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Chinese CubansA Transnational History$
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Kathleen M. Lopez

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781469607122

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469607146_Lpez

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Families and Communities

Families and Communities

(p.82) Chapter Three Families and Communities
Chinese Cubans

Kathleen López

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes how local histories in Cuba have focused on the most prominent Chinese, recognized for their service in the wars for independence and transnational businesses. Following this trend, scholarship has emphasized a narrative of Chinese coolies who died, fled, or blended into the Afro-Cuban population after the period of indenture. Alongside transnational merchants and diplomats, however, were thousands of former coolies who, like Pastor Pelayo, continued to work on sugar plantations or as employees in Chinese-owned businesses. Far from disappearing from view after indenture, they were integral to the early formation of Chinese Cuban family and community life. By the 1880s, slaves in the final years of emancipation and former indentured laborers followed similar paths, as they sought a livelihood and increased social status through informal and formal means. The Chinese who survived their contracts and remained in Cuba settled into local society by marrying, having children, purchasing property, and engaging in business, often alongside former slaves.

Keywords:   indentured labor, Chinese Cubans, sugar plantations, wars for independence, Chinese-owned businesses, social status

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