Brokering Belonging traces several generations of Chinese 'brokers,' the ethnic leaders who acted as intermediaries between the Chinese and Anglo worlds of Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Before the Second World War, many Chinese-Canadians were illegal immigrants, and most could not vote. Brokers therefore played an informal but necessary role as representatives of their community to the larger society.
Brokering Belonging explores how brokerage allowed Chinese Canadians to wield considerable political influence during a period of anti-Asian sentiment and exclusion, leading scholars of immigration to characterize all Asians as a diligent, patient 'model minority'. Drawing on new Chinese language evidence, Lisa Rose Mar's investigation of dramatic power struggles shows how Chinese immigrants became significant players in race relations and had an impact on policies that affected all Canadians and Americans.