Chinese labourers working on the Northwest Pacific Railway in the United States in the 1880s. Imported Chinese labourers were called coolies, a label author Mae Ngai is seeking to lift from their backs in her book The Chinese Question. Photo: Getty Images
Chinese labourers working on the Northwest Pacific Railway in the United States in the 1880s. Imported Chinese labourers were called coolies, a label author Mae Ngai is seeking to lift from their backs in her book The Chinese Question. Photo: Getty Images

‘Coolies’ then, still ‘coolies’ now: professor seeking to rehabilitate 19th century migrants from China notes how little some white views of Chinese have changed

  • Mae Ngai, author of The Chinese Question about Chinese migrants’ battle for acceptance, believes we all have to have responsibility for our nation’s history
  • At times the book conveys a sense of personal umbrage, such as when the Chinese are described as ‘locusts’ that white settlers fear will overrun them

Topic |   Chinese overseas
Chinese labourers working on the Northwest Pacific Railway in the United States in the 1880s. Imported Chinese labourers were called coolies, a label author Mae Ngai is seeking to lift from their backs in her book The Chinese Question. Photo: Getty Images
Chinese labourers working on the Northwest Pacific Railway in the United States in the 1880s. Imported Chinese labourers were called coolies, a label author Mae Ngai is seeking to lift from their backs in her book The Chinese Question. Photo: Getty Images
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