The Power and Pitfalls of Patronage: Chinese Immigrants in Costa Rica during the Era of Exclusion, 1897-1943

Benjamín N. Narvaéz

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    Abstract

    A small number of Chinese migrated to Costa Rica between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. There they experienced Sinophobia, including an immigration ban from 1897-1943. Nevertheless, the community persisted. The Chinese responded to this hostility in part by seeking the support of powerful patrons, including Costa Rican politicians and American diplomats. These ties helped with business concerns, immigration issues, and legal troubles, and could alleviate harassment. However, the Chinese did not always get the help they desired. Moreover, these relationships created their own challenges, including placing the Chinese on the wrong side of Costa Rican politics and forcing them to acquiesce to the interests of the United States. Close examination of these relationships and Costa Rican Sinophobia ultimately challenges Costa Rica's myth of exceptionalism (i.e., racial homogeneity and egalitarianism), sheds light on the construction of this myth, and deepens our larger understanding of the Chinese diaspora in the Americas.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)209-235
    Number of pages27
    JournalJournal of Migration History
    Volume6
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2020

    Keywords

    • Chinese diaspora
    • Costa Rica
    • Federico Tinoco Granados
    • First World War
    • migration
    • patronage
    • race
    • Sinophobia

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