José Lee-Borges sheds light on the history of the Chinese in Puerto Rico


A post by Peter Jordens.

In El Nuevo Día, Jorge Duany reviews Los chinos en Puerto Rico [The Chinese in Puerto Rico] by author José Lee-Borges (San Juan: Ediciones Callejón, 2015). . Here is a translated excerpt:

The Chinese in Puerto Rico is a work of meticulous and thorough investigation. The author sheds light on an unexplored chapter in Puerto Rican history: the importation of Chinese detainees and their key contribution to the construction of the Central Highway and other manual labor projects. Lee-Borges expertly combines various primary information sources, including criminal records, newspaper articles and census documents, to bare the life and work of Chinese immigrants and their imprint on the formation of cultural identities and national imaginaries in Puerto Rico. The main contribution of this research is a more comprehensive, nuanced and humane perspective on immigration to the island from the late 19th century to the present day. […] I heartily recommend reading the book.

Read the complete book review (in Spanish) at:

The book’s page contains two additional endorsements:

This is a smart and heartfelt look at what it meant to be Chinese in Puerto Rico […] [The author has rescued] another authentic piece of our colonial puzzle. — Gervasio L. García

José Lee, through his ingenuity to collect and analyze these testimonies from the past, has produced an excellent book that expands and deepens our historical knowledge and that makes us look forward to more work of the same caliber from him. — Fernando Picó

José Lee-Borges is professor of History and the Humanities at several Puerto Rican universities, including Universidad de Puerto Rico, Universidad Interamericana and Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez.

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