Sojourners and Transnationalism: Emigrant Communities in Chaozhou, 1949-1958

Hui Wang, Chinese University of Hong Kong

The opening of Shantou as a treaty port in 1860 contributed to the consolidation of emigrant communities in Chaozhou. Focusing on the transnational ties of Chaozhou emigrants, this paper utilizes Chinese archival sources, newspapers, remittance records, personal letters and oral interviews to explore how sojourning experience influenced the identity formation of Teochew-Chinese in Chaozhou and Southeast Asia. This paper first examines the difficult situation caused by the entry and exit polices of the various sending or hosting states from 1949 to 1958. Then, it addresses the question of how the implementation of a singleentry permit and a return-entry permit was carried out through the Communist-controlled peasant associations in Chaozhou. Because of the newly-introduced population control mechanisms, these Chaozhou sojourners needed to assess the fast-changing domestic and global circumstances and decide whether to return home while seeking the official permit to leave their ancestral homelands to Southeast Asia and beyond. The scholarly findings should throw light on the transition of Teochew-Chinese from a fluid, mobile maritime environment to an increasingly state-centric agrarian society.