengel and Ortiz Wallner (2016), Lee-Loy (2010), J. Locane (2019), L. Locane (2020), Montt Strabucchi and Sáiz López (2020), Montt Strabucchi (2021a), M. Park (2009) and Rivas and Lee-DiStefano (2016).

  13. 13.

    We are inspired by Vukovich’s (2012) argument that China is “becoming-the-same” as the West.

  14. 14.

    Afro-descendants in Chile obtained legal recognition in April 2019, although the popular view is that the country does not have Afro-Chileans, or, if such a population exists, “it is a historical remnant of the time before the War of the Pacific (1879–1883) when the area formed part of Peru” (De la Maza & Campos, 2020, p. 1).

  15. 15.

    The magazine Sucesos, founded in Valparaíso on August 18, 1902 by the brothers Gustavo and Alberto Helfmann, stood out for its cartoons and satirical articles. Zig-Zag, founded by the editor of the newspaper El Mercurio, Agustín Edwards Mac Clure, was an illustrated magazine that covered various topics, in which political news was read between advertisements, social news, international and other varieties of texts. Both publications have a wide and heterogeneous readership, with a circulation of more than thirty thousand copies (Rinke, 2002, p. 41). Zig-Zag became one of the most prominent and influential magazines in the history of Chilean print culture and one of the most widely read among the population (Dussaillant & Urzúa, 2020, p. 11).

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Acknowledgements

Part of this chapter is derived from the following article: Ríos, M., Montt, M., & Chan, C. (2021). El imaginario de lo chino en las revistas magazinescas chilenas de principios del siglo XX. Revista Rumbos TS. Un Espacio Crítico Para La Reflexión En Ciencias Sociales, (24), 129–150. https://doi.org/10.51188/rrts.num24.434. Parts of Chapters 2 and 3 are derived from the following article: Strabucchi, M. M., & Chan, C. (2020). Questioning the Conditional Visibility of the Chinese: (Non) Normative Representations of China and Chineseness in Chilean Cultural Productions. Journal of Chinese Overseas, 16(1), 90–116.

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Montt Strabucchi, M., Chan, C., Ríos, M.E. (2022). 1. Introduction: Chineseness in Chile. In: Chineseness in Chile. Studies of the Americas. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-83966-6_1

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