Law and History Review


Marriage and Mestizaje, Chinese and Mexican: Constitutional Interpretation and Resistance in Sonora, 1921–1935

Kif Augustine-Adams c1

On a hopeful September day in 1912, Gim Pon, a twenty-five year old Chinese man from Canton, boarded the steamship Siberia in Hong Kong harbor to sail west across the Pacific. The Siberia docked briefly in San Francisco, but Gim Pon's destination, and that of seven fellow Chinese travelers, was not California but the northern Mexican state of Sonora. In the early twentieth century, thousands of men like Gim Pon immigrated to Mexico, boosting the Chinese population there from slightly over 1,000 in 1895 to more than 24,000 in the mid-1920s. Sonora, which hugs Arizona at the United States/Mexico border, was a popular destination, and hosted the largest Chinese population of any Mexican state through the 1920s. Once in Sonora, Gim Pon adapted to life in Mexico: he changed his name to Francisco Gim, learned Spanish, and became naturalized as a Mexican citizen on February 27, 1920. Most importantly, he formed a family with Julia Delgado.

(Online publication May 09 2011)

Kif Augustine-Adams is Charles E. Jones Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University <>. For comments on various drafts, I thank participants in the 53rd International Congress of Americanists; XV International Congress of European Historians of Latin America (AHILA); 2008 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women; XXVI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association; Brigham Young University Law School Faculty Workshop series; and the editors and anonymous reviewers of Law and History Review. For research assistance and access to archival materials, I particularly thank Linda Arnold, Laura Rojas Hernández, José Guadalupe Esquivel Valenzuela and the Casa de la Cultura Jurídica en Sonora: Lic. Martín Fernando Torres Caravantes, Director; Lic. Francisco Martínez Buitimea, Manager, Archives and Historical Investigations; and Lic. Adrían Alberto Pérez Rubal, Manager, Library and Information Access.