Asian Diasporas

Asian Diasporas: Cultures, Indentity, Representation

Robbie B. H. Goh
Shawn Wong
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 214
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  • Book Info
    Asian Diasporas
    Book Description:

    Asian diasporas are all too often seen in terms of settlement problems in a host nation, where the focus is on issues of crime, housing, employment, racism and related concerns. The essays in this volume view Asian diasporic movements in the context of globalization and global citizenship, in which multiple cultural allegiances, influences and claims together create complex negotiations of identity.Examining a range of cultural documents through which such negotiations are conducted — literature and other forms of writing, media, popular culture, urban spaces, military inscriptions, and so on — the essays in this volume explore the meanings and experiences involved in the two major Asian diasporic movements, those of South and East Asia.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-009-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction The Culture of Asian Diasporas: Integrating/Interrogating (Im)migration, Habitus, Textuality
    (pp. 1-14)
    Robbie B. H. Goh

    The claim that Asian diasporas are cultural phenomena would in all likelihood meet little or no objection—except, of course, for the problem of what precisely is meant by ʺcultureʺ? In what ways can an understanding of cultural influences, transformations, and representations affect the study of those major transnational human movements that are the foci of diaspora studies? What kinds of relationships can be posited between the ʺhardʺ data of migration statistics and histories, housing and employment analyses of migrant workers, and the like, on the one hand; and the ʺsoftʺ data of literature written by diasporic writers, representations of...

  5. 1 The Uncertain Configurations of a Politics of Location: The Intersection of Postcolonial, Feminist, and Nationalist Discourses in Understanding Chinese Diasporic Communities
    (pp. 15-32)
    Ann Brooks

    Global shifts in the movement of peoples have led to the destruction of old nations and the formation of new ones. It is maintained in this chapter that emerging diasporic movements and communities have the potential for ʺsurfacingʺ a range of new cultural and ethnic identities. It is further maintained that such new identities carry new conceptions of subjectivity and political subjecthood and require a rethinking of traditional analytical frameworks. Diasporic movements and their theorization can be seen to advance debates in this area. Within this chapter Chinese diasporic communities in Singapore, Australia, and Britain provide a focus for analysis...

  6. 2 Diaspora and Violence: Cultural/Spatial Production, Abjection, and Exchange
    (pp. 33-52)
    Robbie B. H. Goh

    Episode 1: On 5 August 2001 in Glasgow, 22-year-old Firsat Yildiz, a Turkish Kurd asylum seeker, was stabbed to death by attackers who (according to a companion of the victim) ʺhurled racist insults … in Scottish accentsʺ (Lee 2001b: 15). The incident took place in the Sighthill housing estate, where the government had housed 3,500 asylum seekers in ten run-down high-rise blocks, and which had become a target of the resentment of the neighboring Scottish communities.

    Episode 2: On 23 June 2001, in Burnley, Lancashire, the attack on a Pakistani taxi driver by a group of white youths armed with...

  7. 3 Theorizing Diasporas: Three Types of Consciousness
    (pp. 53-76)
    Regina Lee

    This chapter draws upon the current literature on diasporas, in order to advance the field by highlighting the diversity of that community, and by moving beyond conventional models of diaspora that see them as either culturally dislocated or ideologically ʺfixedʺ — that is, methods that are culturally essentialist. To begin with, I take my notion of diaspora from Ien Ang, who defines them as ʺtransnational, spatially and temporally sprawling sociocultural formations of people, creating imagined communities whose blurred and fluctuating boundaries are sustained by real and/or symbolic ties to some original ʹhomelandʹʺ (2001: 25). This chapter seeks to theorize the...

  8. 4 Cultural Citizenship in Diaspora: A Study of Chinese Australia
    (pp. 77-94)
    Wenche Ommundsen

    I have my passport, and no doubt soon I shall have my identity card. I have done jury service. I am sent my voting card at election time, and my tax demand once a year. These rights and obligations confirm my status as a member of the state. What more do I want to know? Whatʹs the problem?

    The problem, of course, is that this legal status as citizen does not feel as though it has anything much to do with my sense of self. It tells me what I am, not who I am. (James Donald, ʺThe Citizen and...

  9. 5 Mimics without Menace: Interrogating Hybridity in Bharati Mukherjeeʹs Fiction
    (pp. 95-106)
    Rebecca Sultana

    Bharati Mukherjeeʹs attempt to become an American writer plays a significant part in securing her place in the American literary canon (Mukherjee 1992: xv). Writing about this acculturation process, Mukherjee says: ʺI have learned that in this era of massive diasporic movements, honorable survival requires resilience, curiosity, and compassion, a letting go of rigid ideals about the purity of inherited cultureʺ (1997: 30). Mukherjee, therefore, distinguishes between two kinds of immigrants in terms of their assimilation into the Western metropolitan center and according to their resistance to adaptation or assimilation into such culture. Mukherjeeʹs characters, diasporic or not, appropriate the...

  10. 6 The Shadow of Diasporic (Auto) Biography: The Traveling-Self in Michael Ondaatjeʹs Running in the Family
    (pp. 107-116)
    Carol E. Leon

    In postcolonial and postmodern discourses, diaspora comes to signal the liberating aspects of interrelationships and a resistance to the monologic thought and oppression that colonialism represents (Childs and Williams 1997: 210). Works by Homi Bhabha and Vijay Mishra, for instance, celebrate this social formation of displacement. Diasporic spaces are often likened to border zones or borderlines, indicating overlaps of histories and narratives. For Bhabha, the ʺinterstitial passageʺ opposes hierarchy by opening up possibilities for negation and hybridity (1994: 4). Mishra highlights the ʺvibrant kinds of interactionʺ that take place within diasporic communities (1995: 147). It could be said that the...

  11. 7 Translating Indian Culture from Diaspora
    (pp. 117-130)
    Alessandro Monti and Rajeshwar Mittapalli

    National archives are the sites in which communal identities are defined and discourses of resistance negotiated. This definition highlights the possibility of considering alternative viewpoints, external foci that modify the meaning of the archive itself. However, one should not forget what Ahmad (1999) writes apropos of the institutional archive, considered to be the product of a process of cultural and hegemonic globalization. According to him, the archive shifts and moves values from periphery to center and endorses authenticity by including ʺnon-European immigrant intelligentsia in structures of metropolitan hegemonyʺ (Ahmad 1999: 92). Given such premises, one should argue the notion of...

  12. 8 Claiming Diaspora in Shirley Geok-lin Limʹs Joss & Gold
    (pp. 131-148)
    Jeffrey F. L. Partridge

    At a recent conference in Singapore, an Australian scholar challenged my approach to Shirley Geok-lin Limʹs novel Joss & Gold on the basis that my Asian-American framework might be inappropriate for a ʺdiasporicʺ author such as Lim. Reading Lim as diasporic rather than American is, in many respects, a more ʺnaturalʺ position. Though a citizen of the United States, Lim aligns herself closely in her creative and academic writing with a diasporic identity. Lim is a Malaysian-born academic and creative writer committed personally and professionally to retaining and fostering ties with Southeast Asia. Much of her poetry and short stories and...

  13. 9 Writing the Chinese and Southeast Asian Diasporas in Russell Leongʹs Phoenix Eyes
    (pp. 149-160)
    Walter S. H. Lim

    The age of globalization, that familiar if not somewhat overdetermined appellative used to describe the conditions of late twentieth and early twenty-first century (post)modernity, appears to have caused a degree of anxiety for some writers and critics involved in the ideological production of Asian American literature. This anxiety is registered in the critical debates on the nature of the relationship between the so-called ʺclaiming Americaʺ and ʺclaiming diasporaʺ projects. There is, at least on one level, the sense that the increasing push to adopt a diasporic perspective may generate a denationalizing impulse that is in fact inimical to the political...

  14. 10 Diasporic Communities and Identity Politics: Containing the Political
    (pp. 161-176)
    Ryan Bishop and John Phillips

    What marks the diasporic experience as diasporic? What shapes diasporic communities in ways unique to them? Perhaps the answer can be found in the violence of community formation, the traumas that led to migration and the terrors of carving out a space in a new country and culture, the inevitable rending wrought by forced evacuations from and insertions into the complex webbing of geopolitical sites, the tearing of roots from the earthʹs surface coupled with the tenuous act of transplanting. The patterns evoked here contain synchronic similarities worth noting, but the diachronic differences — i.e., the specificities of events —...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 177-184)
  16. References
    (pp. 185-198)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 199-202)
  18. Index
    (pp. 203-208)