Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation is primarily focused on the mechanisms employed by the South Fujianese, one the most prominent regional sub-groups in China, to embed themselves, and reshape local ecologies in three early modern Southeast Asian port cities—Hội An, Batavia, and Manila, during the period 1550 to 1850. The operations of native-place associations, land purchases, and temple (kelenteng) construction, along with annual ritual and the economic interdependence created through daily supplies, could all become key embedding mechanisms. The South Fujianese adapted broadly with their different embedding mechanisms, politically, economically, socially, and militarily, to their host societies. They contributed much to the rise of Hội An as a port, and in this area the operations of native-place associations and land purchases were two prominent and effective mechanisms. Through these two mechanisms, the migrants finally turned the host society into a permanant home. The South Fujianese in Batavia under the agent system partially transplanted themselves as a small society. Within that community, they had the chance to develop their legal and annual practices, and avoided most severe conflicts with the powers in their host society. By practicing different rites, and emphasizing different festivals as well as common celebrations, or overlapping ritual practices on important days, different kelenteng actually worked together to “transplant” a “traditional” Chinese belief system and ritual structures. The mechanism that the South Fujianese developed in Manila, expressed in the supply of basic daily utilities and currency exchanges that maintained a concentrated market, was not effective enough in that the South Fujianese were easily suspected and, in turn, viewed as aggressive and intractable groups. Only after a stronger mechanism was nourished did the relations between the South Fujianese and the Spaniards escape the cycle of massacre and rebuilding. This process can be characterized as “structural reproduction.” This dissertation provides an historical explanation of the presence of Chinese immigrants in early modern Southeast Asia, and attempts to reach a more comprehensive understanding of Southeast Asian history through adding the spectrum of immigrants.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Steven Miles

Committee Members

Alexander Dubé, Christine Johnson, Zhao Ma, Lori Watt,


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/t351-h713

Available for download on Saturday, December 18, 2027