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Exclusion through Inclusion: Female Asian migration in the making of Canada as a white settler nation

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In this article I explore the ways in which concerns over nation, 'race', gender and sexuality shaped late nineteenth and early twentieth century debates on whether Canada should exclude or include female migrants from China, Japan and India in the emerging nation-state. In the late nineteenth century, Canadians began to debate whether to allow female migration from China, Japan and India. The vast majority of those who participated in the debate argued that female migrants from Asia should be excluded, as their exclusion would insure that male migrants from Asia would be rendered as temporary residents. On the other hand, there was a small but vocal minority who argued that female migrants from Asia should be allowed into Canada. As the presence of single male Asian residents raised the specter of inter-racial sexuality, these Canadians suggested that it would be prudent to include female migrants from Asia within the nation-state. These debates raise important questions for scholars who study the relationships between nation, 'race', gender and sexuality. First, they point once again to the importance of gender in constituting the racialized practices of the nation. Second, as most scholars have focused on the exclusionary aspects of nationalism, they complicate our understanding of race, gender and nation by illustrating that racialized politics of nation can lead to not only exclusionary but also inclusionary practices.

Keywords: Asian women; Canada; Racism; exclusionary practices; gender and nationalism; inclusionary practices; migration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: York University, Toronto, Canada

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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