Invasions of other tribes in other lands, settled or nomadic, were a fairly common practice in Europe. As armies belonging to the clans and tribes that controlled the larger areas became even larger, with weapons growing more abundant and destructive, so did a people’s regulations and policies, whether verbal or written, drew lines across women’s bodies. Women who bore children of another people, were either regarded as higher in status or lower in status, or in some cases, put to death. There was a great variety of differences, of course. As empires such as Ottoman and Mongol, controlled many more areas and had access to many different peoples, there was mixing. But before the rise of nation-states, the control of cultures was not as important as the control of money and resources. In nation-states, market economy and the flow of money began to take more prominent roles in how people engaged each other and influenced how nations would benefit or not, from the mixing of cultures.
Of course there were policies and laws early in some areas of the Asian continent, that began to show up when certain “outsiders” were seen to have controlled more of the flow of money and were seen to be taking more advantage than the locals, of status and money because of the visible aspects of influence and control (usually the wielding of violence in order to control). In places in certain areas of China, “fraternization with darker people” was sometimes forbidden. “Darker people” were defined, in this instance of early Christian era societies across the so-called Asian continent, usually referred to the more frequent traders from Persia, Africa, South Asia or the Pacific Islands. During periods in the 18th through the early 20th century, there were periods where friendships, business deals, and certainly marriages between different “outside” people were forbidden, or at least frowned upon. At other times, when locals flourished financially and their clout as “cosmopolitan” or “sophisticated” were raised when working with foreign cultures, relations with outsiders of certain kinds (usually white Europeans, Australians, and Americans) were seen as fruitful. Between different Asian peoples themselves, the same rules and/or “silent understandings” of how one can and should relate with foreigners also applied.
During the heyday of Empires, there were codes of relations but there was also less need or desire to control different others. In colonial times, the imperial modes continued but became more codified with increasing and more static regulations and laws to control the other, and through violence or threats of violence (military and police institutions). These forms influenced how locals and foreigners related to each other. Marrying others in secret, running away with a lover (what western Christians called “eloping”) became commonplace, just as much as refusing and suffering with longing during these times. Stories and journals, diaries and plays became riddled increasingly with such stories that were and still are, a strong aspect of culture. One thinks of many stories in Asian cultures that express these heartbreaking realities that thwart the willingness to love across color and community boundaries. In western culture, Romeo and Juliet would be a fairly well-known example, as much as West Side Story.
Parallel, of course, to the relations, are how a community would relate with the offspring, the children of these “mixed” peoples. If it is illegal or forbidden, it would not stop those who would desire beyond what their own community and/or culture would order. Even in communities that forbade mixed relations and viewed the children of such relations as abuse-able and downgrade-able beings, there were always those that thought these rules and regulations were not right and they would protect by any means, those friends and relations who were mixed, or were parents of mixed relations, even protecting at the threat of losing their lives or being punished.
In every era, the relation between what was happening in the world outside the boundaries of one’s own families, or one’s own village or town, or one’s own nation, influenced how strongly a community would hold onto or change its views of mixed-race/mixed-nation children. From the 18th through the early 20th century, the strongest influence has been the reality of contact with colonial white countries and how Asian and Pacific nations (and others) would relate. It was, and is, never uniform. Some elites would feel different from other elites. Some villages would feel different from the next village, from the next city to the next prefecture and region, all sometimes contradictory. What rises in influence is the aspect of power. Even if one believes the opposite of one’s “own” community as far as mixed relations and how mixed-race children should be treated, perhaps one does not have the power to express it (fear of being jailed, ridiculed, exiled, losing one’s livelihood, or being beaten/killed, etc.). In this sense, personal and communal power are always in struggle. In the 20th century, the influence of human rights, for instance has become strong and well-known. However, since human rights cannot be enforced, the struggles of being mixed, or being with a person or people of another kind, are always an ongoing battle. In many non-western nations, including in most Asian countries, human rights is a foreign concept that has nothing to do with reality. Most of us know that people can believe in human rights but other’s rights are continually violated.
To end, I want to touch upon a couple, out of many, reasonings that people use to push forward or push back in relation to this idea. Firstly, the label/word “mixing” is already a problem, in that it assumes that there are people who are singular and pure in origin and identity. People who believe this will seldom wish to change their minds about their beliefs, just as much there are those who think “everyone is mixed anyway.” The assumption that one’s own “racial” lineage has not been disrupted is a problem, since the idea of race is fairly new, and has not much reality in relation to history.