Strangers on the Western Front

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Harvard University Press, Feb 28, 2011 - History - 366 pages
This is a fresh work of history that crosses thematic boundaries: Chinese history, WWI history, world history, migration and labor history. It recovers the lost story of 140,000 Chinese workers, men mostly from the Northern Chinese province of Shandong, who were recruited by the British and French governments to support their fight against the Germans during WWI. These workers later were also “imported” to the US and Canada as those countries joined the war and felt the need for additional labor. The work is based on a decade of archival research in China, Taiwan, France, Germany, the US, Canada, and Britain. It sheds light on these long-forgotten workers, who were instrumental in the Allied efforts that resulted in a defeat of Germany. Yet the persistent racism they encountered in the West, and ultimately the erasure of their contribution both by the countries they served and the Chinese elites who recruited them for the purpose, raises the question of how power determines who is included and excluded from the historical record.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
China Britain France and the Laborers as Soldiers Strategy
10
2 The Recruitment and Europe an Odyssey of the Men for Britain and France
38
3 The Hidden History of the Secret Canadian Path
55
4 Work
80
5 Treatment and Perceptions
103
Chinese Lives in Europe
126
7 American Soldiers and Chinese Laborers
152
10 A Fusion of Civilizations
220
Conclusion
240
Huimin Contract with the French Government
245
British Contract
251
Notes
253
Selected Glossary
305
Selected Bibliography
307
Acknowledgments
325

8 The Association Men and Chinese Laborers
174
Students as Teachers and Vice Versa
198

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About the author (2011)

Xu Guoqi is Professor of History at the University of Hong Kong.

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