In her new book, Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory
(Stanford University Press, 2018), Ana Paulina Lee
(Columbia University) analyzes representations of the Chinese in Brazilian culture to understand their significance for Brazilian nation-building in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Lee has assembled a multidisciplinary archive encompassing literature, visual culture, theater, popular music, and diplomatic correspondence. Although their numbers in Brazil were not as large as immigration from Japan, the Chinese were nevertheless portrayed as non-white, sexually deviant, and unfree labor—in sum, a threat to dominant ideologies of branqueamento (racial whitening) and mestiço nationalism. Attentive to events and perspectives on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, Lee makes a distinctive contribution to the growing literature on Asian American history and cultural studies beyond North America and the Caribbean.
Ian Shin is an assistant professor of American culture at the University of Michigan.