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Chinese Overseas

Chinese Overseas: Comparative Cultural Issues

Tan Chee-Beng
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Chinese Overseas
    Book Description:

    This book examines issues of cultural change and identity construction of Chinese overseas, as well as other important issues such as Chinese and non-Chinese relations, and cultural and economic performance. It offers a perspective of understanding Chinese overseas in nation-states and beyond, in a global context which the author describes as the Chinese ethnological field. The author's many years of research on cultural change and Chinese ethnicity in Southeast Asia enables him to describe vividly the effects of localization — the process of becoming local and identifying with the locals — on Chinese ethnicity and cultural identities. This informative and theoretically interesting book enables readers to have a deeper understanding of the issue of Chinese and Chinese-ness in the diaspora.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-071-5
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Note on Transcription
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    This book offers a comparative perspective on the anthropological study of Chinese overseas. There are numerous works on Chinese of specific countries and a few works that compare Chinese of two or three countries. However, insufficient attention has been paid to using ethnographic knowledge of the Chinese of specific communities for discussion in a wider context, which I call the Chinese ethnological field. This book provides a comparative perspective of studying Chinese worldwide. Anthropologists study particular localities or regions, but their discussion can be related to similar studies elsewhere. There are ethnic Chinese all over the world, and a study...

  6. 1 Chinese Ethnological Field: Anthropological Studies of Chinese Communities Worldwide
    (pp. 9-30)

    Anthropological studies of Chinese communities began in China. The beginning of anthropological and ethnological studies there can be traced to the 1920s, developing considerably in the 1930s and 1940s (cf. Guldin 1994; Wang Jianmin 1997). After 1949, for well-known reasons, these studies came to be defined narrowly as the study of minorities and were restricted by the dominant Marxist ideology. The development of anthropology in China became rather hindered, as the discipline was deprived of the chance of catching up with development outside mainland China. Foreign anthropologists had no access to fieldwork in China. They thus turned to studying Chinese...

  7. 2 Acculturation, Ethnicity and Ethnic Chinese
    (pp. 31-68)

    As a result of migration overseas, especially during the last two centuries, Chinese now reside all over the world. Chinese have acquired many nationalities, although some overseas emigrants and their descendants have remained virtually ‘stateless’. They have all been generally referred to as ‘Overseas Chinese’, in contrast to the Chinese population in China. Although historically correct, the label ‘Overseas Chinese’ is now outdated, inaccurate and, in fact, rather offensive to most of the people so labeled who do not take China as a point of reference anymore and have themselves become citizens of the country of their birth. Most Chinese...

  8. 3 Chinese Migration, Localization and the Production of Baba Culture
    (pp. 69-90)

    In this chapter, I use the case of the Baba of Melaka, Malaysia, to examine more closely the production of culture. In the discussion on acculturation in Chapter 2, we paid attention to the major economic and political factors in the larger society that influenced cultural change and ethnic identification. However, the localization of ethnic Chinese does not mean that they are passively being localized. This chapter emphasizes individuals as active agents in reproducing and reinventing culture. My research interest on the Baba began in 1977, when I carried out a year of fieldwork in Melaka. I have continued to...

  9. 4 Chinese Identities in Malaysia
    (pp. 91-110)

    The Chinese comprise 28% of the citizens of Malaysia (Department of Statistics 1995, 39). They are a heterogeneous category of people. All of them identify themselves as ‘Chinese’ or Huaren in Mandarin (Tenglang in Hokkien, Tohngyahn in Cantonese, etc.), but they also identify with their respective speech-groups such as Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese, Teochiu, Hailam (Hainanese), Hokchiu, Kongsai, Henghua, Hockchia, and others. All of them bear the historical continuity of identities that are, however, transformed by their localization experience in Malaysia. In fact, some of them have become so culturally localized that they acquire new local Chinese identities.

    This chapter describes...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 Ethnic Chinese: Language, Nationality and Identity
    (pp. 111-134)

    In Chapter 2, I have discussed briefly language and localization. In this chapter, I shall further explore the issue of language, nationality and identity. The ethnic Chinese belong to different nationalities, and have adjusted socially and culturally to their respective local communities and national societies. In fact, they speak the dominant language or languages of their place of residence, although many still speak one or more Chinese languages. Even then, the Chinese languages that they speak may have been acculturated by the dominant local languages. It is thus interesting to examine the relationship between language and linguistic change, and relate...

  12. 6 Ethnic Chinese and Ethnic Relations: Some Economic Explanations
    (pp. 135-172)

    Ethnic Chinese in different parts of the world have to adjust to living in different ecological and political conditions. They have to adjust to living with people of other ethnic origins, especially those who are politically dominant. Thus the study of ethnic relations between ethnic Chinese and the indigenous/majority people¹ will throw light on the dynamics of group relations. In other words, comparison of ethnic Chinese experiences in the Chinese ethnological field can tell us much more about ethnic relations involving different types of Chinese than studying the ethnic relations in one country only. In fact, in many places, especially...

  13. 7 Culture and Economic Performance with Special Reference to the Chinese in Southeast Asia
    (pp. 173-214)

    The achievement of the Chinese in Southeast Asia in commerce has led to the stereotype that all Chinese are good in business. The economic achievement of the four newly industrialized countries — South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore (known as the four little dragons) — has also led to the myth that Confucianism has something to do with good economic performance. This myth is popular especially among the Chinese, for it is pointed out that Japan (which has had remarkable economic achievement since the Second World War), like Korea, also has Confucian influence. What is Confucian in relation to economic achievement...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 215-222)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-254)
  16. Index
    (pp. 255-260)