Intersections: Colonial Cholon and its 'Missing' Métisses, 1859-1919
Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 21, September 2009

Colonial Cholon
and its 'Missing' Métisses, 1859–1919

Erica J. Peters

  1. When Lieutenant Frédéric Garcin wandered through Hanoi's Chinese district in 1884, he was perturbed by what he did not see there: girls. The many Chinese men in the colony tended to marry Vietnamese women, but where were their 'métisse' daughters? When Garcin asked, the men told him they had only sons, 'who were raised Chinese, as their legitimate sons.' Garcin asserted that the girls were not hidden or killed—'the Chinese love their children'—but reiterated that their absence remained 'a disturbing issue.' His best guess was that the daughters had been sent back to their maternal village, to be raised as Vietnamese.[2] These girls are indeed missing from the colonial literature on Vietnam, so, following Garcin, I call attention to their absence and explore the ramifications of their invisibility.
  2. A secondary literature is emerging that looks at Eurasians in Indochina and explores their uncomfortable legal, cultural and social status in the French colony. Dina Sherzer, Ann Stoler, Christina Firpo, Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen, and David Del Testa have all discussed the situation of the French-Vietnamese métis. Most recently, Emmanuelle Saada has provided an excellent comparative perspective on half-French colonial subjects.[3] Kim Lefèvre's experiences as a 'métisse blanche' have also drawn a great deal of interest. Yet one side of the story has been left in the shadows: Lefèvre's half-sisters, who were also 'métisse,' because of their partial Chinese ancestry. Lefèvre saw her own problems so vividly that they eclipsed any similar issues in her sisters' lives.[4]
  3. Although there were clearly many more people of mixed Chinese/Vietnamese ancestry than Eurasians in colonial Vietnam, their lives did not often come to the attention of French authorities, and little has been said about them. In particular, girls and women with this heritage are surprisingly absent from the colonial discourse, both then and in more recent scholarship.
  4. Asian métisses posed a problem across Southeast Asia, not just in Vietnam, and the category was symbolically erased from the cultural context. Tan Liok Ee has presented a serious treatment of the difficulties of studying women of Chinese ancestry in Malaysian history.[5] Mely Tan's provocative intervention at the major international conference on 'Ethnic Chinese as Southeast Asians' serves as an indication that even in recent years, it was ordinary for researchers to overlook these women. As she asked, 'Why have we ignored the role of 50 per cent of the ethnic Chinese that we have been talking about?'[6] It is vital to make up for this long-standing omission, but also to explore the reasons for the erasure of Southeast Asian women of Chinese background. By focusing on the gendered life of Cholon, Saigon's sister-city, with its large Chinese population, this article sheds some light on these women's stories, and analyses the reasons why they were there but not there, seen but not identified.
  5. Studying the invisible has its challenges. I have had to take an oblique approach at times, investigating the lives of women in Cholon who were apparently Vietnamese or Chinese, rather than métisses. I argue that many of these women were in fact Sino-Vietnamese. Although for the most part we cannot identify which were which, I show that invisibility itself could be useful to girls and women under colonialism.

    Contemporary critiques of the Chinese community
  6. French and Vietnamese sources discussed the Chinese population in the colony as if it were bounded, essentialised, and gendered. In this narrative, Chinese male immigrants, unable or unwilling to bring their original wives with them, took Vietnamese women as concubines, then abandoned those relationships to return home to their real families. Allegations of Chinese sexual exploitation of Vietnamese women mirrored allegations of Chinese economic exploitation of the Vietnamese population, as these colonial compradores were imagined to return with new, unwarranted wealth to their original wives in China.[7]
  7. Yet the story was never so simple. Immigrants had been coming from southern China to Vietnamese lands for centuries before colonialism, but they had little in common, and competed vigorously with one another. For administrative purposes, they were organised into bang (later, congrégations) according to their dialects, so at least those grouped together could understand each other. A small number of men did come with Chinese wives; most of the others formed stable relationships with Vietnamese women.[8] Descendants of mixed Sino-Vietnamese ancestry became known as 'Minh Hương,' although the term was used primarily to define men's tax and residency status. It was a transitional, administrative category, since the Minh Hương men were thought to melt into the Vietnamese population after a generation or two, and women even sooner.[9]
  8. Under colonialism, French businesses relied heavily on Chinese labour and Chinese commercial knowledge, yet French traders and industrialists simultaneously criticised the Chinese as corrupt and exploitative. French colonists complained that Chinese entrepreneurs controlled all commerce, that they colluded with each other, and that they treated the Vietnamese as 'easy prey.'[10] In 1910 an editorial in a newspaper with a Vietnamese readership declared that they should fight off the 'current Chinese invasion' and embrace the French.[11]
  9. A Vietnamese narrative paralleled the French one, speaking of Chinese exploitation, but with different emphases and offering different solutions. In 1898, a Vietnamese bureaucrat vouched for the truth of the following story, though his French listener recorded it as a folktale:

      In Hải Dương province, a poor widow sold her daughter—a ravishing creature, thirteen or fourteen years old—to a rich Chinese merchant. The child was dressed and adorned with uncommon luxury, and her new master treated her with great solicitude and a surprising degree of respect, for a Celestial. A Vietnamese student suspected that the Chinese man wanted to transform the young virgin into a guardian spirit to watch over his wealth. Acting on his advice, the widow secretly told her daughter to leave a trail of rice behind if her master escorted her out of the house. One morning…the widow learned that her daughter had been gone for quite some time. Frightened, she told the student, who summoned the police; they found the trail of rice the girl had thrown behind her, and followed it to an isolated mountainside with freshly turned dirt. Digging, they found her still alive, walled up with her master's treasure. The Chinese man was sentenced to death, while his victim was awarded his property; naturally, she married the Vietnamese student.[12]

    The tale reveals a tension in Vietnamese villages, torn between the pragmatic benefits of a match with a Chinese entrepreneur and the competing fear of losing their daughters and future grandchildren to Chinese culture. Vietnamese mothers could see a sinister side to the situation of a daughter who was now well-dressed and well-treated, as in this story. Many of these Vietnamese mothers had had to endure years of submission to a Vietnamese mother-in-law before emerging strong and in charge of their own family.[13] They worried about their daughters in these different marriages, free of abusive mothers-in-law, but also lacking maternal guidance. These women might never be able to stand up to their Chinese husbands and gain some control over family resources, since they were metaphorically 'walled up'—shut away from their Vietnamese families and their native culture.
  10. Families who married their daughters to Chinese men faced scorn as well as pity. A folk saying imagined a flighty daughter boasting to her mother about the fine clothes, shoes, and household goods she would have after marrying a wealthy Chinese man, instead of a Vietnamese commoner ['dân'].[14] Complementing the criticism of Chinese traders and merchants as exploitative, this narrative faulted the Vietnamese wife for not placing love of country above her vanity and greed.
  11. Vietnamese criticism of Chinese economic exploitation took less obviously sexualised forms as well. In 1907 the famous radical Phan Bội Châu equated Chinese immigrants with French invaders and dismissed both as foreigners, who were only in Vietnam to make a profit:

      If [our goods]…are not made in France, then they are sold by the Chinese; if they do not come from France, then they come from China. We are so stupid to spend all our money on these foreign imports. We feed foreigners the resources Heaven and Earth have given us. Today we buy French merchandise; tomorrow we purchase Chinese goods. This man uses French material; that one wears Chinese clothes…[O]ur society has no will to fight for its own good.[15]

    Phan was unconcerned about censorship in this text, since he wrote it while abroad and had it smuggled into Vietnam by supporters. Others writing inside the colony had to be more circumspect. We can assume that some antagonists of the Chinese community meant their rhetoric to resonate against French colonial exploitation as well, even if they seemed to be promoting cooperation with the French.
  12. Also in 1907, the Đông Kinh Nghĩa Thục free school put out a text which berated the Vietnamese for their lack of initiative, pointing out that 'Chinese people are so conspicuous…in our cities and in our towns,' while few if any Vietnamese visited China.[16] In 1909, the French-educated lawyer Doan Vinh Thuan professed that 'The Indochinese now understand that for too long the Chinese (those Jews par excellence) have stolen from us, and that they will continue to do so until we put them in their place.'[17] Another ally of the French, Hoàng Cao Khải also complained that 'the Chinese who emigrated to our country…captured all the commercial businesses from our people.' In 1915, Dương Văn Men spoke in similar terms about alleged Chinese war profiteering, at a meeting of Saigon's Chamber of Commerce.[18]
  13. In late 1919, Vietnamese frustration with apparent Chinese exploitation rose to new heights with a middle-class boycott of Chinese businesses. As Micheline Lessard has written, editorials in Vietnamese newspapers—notably La Tribune indigène—denounced Chinese commercial control in gendered terms: 'our situation is like that of a three-way marriage [un mariage à trois]…The familiar story of a husband cuckolded with the help of a family friend.' Wily Chinese entrepreneurs were said to seduce naïve Vietnamese away from building their economic future with France. What the metaphor lacked in cogency, it made up for in emotional resonance, as newspapers blamed real Vietnamese women for marrying Chinese men and thereby betraying their countrymen.[19]
  14. One psychological aspect of the 1919 anti-Chinese campaign has, however, gone unnoticed. The Vietnamese editor of La Tribune indigène, Bui Quang Chiêu, had married a woman, Vương Thị Y, whose father was a Chinese entrepreneur and whose mother was Vietnamese. Vương had grown up in a tight-knit 'Chinese' family in Cholon. Her daughter, Henriette Bui, remembered Vương as an ambitious, strong-willed woman, who managed her own money and had modern ideas about her children's paths in life. Tragically, this impressive métisse woman died young from tuberculosis, in 1916.[20] Bui Quang Chiêu had thus married into a wealthy Chinese family and raised six children with Vương. Then, three years after her death, he devoted his newspaper to criticising Chinese economic power. Editorials under his own name emphasised building up Vietnamese commercial capabilities, but he also oversaw pieces assailing the colony's Chinese population.[21] One wonders if Vương Thị Y's untimely death created a fissure between Bui Quang Chieu and her family, which he then projected onto the colony as a whole.

    Sino-Vietnamese stories
  15. Some daughters of mixed Chinese and Vietnamese marriages managed to achieve enormous, astounding success, like Henriette Bui, who completed her medical degree in France in 1934 and broke new ground as Vietnam's first woman doctor. Others were not so fortunate, but their lives are harder to trace. What happened to these girls as they grew up? Were they raised in mixed families in a colonial Chinatown, or sent back to a Vietnamese village to be raised as Vietnamese? If raised by their mother's family, did the other villagers treat these girls as ordinary Vietnamese, or did they scorn them as the offspring of their mothers' cupidity? If raised in the cities, did they think of themselves as Vietnamese or Chinese or as mixed? Were they more likely to marry Vietnamese men, as Vương Thị Y did, or to maintain the Chinese community by marrying new Chinese immigrants or sons of mixed marriages like themselves? As they came of age, did they have access to their fathers' property for dowries? Did their mothers set aside money for them? Or were they forced to fend for themselves?
  16. We have limited sources to resolve these questions. Kim Lefèvre's autobiographical writing presents a recalcitrant case in point. Lefèvre's narrative Métisse Blanche describes one Sino-Vietnamese household: Kim's Vietnamese mother married a Chinese man after her French lover (Kim's father) returned to France. Because the narrator focuses intently on her own experiences as a Franco-Vietnamese métisse, however, we do not learn much about the parallel experiences of her Sino-Vietnamese half-sisters. We hear another child taunting Kim as she cared for her half-sister: 'She's not your sister, she's not métisse,' but we do not learn if the sister faced teasing for having a Chinese father. We see the family sitting together for hours, as Kim's Chinese stepfather described in Vietnamese the food of his childhood, and how his father painstakingly prepared slow-cooked pork for the new year's feasts, but the book suggests their household ate Vietnamese meals. Kim remembered her mother hiring a Chinese woman to cook for her husband's Chinese associates, but we do not hear if the cook taught her craft to either Kim or her Sino-Vietnamese sisters.[22]
  17. Another source suggests that Sino-Vietnamese women maintained certain Chinese traditions or obligations even if they were not married to men from that background. For instance, men from Phuoc-Chau (Fuzhou) had lived in southern Vietnam under the Nguyễn rulers, but by colonial times they had merged with others from Fujian province into the Phuoc-Kien congrégation. But women labeled 'métisses Phuoc-Chau' were still taking care of the old Phuoc-Chau pagoda in Cholon in the early years of the twentieth century.[23]
  18. Other Sino-Vietnamese women looked forward instead. By 1885, the Sisters of Saint Paul ran a hospital in Cholon, paid for by subscriptions within the Chinese community.[24] Well-funded urban hospitals were still rare, so why did this community feel the need to support a hospital? I argue that women in Cholon found themselves isolated from village support systems, and began developing new forms of community to help provide care for those ailing within their households. In 1901, the Chinese community funded a maternity hospital in Cholon, which was popular and widely praised from the beginning, particularly for the work done to train 'native midwives in antiseptic methods.'[25] A few years later, a French doctor praised the women trained in Cholon over established Vietnamese midwives: 'they are younger, cleaner, more active, less resistant to our methods, incomparably less ignorant; they represent a new spirit.'[26] The young midwives who trained in Cholon were not identified by ethnic background, but some were probably Sino-Vietnamese, open to new approaches and new paths in life just as their parents had been. Other Sino-Vietnamese women may have played an unsung role in the unprecedented, massive fundraising campaigns to pay for not only the hospital and the maternity but a nursing home, a school for the blind, and a host of other social institutions in Cholon.[27]
  19. Other women found less appealing employment in workshops where they were taught to cut apart strings of six-hundred coins, remove just a few, then tie the loop back together again to hide the fraud. Women in Cholon were involved in many other such small-scale criminal activities, from illegal lotteries to, of course, prostitution.[28]

    Prostitution, sexual abuse, and human trafficking
  20. Prostitution was a routine feature of the colonial cities, but it took many forms. Sino-Vietnamese daughters raised in an urban environment would have been exposed to that option from their earliest years. One can speculate that their Vietnamese mothers would have had a hard time protecting them from prostitution, when those mothers were cut off from their own extended families and were living as outsiders in an ethnic-Chinese community. For many Sino-Vietnamese girls, their Chinese fathers may have provided a firmer refuge, hiding their daughters away from sexual threats as the Hanoi Chinese fathers did when they told Garcin they had only sons.[29] Although these young Sino-Vietnamese women would seem to be likely candidates for prostitution, we can merely guess at their presence in that world.
  21. Colonial observers could only see prostitutes in expected categories. Vietnamese women for hire could be singers (cô đầu), an erotic profession with a long history in Vietnamese culture; or they could be ordinary prostitutes (con đĩ), legally registered or not. Japanese prostitutes were labeled the most refined; European prostitutes were few in number, and mostly from the poorer countries of Central Europe.[30] The Chinese community in the colony had its own prostitutes, apparently brought in from brothels in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Singapore.[31] Unlike other registered prostitutes in the colony, those in Chinese houses did not face weekly health inspections—since Europeans were banned from Chinese brothels, French officials left them alone.[32]
  22. Administrators addressing prostitution drew a parallel between the trafficking of Chinese girls and women to Cholon and other Chinatowns and the trafficking of Vietnamese girls and women into China. In both cases, the financiers and clientele were Chinese. This so-called 'yellow slave trade' [la traite des jaunes] never shocked the French as much as the idea of a white slave trade. Still, colonial administrators did trace kidnappings of Vietnamese girls and young women and tried to thwart their sale into prostitution or forced marriage in China. Most of these abductions took place in Tonkin, in what is now northern Vietnam, where the population was poorer and the transit to China shorter.[33] French administrators showed much less concern about the possible abductions of Chinese women into Vietnam.
  23. An unspoken reason for official concern with human trafficking was that French soldiers may have at times played a role in the sordid industry. Rumors during the wars of conquest accused French troops and their allies of abusing indigenous women and selling them into Chinese prostitution. In Phnom Penh in 1859, Chinese and Vietnamese refugees from the French capture of the Saigon region portrayed the brutal conduct of the soldiers towards 'defenseless women,' speaking of it as 'the behavior of savages.'[34] Administrators long remembered the 'panic' of late 1859 which started in the Saigon region: 'everywhere people spoke of girls kidnapped to be sold in China or Singapore…Rumors abounded that "Western barbarians" were known for selling women, and that a European ran the enterprise.'[35]
  24. Twenty-five years later, when the French conquered Tonkin, again rumors spread of French troops raping local women. The Scottish journalist James George Scott provided an eyewitness account in 1884: '[M]en of the Foreign Legion surrounded…quarters of Hanoi, and went in by turns to abuse women and to carry off whatever seemed good to them. This sometimes happened two or three nights running, yet none of them were ever caught or punished.'[36] Hocquard confirmed, during that same campaign, that Hanoi's districts each had solid doors barring the streets to keep out trouble; he did not note, however, that thugs could thus lock out any hope of rescue or escape as they terrorised a neighbourhood. Faced with soldiers in the streets, the Chinese went furthest in their fortifications, arming themselves 'to the teeth' and posting permanent guards:

      The doors by which one penetrates the Chinese quarter are crenellated like the walls of a citadel; they are extremely sturdy, and with galleries above where guardsmen can stand. It is impossible to enter [pénétrer] the Chinese streets when the doors are closed…[A]t a moment when the city was burning and bloody, only the Chinese were able to protect their district.[37]

    The repeated use of "pénétrer" points to one of the reasons the French were trying to get past the walls. That extra level of protection must have meant something to Vietnamese women evaluating marriage partners, especially considering what might happen to their children in these violent decades of warfare and disorder. There were certainly plenty of mixed Sino-Vietnamese children living in Hanoi, even if Lieutenant Garcin, there during the same violent year, was not able to find any girls.[38] Why exactly did he want to find the girls, one is left wondering. Those foundational moments of French-sanctioned violence against indigenous women, first in 1859 and repeated in 1884, provide an indispensable context for understanding colonial structures relating to gender and ethnicity.
  25. This initial violence suggests why Europeans were banned from Chinese brothels in Cholon. That ban, in turn, helps remind us that Chinese men wielded their own definite power, even under colonialism. If later French men could not see Sino-Vietnamese girls living in the colony, perhaps the Chinese fathers or their wives remembered what might happen if their daughters were found.[39]
  26. In 1880, the sinologist Antony Landes was mayor of Cholon when he drafted a report on prostitution and child trafficking in that city.[40] Cholon's Chinese brothels listed sixty-six young girls (aged five to fourteen) on their records, but his main concern was to establish that they were all there legally. If some had been abducted from their homes in China, that had happened abroad and was thus 'impossible to confirm.' He noted that some of these girls came from Vietnamese families, but they had been purchased at a very young age and raised to act Chinese, even to the point of losing their ability to speak Vietnamese. Landes declared the Vietnamese girls 'very hard to distinguish' from the Chinese.
  27. Perhaps they were so hard to tell from the Chinese girls because they themselves had some Chinese ancestry, but Landes did not address that possibility. Instead, he focused on reassuring the French governor that none of the girls, Chinese or Vietnamese, engaged in prostitution until they were at least fifteen—'if a few cases turn up, he insisted, that would not invalidate the general rule.' Furthermore, Landes professed that the education these poor children received in the brothels was hardly more immoral than the one they would have received at home, given the low status of their families. The class prejudices of such a remark jump out at the modern reader.
  28. More than a decade later, the Mékong newspaper alleged that some of the girls in Cholon's brothels had been kidnapped from their families in the colony, asserting that 'A commerce in little girls flourishes in Cholon.'[41] Leaving aside the question of abductions, it is clear that many prepubescent girls grew up alongside prostitutes in the colonial city, and they were not brought up as Vietnamese. Landes wrote that they were raised like Chinese girls [élevées à la chinoise], but we have little knowledge of what it meant to be raised like Chinese girls in the Sino-Vietnamese culture of Cholon in the early decades of colonialism. In the 1920s Chinese women began to arrive legally and in large numbers. But earlier, there were few Chinese women immigrants to the colony. So, some girls in Cholon were raised by Chinese prostitutes who may have had an unstable childhood of their own, a few were raised by Chinese immigrant mothers, but most girls who lived in the city were probably raised by their Vietnamese or Sino-Vietnamese mothers.

    Sino-Vietnamese statistics, and their inadequacy
  29. Official statistics, through their very limitations, help us understand the story of who was visible and who invisible in the colony. Administrators usually did not collect mixed-race demographic data and when colonial observers did try to quantify the métis population, the results varied extravagantly: an 1873 report found only 285 Minh Hương in Cochinchina, while a missionary estimated ten years later that there were two hundred thousand Minh Hương .[42] A meticulous 1898 report on Cholon broke down the Vietnamese and Chinese population by many demographic factors: boys under fourteen, single men over fourteen, married men, and widowers; girls under fourteen; single women over fourteen, married women, and widows.[43] The only category in which females outnumbered males in Cholon was in children under fourteen: 56 per cent of the children were girls, mostly Vietnamese. The report did not explain the imbalance, or speculate about the origins of an extra four thousand girls. Perhaps these girls, despite their young age, had been sent from the countryside to earn money in the city, or to be groomed for prostitution. As we have seen, prostitution was a major industry in Cholon, so the supposition seems not unfounded.[44]
  30. Moreover, the detailed demographic report did not even mention the category Minh Hương . Everyone, including every child, was labeled either Vietnamese or Chinese, even though the statistics said that a third of the Vietnamese women had Chinese husbands (and thus had Sino-Vietnamese children), and even though the apparent Chinese female population of fourteen thousand (a third of the total 'Chinese' population) was much higher than we would expect at this early date, based on immigration sources.[45] Many of these women may have been Sino-Vietnamese in ethnicity, despite their Chinese appearance. Appearance was a tricky, slippery thing in Cholon in colonial days.

    Appearances, disguises, and young women's bodies
  31. Disguises were definitely in use in Indochina, and women and men used clothes and hairstyles to play with their identity for an audience. French police observed an interesting group asking questions in Hà-Dông (near Hanoi) in 1905: a Japanese man sporting a short haircut and dressed in European clothes, accompanied by two women in Tonkinese dress and hairstyles, 'who we assume are two Chinese women,' and a child wearing Chinese clothes and a Chinese-style braid. Further investigation revealed the man to be Tchong Nhim Tcheu, a wealthy Cantonese (or half-Cantonese) property-owner and pharmacist living in Hanoi; the women were his two wives, who were not further identified but were probably Vietnamese or Sino-Vietnamese, and the child was his young son. Their clothes and hairstyles stood out in the Hanoi suburb and called attention to their presence. Why did the police decide that the women in Tonkinese dress and hairstyles were in fact Chinese women? Perhaps it was because of the unsavory company they kept. Perhaps the small group was trying more to stir up trouble than to get any answers; the local Vietnamese certainly treated them with suspicion.[46]
  32. Nine years later, different women were involved in a different kind of trouble:

      People are saying that Vietnamese women, dressed in Chinese clothes, are spreading anti-French propaganda in various spots across Tonkin…At the head of this group is a métisse of about twenty—they say she is the daughter of a navy officer—she is well known for her Francophobic feelings.[47]

    The ringleader was said to be half-French and her fellow radicals were Vietnamese, but they dressed in Chinese clothes. In these years after the Chinese Revolution of 1911, Chinese clothes sent a signal of anti-traditionalism, of transnational connections, of power.
  33. Hair and clothes were quick ways to put on a costume and put on an identity. Women's hair fashions changed over the years, but generally French observers described Chinese women in the colony as having elaborate hair creations, with tiers upon tiers of flowers, while Vietnamese women supposedly restrained themselves to a simple bun held together with an elegant pin.[48] French male observers were more fascinated by the unfamiliar sight of men wearing their hair long: Vietnamese men wore it up in a bun, and Chinese men wore their hair back in a long braid. While Sino-Vietnamese men were required to wear a Vietnamese hairstyle, the law provided no guidance to Sino-Vietnamese women. Still, any embellishment as easy to change as a hairstyle could hardly act as a reliable marker of identity.
  34. In contrast, lacquering teeth a shiny black served in Vietnam as a significant, semi-permanent physical marker of a woman's maturity. Chinese women did not lacquer their teeth, so, like foot binding, this was a way for mothers to indicate their daughters' ethnic identity. The journalist Scott reported that Chinese men married the prettiest women.[49] Since Europeans preferred their women to have a white smile, I take Scott's envy as a possible sign that many of the women in the colony who married Chinese men had not blackened their teeth despite reaching a marriageable age. The absence of that Vietnamese practice would thus reflect their families' decision to look at Chinese men as future marriage partners. Teeth lacquering had to be maintained on a regular basis and could be reversed. It is thus also possible that Vietnamese and Sino-Vietnamese women went through the process before deciding who they would marry and then delacquered their teeth to please a Chinese (or European) suitor.[50]
  35. Even more than teeth lacquering, foot binding was imagined as an unchangeable mark, in this case a mark of Chinese female identity. Foot binding was the first association in French colonial minds when they thought of Chinese girls, so perhaps when Landes said the brothel girls were raised Chinese he meant that starting around age six they had their feet tightly wrapped to bend and break them into shape.[51] Chinese prostitutes trafficked to Cholon might have had their feet bound back in China, to prepare them for their erotic profession, so they might have been familiar with the practice. Some colonial witnesses mention a few Chinese women with bound feet in Cholon, but not many. When Noé Filoz stopped briefly in Saigon before heading to Angkor in 1874, he visited Cholon and noted that 'the Chinese women are little and ugly; rich ones wear sumptuous clothes; their feet are generally deformed.'[52] Ten years later, Léon de Tinseau reported the same class difference. Some Chinese women showed no discomfort as they walked through Saigon and Cholon in black silk pants and tunic; but their more refined counterparts—'La Chinoise comme il faut'—had crippled little feet, left home rarely, and then only by carriage. When Charles Carpeaux passed through Saigon on his way to Angkor in 1901, he described a young Chinese woman with tiny feet who walked with difficulty. Her feet were just 'two stumps, and resembled the cloven feet of a faun more than anything human.'[53]
  36. Were they all Chinese, these women with their bound feet, or were some Sino-Vietnamese? We should not assume French observers could tell the difference. Tinseau said he saw Chinese women all over Saigon and Cholon, and claimed that the population of Cholon was exclusively Chinese: 'fifty thousand inhabitants of [Cholon] are all Chinese…they speak only Chinese, they make and sell only Chinese products, and they eat only Chinese food.'[54] According to 1898 statistics, the male population of Cholon was about half Vietnamese and half Chinese, and the female population was about three quarters Vietnamese and one quarter Chinese.[55] So perhaps some of the elite 'Chinese' women with their faltering step were actually Vietnamese wives or more likely Sino-Vietnamese wives, with Chinese husbands who valued tiny, compressed feet.
  37. On the other hand, French journalist Henri Ludovic Jammes wrote in 1898 that Vietnamese wives of rich Chinese merchants in Cholon never allowed their métisse daughters' feet to be bound. Jammes cited what he claimed was a common saying among these women: 'Feet are made to walk and not to fester.'[56]
  38. So, there were very few Chinese women in Cholon, and women with bound feet never left home on foot, but French observers occasionally report seeing Chinese women with bound feet, walking awkwardly in the streets of Cholon. An apparent enigma—but, then, appearances were not always reality in the colony. A journalist for the major Paris newspaper Le Temps (which eventually became Le Monde), Marcel Monnier, used his own keen powers of observation to solve the riddles of colonial identity for his readers:

      What a mess! …The most talented ethnographer would have a hard time walking around trying to determine people's backgrounds around here [Saigon and Cholon]. Oh! What a pretty Chinese baby: wide-awake, livelier than his fellows—No, he's métis. His father is that fat Cantonese merchant, and his mother is Vietnamese. And that lady in the puce tunic, who just got out of a rickshaw and seems to have so much trouble balancing on her little feet. She must be a true Chinese, right? Sure, as far as her outfit and her hairdo. But she was probably born not far from here…and raised in a crowded village hut.[57]

    Others agreed that not every woman who looked wobbly on her feet necessarily had a physical deformity. Even in China, women had imagined ways to create the illusion of bound feet, by strapping blocks of wood to their feet to keep them up on their toes. One could then wrap the wood together with the whole foot, up past the ankle, in the expected bandages.[58] Chinese male actors used such artifice when playing woman, and Sino-Vietnamese women may have as well.[59]
  39. French suspicion of disguises was particularly heightened with regard to people of some Chinese ethnicity. Identity affected one's legal status, social status, and economic status, and inevitably observers (and the court system) wanted to know if people were claiming to be what they were not. Men might disguise themselves as Chinese to get out of military service, or to get jobs as railroad labourers, or they might assert a Vietnamese background to avoid expulsion from the colony.[60]
  40. Women faced different stakes. Doctor A.T. Mondière devoted years to a comparative anthropometrics of Vietnamese, Chinese, Minh Hươngand Khmer women's most intimate measurements: eyelids, breasts, pelvis, etc.[61] His practice generated piles of statistics, but his pseudo-scientific gaze also demonstrated his colonial power over these women. The average French official, journalist, soldier or tourist, lacking that technical alibi, would not be able to use the same technique to figure out the background of a particular young woman.
  41. According to Landes, Vietnamese girls were disguised to pass as Chinese prostitutes in Cholon. Colonial officials also frequently asserted that Chinese traffickers dressed Vietnamese girls as Chinese to avoid questions as they crossed into China. The traffickers posed as the parents of these girls, but once across the border they sold them off to be concubines or prostitutes. The practice seemed designed to aggravate administrators. The Resident Superior of Tonkin complained that in addition to the Vietnamese girls and young women who were seized by force and smuggled into China by sea or land, 'many others were forced by their ostensible parents to exchange their national dress for a disguise that makes them look Chinese.' That ploy then allowed the 'parents' to have their passports annotated to show they were travelling with their children, and cross the border openly. Resident Superior Brière continued:

      I ask you to use caution in providing passports to Chinese people accompanied by children. Unless they have sufficient proof to establish their parental relationship, you should refuse to add the children—especially young girls—to their passports.[62]

    The order reflects a desire to keep official hands clean of the tragedy of human trafficking. It is impossible to know how many of the 'Vietnamese' girls 'disguised' as Chinese may have been Sino-Vietnamese métisses, dressed as Chinese because that was how they dressed in daily life, and traveling with their own fathers. I do not want to suggest that Vietnamese girls were never dressed as Chinese by human traffickers, only that French fear of this practice caused no end of hassles and heartache for Chinese families.
  42. Brière based his order on an 1887 memo from the Ministry of the Interior, which required Chinese fathers to provide a legal marriage certificate, a legal birth certificate for the child, and proof of the mother's consent, before they could take a child abroad. That same memo suggested that colonial administrators had the authority to investigate the father's financial position, and to obstruct the child's departure if administrators thought the father poor enough that he would end up selling his own child into prostitution.[63]
  43. This fear that a Chinese father might sell his own daughter into prostitution, together with official concern over disguised Vietnamese girls, meant that Chinese fathers faced many roadblocks if they wanted to bring their children back to China—particularly their daughters. In some ways, this mirrored a precolonial Vietnamese policy preventing Chinese immigrants from returning to China with their sons.[64] The Vietnamese court had wanted to maintain control of the labour represented by Sino-Vietnamese men; French officials were more concerned about what would happen to vulnerable Sino-Vietnamese young women in China. That was, at least, what they wrote in their memos. Like the imperial Vietnamese, French administrators may also have had problems providing enough workers for plantations, mines, and other colonial projects; they may thus have also wanted to keep women from leaving the colonial labour pool.[65]
  44. Despite the parallel with precolonial Vietnamese imperial policies preventing the Chinese from taking their children back to China, French writers clung to the idea that the Chinese who went back to China had a longstanding custom of 'shamelessly abandoning' their wives and children in Vietnam.[66] Indeed this was one of the reasons that La Tribune indigène gave in 1919 for why Vietnamese women should stay away from Chinese husbands.[67] But the French did not present any evidence for this supposed Chinese custom of abandonment, so it is hard to evaluate. What we do know is that the French left many métis children of their own when they returned to France, and often abandoned them without support of any kind.[68] One can wonder if the allegations about the Chinese reveal at their root French guilt and projection of their own paternal irresponsibility onto a different people. Certainly, the French desire to assign each colonial subject a single, correct label carried with it the hope of erasing any perception of the violence and fluidity at the heart of the colonial project. Young Sino-Vietnamese women may have been the most ignored, but they were hardly the only women hurt by the encroaching power structures of colonialism.
  45. I do not pretend to have 'found' the missing métisses, but rather to suggest why they may have been hard to see. Their fathers may not have wanted the French to see them, based on fears emerging from the initial violence of the colonial penetration into Vietnam. Their mothers may have shared those fears, and also hoped their daughters could melt into the population and not be stigmatised with their mothers' sexual betrayal in marrying an ethnic Chinese men. Sino-Vietnamese daughters had their own reasons for not calling attention to themselves, and for wanting to control their image through the use of costumes, hairstyle, fake foot binding and other short-term practices. Furthermore, I suggest that these métisses would not have been very hard to find, for someone looking to offer them support. But the gendered politics of French colonialism meant that outside their families, people mostly looked for women in order to exploit them, whether for sex, for labour, or for their reproductive capacity. In the end, these métisses had only what little security their invisibility won for them.


    [1] I would like to thank Naomi Andrews for her helpful comments on this article.

    [2] Frédéric Garcin, 'Le Tonkin de la conquete de 1884–1885,' in Journal des Sciences militaires, ser. 10, vol. 16 (1902):289–312, pp. 309–10. Note on geographical terms: the French called southern Vietnam 'Cochinchina,' they called northern Vietnam 'Tonkin,' and they called central Vietnam 'Annam.' Before colonialism, the ethnic-Viet inhabitants of present-day Vietnam called their country 'Nam Viet.' China referred to the country as 'An Nam'—'the Pacified South.' Cholon was considered a 'Chinatown' for Saigon.

    [3] Emmanuelle Saada, Les enfants de la colonie, Paris: Editions La Découverte, 2007. See also Dina Sherzer, 'French colonial and post-colonial hybridity: condition metisse,' in Journal of European Studies, vol. 28 (1998):103–120; Ann Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002; Christina Firpo, 'Lost boys: "abandoned" Eurasian children and the management of the racial topography in colonial Indochina, 1939–1945,' in French Colonial History vol. 8 (2007):203–21; Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen, 'Eurasian/Amerasian Perspectives: Kim Lefèvre's Métisse blanche (White Métisse) and Kien Nguyen's The Unwanted,' in Asian Studies Review vol. 29, no. 2 (2005):107–122; David Del Testa (ed.), 'Adieu Saigon, Au Revoir Hanoi, The 1943 vacation diary of Claudie Beaucarnot,' online:, accessed 9 August 2008.

    [4] Kim Lefèvre, Métisse Blanche, Paris: Barrault, 1989; Nathalie Nguyen, '"Métisse Blanche": Entretien avec Kim Lefèvre,' in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context vol. 5 (May 2001), online:; accessed 13 Aug. 2008; Jack A. Yeager, 'Blurring the lines in Vietnamese fiction in French: Kim Lefèvre's Métisse blanche,' Postcolonial Subjects: Francophone Women Writers, ed. Mary Jean Green, Karen Gould, Micheline Rice-Maximin, Keith Walker, Jack Yeager, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996, pp. 210–26.

    [5] Tan Liok Ee, 'Locating Chinese women in Malaysian history,' in New Terrains in Southeast Asian History, ed. Abu Talib Ahmad and Tan Liok Ee, Ohio University Center for International Studies, 2003, pp. 354–84.

    [6] Mely Tan, Wang Gungwu, Leo Suryadinata & Tan Chee Beng, 'Women and Chinese identity: an exchange at the closing session of the workshop,' in Ethnic Chinese as Southeast Asians, ed. Leo Suryadinata, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1997, pp. 296–300, p. 296.

    [7] Henry Bineteau, 'Cochinchine Française,' in Bulletin de la Société de géographie, ser. 5, vol. 7 (Jan.–June, 1864):55–71, p. 58.

    [8] Nguyễn Thế Anh, 'L'immigration chinoise et la colonisation du delta du Mékong,' in The Vietnam Review, vol. 1 (Autumn–Winter 1996):154–177, online:, accessed 11 Aug. 2008.

    [9] Charles Lemire, 'Les établissements Français en Chine: Section VI: Les congrégations chinoises,' in Comptes rendus du congrès national des Sociétés françaises de Géographie, XXIVe Session (1904):311–24, p. 323 ['The Minh Hương, sons of Chinese and a local woman']; Henri Guermeur, Le régime fiscal de l'Indochine, Paris: L'Harmattan, 1999 (orig. Hanoi, 1909), p. 126; René Dubreuil, 'De la condition des Chinois et de leur rôle économique en Indo-Chine,' Bar-sur-Seine: thèse de doctorat, 1910, pp. 12–14; Thomas Engelbert, '"Go West" in Cochinchina: Chinese and Vietnamese illicit activities in the Transbassac (c. 1860–1920s),' in Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, vol. 1 (2007):56–82, pp. 60 and 67, online:, accessed 11 Aug. 2008.

    [10] Centre des Archives d'Outre-Mer (CAOM), Archives of the Governor General of Indochina (GGI), dossier 64420: Conseil Supérieur de l'Indochine, Commission permanente: Mar. 13, 1899 meeting; Bulletin de la Chambre d'Agriculture de la Cochinchine, Oct. 1900 meeting; Bulletin de la Chambre d'Agriculture de la Cochinchine, 1902, note by M. Pâris; L'Opinion, Saigon, 13 June 1906 article on 'Blanchisseurs Chinois!'; CAOM: GGI dossier 8894, Apr. 4, 1908 letter from Faussemagne, p. 3.

    [11] 'Sociologie Asiatique,' in Le Moniteur des Provinces, 3 February 1910, p. 1.

    [12] Albert Basset, 'Notes sur quelques traditions et superstitions annamites,' in Bulletin de la Société dauphinoise d'ethnologie et d'anthropologie, vol. 5, nos. 3&4 (Dec. 1898):214–15.

    [13] Đặng Phúc Thông, La femme dans la société annamite, Hanoi: Tân Dân, 1931, pp. 14–15; Phạm Văn Bích, The Vietnamese Family in Change: The Case of the Red River Delta, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies: RoutledgeCurzon, 1998, pp. 29–36.

    [14] Collected by Nguyễn văn Ngọc in Recueil de proverbes, dictons et chansons populaires, Hanoi, 1928, cited in Nguyễn Hữu Tấn, 'La femme vietnamienne d'autrefois à travers les chansons populaires, in Bulletin de la société des Etudes Indochinoises de Saigon, n.s., vol. 45, no. 1 (1970):1–113, p. 67.

    [15] 'The New Vietnam' (1907), excerpted in Colonialism Experienced ed. Truong Buu Lam, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000, pp. 105–24, p. 116.

    [16] Anonymous text used by Đông Kinh Nghĩa Thục, excerpted in Colonialism Experienced, ed. Truong Buu Lam, pp. 141–56, p. 145.

    [17] Doan Vinh Thuan, La France d'Asie et son avenir: etude historique et economique, Paris: Challamel, 1909, p. 22.

    [18] 'On the wisdom of our country to rely on France' (1910), excerpted in Colonialism Experienced, ed. Truong Buu Lam, pp. 157–61, p. 159; Bulletin de la Chambre de Commerce de Saigon, minutes from 26 Feb. 1915.

    [19] Micheline Lessard, 'Organisons-nous! Racial antagonism and Vietnamese economic nationalism in the early twentieth century,' in French Colonial History, vol. 8 (2007):171–201, pp. 184–188. For more about the 1919 Vietnamese attempted boycott of Chinese shops, see Fukuda Shozo, With Sweat and Abacus. Economic Roles of Southeast Asian Chinese on the Eve of World War II, ed. George Hicks, trans. Les Oates, Singapore: Select Books, 1995 (1939), p. 99; and Christopher E. Goscha, 'Widening the colonial encounter: Asian connections inside French Indochina during the interwar period,' in Modern Asian Studies doi:10.1017/S0026749X0800351X, published online by Cambridge University Press, 16 Oct 2008. For a comparison of the treatment of women in Europe at the end of World War II, see Anette Warring, 'Intimate and sexual relations,' in Surviving Hitler and Mussolini: Daily Life in Occupied Europe, ed. Robert Gildea, Olivier Wieviorka and Anette Warring, New York: BERG, 2006, pp. 88–128, pp. 88–90. Vietnamese editors like Bui Quang Chiêu could choose to publish in French and thereby face lighter censorship.

    [20] Tran Thi Liên, 'Henriette Bui: the narrative of Vietnam's first woman doctor,' in Viet-Nam Exposé, ed. G. Bousquet and P. Brocheux, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2002, pp. 278–309, pp. 279–280.

    [21] Lessard, 'Organisons-nous!,' p. 179.

    [22] Lefèvre, Métisse Blanche, pp. 30, 40, 93 and 170.

    [23] Dubreuil, 'De la condition des Chinois et de leur rôle économique en Indo-Chine,' p. 43. Along these lines, Bao Jiemin has written about the persistence of some Chinese customs in Thailand, generations after the families that brought those customs have otherwise assimilated into Thai society. See 'Sino-Thai ethnic identity: married daughters of China and daughters-in-law of Thailand,' in Alternate Identities: The Chinese of Contemporary Thailand, ed. Chee Kiong and Chan Kwok Bun, Singapore: Brill Academic Publishers, 2001, pp. 271–98, p. 292.

    [24] Louis Eugène Louvet, La Cochinchine religieuse, vol. 1, Paris: E. Leroux, 1885, p. 55.

    [25] Dr. Ch. M.E. Bailly, 'Maternité de Cholon (Cochinchine),' in Annales d'hygiène et de médecine coloniales, vol. 6 (1903):469–76, p. 470.

    [26] R. Montel, 'La surveillance de la natalité indigène,' in Annales d'hygiène et de médecine coloniales, vol. 11 (1908):72–85, p. 84.

    [27] Paul Doumer, Situation de l'Indo-Chine (1897–1901), vol. II, Saigon, 1908, pp. 109–11.

    [28] A. Petiton, 'La Cochinchine française,' in Bulletin de la Société de géographie de Lille, vol. 2, nos. 4, 5, 6 (Jan–Feb–Mar 1883):3–72, p. 25.

    [29] James Dyer Ball reported that in China a father was similarly likely to leave out his daughters if asked to count his children. Things Chinese: Or, Notes Connected with China, London: Murray, 1904, p. 763.

    [30] Dr. Paul Roux, 'La prostituée japonaise au Tonkin,' in Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris, vol. 6 (1905):203–10.

    [31] A. Landes, 'Renseignements sur la prostitution et le commerce d'enfants à Cholon,' in Excursions et reconnaissances, vol. 2, no. 4 (1880):145–47, p. 145.

    [32] Annick Guénel, 'Prostitution, maladies vénériennes et médecine coloniale au Vietnam de la conquête française à la guerre d'indépendance,' in Vietnamese Society in Transition, ed. John Kleinen, Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 2001, pp. 233–49, p. 236; Dr. A. Kermorgant, 'Aperçu sur les maladies vénériennes dans les colonies françaises,' in Annales d'hygiène et de médecine coloniales, vol. 6 (1903):428–60, p. 451.

    [33] On human trafficking in the colony, see Micheline Lessard, '"Cet ignoble traffic": the kidnapping and sale of Vietnamese women and children in French colonial Indochina, 1873–1935,' in French Colonial History, vol. 10 (2009):1–34. See also Marie-Corine Rodriguez, '"L'administration de la prostitution": réglementation et contrôle social au Vietnam pendant la période coloniale,' in Vietnamese Society in Transition, ed. John Kleinen, Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 2001, pp. 223–33, pp. 226–28. And see M.J. Silvestre, 'Rapport sur l'esclavage,' in Excursions et reconnaissances, vol. 2, no. 4 (1880):95–144;, p. 138.

    [34] Henri Mouhot, Travels in Siam, Cambodia and Laos, 1858–1860, vol. 1, New York: Oxford, 1992, p. 227.

    [35] Silvestre, 'Rapport sur l'esclavage,' p. 138.

    [36] James George Scott, France and Tongking, London: T.F. Unwin, 1885, pp. 33 & 280.

    [37] Dr. Charles-édouard Hocquard, Une campagne au Tonkin, ed. Philippe Papin, Paris: arléa, 1999 (1892), p. 88. Hocquard blamed Chinese Black Flag irregulars for the violence, but Chinese businessmen in Hanoi may not have been so sure. Albert Challan de Belval confirmed tight security in the Chinese district, in Au Tonkin, 1884–1885: notes, souvenirs et impressions, Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1904, p. 56.

    [38] Hocquard, Une campagne au Tonkin, p. 71, on the children of mixed background.

    [39] Julia Waters reads Marguerite Duras' Indochinese novels as revealing the power wielded by Chinese men in the colony, and suggests that racism in the colony was not unidirectional. '"Cholen, la capital chinoise de l'Indochine française": rereading Marguerite Duras's (Indo) Chinese Novels,' in France and 'Indochina': Cultural Representations, ed. Kathryn Robson and Jennifer Yee, New York: Lexington, 2005, pp. 179–91, pp. 182–85.

    [40] Landes, 'Renseignements sur la prostitution et le commerce d'enfants à Cholon,' pp. 145–47.

    [41] Le Mékong, 17 Sept. 1896, cited in E.H. Parker, 'The French in Indochina,' in The Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Review, vol. III, nos 5&6 (Oriental University Institute, Jan–Apr 1897):77–95, p. 83.

    [42] Eliacin Luro, Le pays d'Annam: étude sur l'organisation politique et sociale des annamites, Paris, Leroux, 1878, p. 33; Louis Eugène Louvet, La Cochinchine religieuse, vol. 1, Paris: E. Leroux, 1885, p. 116. Louvet's estimate suggested that most of the 200,000 Minh Hương were in Cochinchina. On the evolving racial politics of statistics in French colonies, see Saada, Les enfants de la colonie, pp. 51–54. On the gendered politics of statistics, see Warring, 'Intimate and sexual relations,' pp. 91–94.

    [43] Charles Lemire, 'Les cinq pays de l'Indo-Chine française et le Siam: localités-ports,' in Revue de l'Anjou, n.s., vol. 38 (1899):419–54, p. 448.

    [44] 'Les jeux, l'opium et la prostitution à Cholon,' in L'Opinion, Saigon, 5 June 1908, p. 2.

    [45] Alain Marsot, The Chinese Community in Vietnam Under the French, San Francisco: Edwin Mellen, 1993, p. 97.

    [46] CAOM, GGI dossier 22464: 19 July 1905 report by Gendarme PAGET; 22 July 1905 follow-up.

    [47] 'Propagande anti-française,' in L'Opinion, Saigon, 13 Feb. 1914, p. 3.

    [48] L. de Grammont, 'Notice sur la Basse-Cochinchine,' in Bulletin de la Société de géographie, ser. 5, vol. 7 (Jan–June 1864):5–54, p. 25.

    [49] Scott, France and Tongking, p. 247.

    [50] A.J. Gouin, 'Le costume annamite,' in Bulletin de la Société de géographie, ser. 7, vol. 12 (1891):242–51, p. 248.

    [51] Hocquard, Une campagne au Tonkin, p. 68; Marie Joseph Francis Garnier, Voyage d'exploration en Indo-Chine, Paris: Hachette, 1885, p. 425; Jules Ferry, Le Tonkin et la mère-patrie: témoignages et documents, Paris: Victor-Havard, 1890, p. 257; Henri Philippe Marie d'Orléans, Autour du Tonkin, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1894, p. 14; Paul d'Enjoy, Tập-truyện (récits à la bouche), Paris: C. Mendel, 1897, p. 141.

    [52] Noé Filoz, Cambodge et Siam: voyage et séjour aux ruines des monuments kmers, Paris: Gedalge jeune, 1896, p. 17.

    [53] Léon de Tinseau, 'Notes de voyage sur Saïgon et la Cochinchine française,' in Journal des demoiselles, vol. 51, no. 9 (Sept. 1883):225–32, p. 230.

    [54] Tinseau, 'Notes de voyage, suite et fin,' in Journal des demoiselles, vol. 51, no. 10 (Oct. 1883):250–59, p. 258.

    [55] Lemire, 'Les cinq pays,' p. 448.

    [56] Henri Ludovic Jammes, Au pays annamite, Paris: A. Challamel, 1898, p. 219.

    [57] Marcel Monnier, Le tour d'Asie, Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1899, p. 25

    [58] Auguste Haussmann, Voyage en Chine, Cochinchine, Inde et Malaisie, Paris: G. Olivier, 1848, p. 251. See also Susan Mann, 'Myths of Asian womanhood,' in Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 59, no. 4 (Nov. 2000):835–62, pp. 857–58.

    [59] Avenir du Tonkin, Hanoi, 14 Jan. 1888, p. 5.

    [60] CAOM, GGI dossier 22450: 9 Sept. 1904 letter from Resident Superior of Tonkin to Governor General.

    [61] A.T. Mondière, 'Sur la monographie de la femme de la Cochinchine, c'est à dire de la femme annamite, de la femme cambodgienne, de la femme chinoise et de la femme minh-huong,' in Bulletins de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris, 3e série, vol. 3, 1880, séance du 4 mars 1880, pp. 250–61.

    [62] CAOM, GGI dossier 22525: 22 April 1891 letter from M. Brière to the Residents et vice-Residents of Tonkin. Lessard also discusses this letter and the practice of disguising Vietnamese girls as Chinese in 'Cet ignoble trafic,' pp. 11–14.

    [63] Édouard Cailleux, La question Chinoise aux états-Unis et dans les possessions des puissances Européennes,' Paris: thèse pour le doctorat en droit, 1898, pp. 106–07. Also see Dubreuil, 'De la condition des Chinois et de leur rôle économique en Indo-Chine,' p. 62.

    [64] Dubreuil, 'De la condition des Chinois et de leur rôle économique en Indo-Chine,' pp. 13–14.

    [65] My thanks to the anonymous reviewer for Intersections who pointed out this possibility.

    [66] J. Devallée, 'La main-d'oeuvre en Indo-Chine,' Nancy: thèse pour le doctorat en droit, 1905, p. 54. See also Raoul Postel, L'Extrême Orient, Cochinchine, Annam, Tong-Kin, Paris: Degorce-Cadot, 1882, p. 40; Emile Levasseur, La population française, Paris; Rousseau, 1892, p. 441; Bineteau, 'Cochinchine Française,' p. 58.

    [67] Lessard, 'Organisons-nous!,' p. 184.

    [68] Firpo, 'Lost boys,' pp. 206–07; Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power, pp. 15–16.

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