This article examines a specific set of literary texts, both in English and Chinese, produced by a few Chinatown leaders and some Chinese writers as they protested against the anti-Chinese sentiments and the Chinese Exclusion Act in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century. Those Chinese-authored texts resisted the homogenizing view of the Chinese people by the Westerners, advocating a cosmopolitan class above race, and used commercial amity to assert the Chinese people's cosmopolitan right. The moral compass of the Chinese merchants in those literary stories also puts forward an alternative model of global capitalism that evolved from the traditional Chinese idea of tianxia. Reading these texts can help us build a more historicized view of Chineseness and the Chinese worldview prior to the rise of state-centered nationalisms in modern China, on the one hand, and understand the epistemological framework and limit of modern nationalisms, on the other.

You do not currently have access to this content.