This first film in the Ancestors in the Americas series by Loni Ding, one the foremost filmmakers documenting the Asian American experience, sets the stage for a global understanding of the Asian diaspora. Focusing mainly on the Chinese, and to a lesser extent South Asians and Filipinos, this film documents how the immigration of Asians to the Americas was linked to the transnational movement of capital, goods, and people during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The film makes it very clear that Asian workers were brought to labor in the New World as the African slave trade was in demise. Needed for labor that Europeans and various South Americans were unwilling to perform, Chinese, South Asians, and Filipinos were taken, often against their will or unaware of the conditions they would encounter, to the United States, Cuba, Peru, and Africa. They were brought to work the sugar cane fields of Cuba and Hawaii, the guano pits of Peru, and later, the various developing industries in the American West.
Coolies, Sailors, and Settlers: Voyage to the New World, Part I of Ancestors in Americas film series