The Coolie Speaks: Chinese Indentured Laborers and African Slaves in Cuba

The Coolie Speaks: Chinese Indentured Laborers and African Slaves in Cuba

by Lisa Yun

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Introducing radical counter-visions of race and slavery, and probing the legal and philosophical questions raised by indenture, The Coolie Speaks offers the first critical reading of a massive testimony case from Cuba in 1874. From this case, Yun traces the emergence of a "coolie narrative" that forms a counterpart to the "slave narrative." The written and oral testimonies of nearly 3,000 Chinese laborers in Cuba, who toiled alongside African slaves, offer a rare glimpse into the nature of bondage and the tortuous transition to freedom. Trapped in one of the last standing systems of slavery in the Americas, the Chinese described their hopes and struggles, and their unrelenting quest for freedom.

Yun argues that the testimonies from this case suggest radical critiques of the "contract" institution, the basis for free modern society. The example of Cuba, she suggests, constitutes the early experiment and forerunner of new contract slavery, in which the contract itself, taken to its extreme, was wielded as a most potent form of enslavement and complicity. Yun further considers the communal biography of a next-generation Afro-Chinese Cuban author and raises timely theoretical questions regarding race, diaspora, transnationalism, and globalization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781592135837
Publisher: Temple University Press
Publication date: 04/22/2008
Series: Asian American History & Cultu
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
File size: 937 KB

About the Author

Lisa Yun is Associate Professor of English and Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Challenges of a Transitional History 
1. Historical Context of Coolie Traffic to the Americas 
2. The Coolie Testimonies 
3. The Petitions 
4. The Despositions 
5. An Afro-Chinese Author and the Next Generation 
Conclusion: Old and New Maps of Coolies 

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