Educational Leadership


One Hundred and Fifty Years of “The Chinese Question”: An Intergroup Relations Perspective on Immigration and Globalization

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The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues / John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Increased migration is, in many ways, the sine qua non of globalization. In this manuscript, we examine the single case of Chinese American immigration in the United States over a 150‐year period to explore how race and interracial attitudes shape immigrant–host relations in very deep ways. We find remarkably little change in the valence of these conversations or even in the precise content of the depictions of Chinese Americans over time. A detailed analysis of depictions and conversations about Chinese Americans in a variety of contexts finds that European Americans in the United States often describe them as: (1) self‐segregating, (2) lacking loyalty to the United States, and (3) hardworking and successful, but simultaneously lacking in “humanity.” We highlight the way such depictions ignore any attention to basic facts; we use these data to discuss the ways that race and interracial interaction form the core of immigrant–host relations; and we use this case study to highlight how race shapes immigrant–host relations around the globe.