© 2017

Chinese in Colonial Burma

A Migrant Community in A Multiethnic State


Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Yi Li
    Pages 1-19
  3. Coming to Burma

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 21-21
    2. Yi Li
      Pages 23-61
  4. Being Burmese Chinese

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 109-109
    2. Yi Li
      Pages 111-145
    3. Yi Li
      Pages 147-177
    4. Yi Li
      Pages 179-219
    5. Yi Li
      Pages 221-228
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 229-262

About this book


Using previously unexplored archives from colonial institutions and individuals, and primary materials produced by the Burmese Chinese, this comprehensive study investigates over a century of history of the Burmese Chinese under British colonial rule. Due to the peculiar position of Burma in the British imperial world and the Southeast Asian Chinese network, the Chinese community had a unique experience in a Southeast Asian colony governed by Europeans with an India-based system. This book reveals, through everyday life experience, prominent community figures, and milestone events, the internal rivalry and integration among different regional groups within the community, and the general impressions it left in contemporary observations and communal memories. The book also traces historical roots of some unsolved ethnic issues in present-day Myanmar.


Rise of Nationalism and Anti-Colonialism The Notion of Ethnic Chinese Remaining Politically Silent The Rangoon Vice Chinese Activities in Colonial Burma Merchants of the Empire Chinese Commercial Operations Colonial Burma Burnese Chinese Chinese empire history history of literature migrant noise writing

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History, SOASUniversity of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Yi Li received her PhD in history at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore between 2014 and 2015. Her research interests include modern Southeast Asia and Chinese diaspora, with a particular focus on migration and colonial history.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Chinese in Colonial Burma
  • Book Subtitle A Migrant Community in A Multiethnic State
  • Authors Yi Li
  • Series Title Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series
  • Series Abbreviated Title Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-53701-0
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-71095-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-51900-9
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVIII, 262
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Southeast Asia
    Imperialism and Colonialism
    History of China
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Li’s exhaustive coverage of Chinese and English language sources provides a new look at how the Chinese in Burma, as a smaller percentage of the diaspora in Southeast Asia, continued to transplant many of the same political, economic, and social networks through kinship connections. … it is certainly an invaluable contribution to the history of Chinese diasporic experiences, and necessary reading for scholars of Chinese and Southeast Asian studies.” (Siew Han Yeo, Journal of Burma Studies, Vol. 22 (1), June, 2018)