When considering Asians in Latin America, Brazil is better known for its sizable per Japanese population than its Chinese diaspora; until the late twentieth century comparatively few Chinese people lived there. But numbers do not tell the whole story. As Ana Paulina Lee convincingly argues in her elegantly written book Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation and Memory, ideas about China and Chinese people played an outsized role in Brazilian debates about freedom, race, and nation. If Brazil's Chinese population was small, fantasies and fears about Chineseness loomed large and mattered politically. Lee brings the intellectual traditions of Asian American studies and cultural studies into dialogue with Brazilian archives and historiography and situates them within debates about transpacific connections between Asia and the Americas. She explores how Brazilian cultural production about Chineseness—in novels, plays, print media, and visual culture—fabricated the notion of Chinese people as a “yellow race”; she argues that...

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