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Until recently, the ethnic Chinese and their language(s) have largely been perceived in Chile as not worth understanding. Perhaps one of the best examples that the ethnic Chinese and/or “Chinese culture” are viewed as strange or difficult to decipher is the way in which Mandarin Chinese characters have been written and interpreted by Chilean artists and comic writers. These are visual manifestations of enduring perceptions in Chile of the incomprehensibility and Otherness of the ethnic Chinese.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-83966-6_8
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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    Lucía Rud explains, for the case of Argentina in the 1990s, a monolithic understanding of East Asia could be seen through the interchangeable actors and languages, where a Korean actor could interpret a Japanese person, and vice versa (2020).

  2. 2.

    We would like to thank Daphné Richet-Cooper and Zheng Yi for their help in deciphering this image.

  3. 3.

    This comedic and racist technique where the Chinese are portrayed as speaking Spanish or English badly is common across contexts, and has also been used in songs, theater plays, and literature published during the first half of the twentieth century until today, such as the play “El Chino” by the Peruvian autor Ernesto Monge Wilhems (1878–1937), performed in Chile in 1925, and later published in the magazine Lectura Selecta, Revista semana de novelas cortas in 1927. In the play, although the Chinese character exercises relative agency and character, especially because he is the protagonist of the play and is economically powerful, the play incorporates stereotypes and racist depictions. In the play, all Chinese characters replace the “r” by “l”; and when a Chilean character imitates the Chinese, he does so by performing linguistic incomprehensibility, through meaningless expressions such as “chan-chan” or “pin-pin” (Palma & Montt Strabucchi, 2021). The song “Los chinos del Cerro Azul” by the popular folklore group Los Cuatro Cuartos (1966), also begins with gibberish sounds that appear to emulate the Chinese language, and in one of the song’s line the “l” sounds replace the “r” sounds. The song thus associates the Chinese with being fierce cannibals yet also appeals to a vision of exotic “Asian” luxury (the use of ivory). Other representations of Chinese language can be found in novels set in Northern Chile published in the mid-twentieth century, including Norte Grande (1944) by Andrés Sabella; Hijo del salitre (1952) by Volodia Teitelboim; and Caliche (1954), and Los Pampinos (1956), by Luis González Zenteno, to mention a few.

  4. 4.

    The transcription of Suzuki varies among different online sources, including Susuky and Susuki, see Historia social de la música popular en Chile, 1950–1970 (González & Rolle, 2004, p. 165).

  5. 5.

    An example of this image is available in this unofficial video of her song “Me Están Mirando”:

  6. 6.

    The songs were “La chica de Tokyo” and “La jovencita de la calle Ginza”, in 1966 with Odeon and the orchestra of Luis Barragan; “Chinita de amor” and “Clavelito chino” were recorded, also with Odeon and the same orchestra, in 1967 (Castro Gómez, 2013).


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Correspondence to Maria Montt Strabucchi .

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Montt Strabucchi, M., Chan, C., Ríos, M.E. (2022). Annex. In: Chineseness in Chile. Studies of the Americas. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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