The Emergence and Evolution of Chinese Associations in Trinidad
Fiona Ann Rajkumar
To date very little has been written on the existence of Chinese associations in Trinidad, with Trevor Millett’s text The Chinese in Trinidad and Gregory Quan Kep’s Caribbean Studies “The Impact of the Various Chinese Associations in Trinidad” giving some insight into the area. This paper was particularly inspired by the bicentenary celebration of Chinese arrival to Trinidad in 2006. These celebrations generated greater interest in the ethnic group and attempts were made by the National Library, and other organizations and individuals to document the community’s development in Trinidad. This atmosphere also allowed for the conducting of interviews with individuals who in the past were hesitant to divulge information to the wider public.
Based upon the existing evidence it is clear that the Chinese in Trinidad formed a large number of groups and associations during the first half of the twentieth century. The aim of this paper is therefore twofold. Firstly, it will elucidate some of the earliest Chinese associations that existed in Trinidad as recorded in the Trinidad and Tobago Year Books during the first half of the twentieth century. Some of their roles and responsibilities will be examined, while particular emphasis will be placed on the economic role played by the associations as the Chinese established themselves as a trading minority in the country. Secondly, the paper will explore the ways in which these ethnic associations formed by the Chinese mirrored the changes taking place within the wider Chinese community during the second half of the twentieth century and into the early years of the twenty-first century, as this ethnic enclave sought to carve a niche for itself in the context of Trinidad.