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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which aims to engage with the complexities surrounding evaluations of ethnic and national identity through a case study of the migration and settlement of Chinese to the island of Mauritius, and in the process to contribute to scholarly debates about ethnicity, nationalism, postcolonial theory and notions of hybridity. Until the late 19th century it was illegal to leave China without special permission from the Emperor. Migration from China in the colonial period had a 'hybrid character' with migrants generally passing through the European territories of Macao, Hong Kong, Singapore or Penang, and even Calcutta. By the mid 19th century China faced a declining dynasty which had become corrupt and oppressive. Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has transformed itself from a depressed and overpopulated monoculture into the so-called 'little tiger of the Indian Ocean' with diversification into textiles, tourism and financial services.

Keywords: Chinese emigration; Mauritius; migration

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