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After reflecting upon the various topics we have covered in HIS361, The Enslaved of Latin America, I was drawn to the central theme of identity construction, specifically, within the enslaved Chinese. I am a transnational adoptee. My parents adopted me from Guangdong, a province in Southern China when I was 9 months old. While learning about the enslaved Chinese who primarily came from Southern China from the same province, I was deeply intrigued and wondered if my past ancestors or great-great-grandparents could have been subjected to enslavement during the Manilla Galleon period or the era of the Cuban Coolie Trade. Identity construction is something that I grapple with personally, as I’ve struggled to determine my own identity versus how others perceive me. Within this Final Portfolio, specifically within my creative element, I attempt to document the identity construction of these enslaved Chinese throughout the 16th century up until the 19th century.

Nota Bene

As I completed research for this portfolio, I struggled with the ambiguity of the word, “chino.” As explained further along in my project, “chino” takes on numerous meanings, making it difficult to specify my search for specifically “ethnically Chinese” people. Throughout my portfolio, I sometimes use the word “chino,” which in this text, means I am directly referring to the ethnically Chinese people who were enslaved. Furthermore, I also would like to acknowledge the issues of appropriation and exoticization that commonly occur while attempting to depict a racial-ethnic group. Within my creative work, I chose solely to depict the enslaved Chinese from direct primary source quotes and never from my own imagination or inherent biases.

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