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Reading Chinese Transnationalisms

Reading Chinese Transnationalisms: Society, Literature, Film

Maria N. Ng
Philip Holden
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Reading Chinese Transnationalisms
    Book Description:

    Reading Chinese Transnationalisms responds to the growing interest in transnational cultural studies by examining Chinese transnationalism from a variety of perspectives. In interrogating social practices and literary and filmic texts which frequently cross national borders in imagining Chineseness, the contributors to this volume also challenge received notions of Chinese transnationalism, opening up new perspectives on the topic. The structure of the book is clearly subdivided into sections on society, literature, and films for quick reference, and each essay is written in accessible language without sacrificing intellectual rigor and critical relevance. The international list of contributors and the wide-ranging subjects they address make Reading Chinese Transnationalisms a unique work in its field. This volume will appeal to all with an interest in Chinese transnationalism, and in particular those who come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds in the humanities and social science.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-386-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Maria N. Ng and Philip Holden

    Transnationalism, and particularly Chinese transnationalism, is very much the concept of the moment in anthropology, literary, and cultural studies. Gayatri Spivak’s 1999 declaration in A Critique of Postcolonial Reason that she had made a transition “from colonial discourse studies to transnational cultural studies” (x) is now paradigmatic for a generation of intellectuals. While postcolonial studies still has resolute and, in our opinion, thoroughly justified defenders, transnationalism as an area of inquiry has certain advantages for contemporary scholarship.² First, it dispenses with both the “colonial” and the “post” to which “postcolonial” is always, if uneasily, tied.³ Transnational studies are neither bound...

  5. Society

    • 2 Hokkien—Philippines Familial Transnationalism, 1949–1975
      (pp. 17-36)
      Edgar Wickberg

      One way to think broadly about transnationalism is to define it as the regular movement across national boundaries of persons, money, goods, and ideas. The literature on Chinese transnationalism that fits this definition has often described transnational networks of diasporic Chinese business or other organizations which link groups of Chinese to each other or to China. In recent years, much of this literature has been specifically about Chinese business networks that facilitate the investments of globalized Chinese in the modern development of their “home,” or ancestral localities in south China. In such studies, the ultimate research interest is economic. Culture...

    • 3 On Eating Chinese: Diasporic Agency and the Chinese Canadian Restaurant Menu
      (pp. 37-62)
      Lily Cho

      Almost nobody does it anymore. If you take the slower road south down the middle of Alberta from Edmonton to Calgary, following the old rail line, you will cut across Main Street, Olds, Alberta, where you might stop for lunch at the A & J Family Restaurant (see Figure 3.1). In 1915, you would have stepped across the railway platform (the railway stopped running a long time ago but the station is still there, empty and abandoned) and ordered a hot lunch at what was then known simply as the Public Lunch Counter (see Figure 3.2). There is a long...

    • 4 Putting the Nation Back into the Transnational: Chinese Self-Fashioning and Discipline in Singapore
      (pp. 63-74)
      Philip Holden

      It is a short, rather grainy black and white video, a series of flickering images that most Singaporeans of my age or older are very familiar with. The scene is a press conference on August 7, 1965, hastily called by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to announce Singapore’s independence from the Malaysian Federation, which it had entered only two years previously. Lee sits at a coffee table, surrounded by other members of his government, and the camera alternates fitfully between a long shot and an almost overly intimate closeup. When Lee speaks, he is barely audible, and his voice...

  6. Literature

    • 5 Trans-East Asian Literature: Language and Displacement in Hong Ying, Hikaru Okuizumi, and Yi Mun-yol
      (pp. 77-88)
      Kristjana Gunnars

      In her book The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarry works from the thesis that, as she says in her introduction, “Physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it, bringing about an immediate reversion to a state anterior to language, to the sounds and cries a human being makes before language is learned” (4). The subsequent text of the book goes to great lengths to show how language and pain in the body interrelate. Her argument is that the whole possibility of narrative is destroyed by the undergoing of pain. But immediately upon returning to a state of...

    • 6 Cultural and Culinary Ambivalence in Sara Chin, Evelina Galang, and Yoko Tawada
      (pp. 89-102)
      Petra Fachinger

      In “Notes from a Fragmented Daughter,”¹ Elena Tajima Creef, the “daughter of a World War II Japanese war bride who met and married [Elena’s] North Carolinan hillbilly father one fine day in 1949” (83) addresses her sense of cultural fragmentation, a product of her dual cultural heritage, as well as her exoticization by European Americans. I am prefacing my article with an excerpt from this text, as it links “Asian” food to female “Asian” ethnicity. It also addresses cultural ambivalence. It is these two issues that I explore in three short narratives: one by a Chinese American, one by a...

    • 7 “The Tao is Up”: Intertextuality and Cultural Dialogue in Tripmaster Monkey
      (pp. 103-116)
      Jane Parish Yang

      Many critics, noting the dialogic quality inherent in ethnic texts, have referred to Mikhail Bakhtin’s ideas on dialogism in their analyses of Maxine Hong Kingston’s works.² Bakhtin understood dialogism to occur when a privileged belief system or view is “relativized [and] de-privileged” by the appearance of an opposing viewpoint.³ Although “not a dialogue in the narrative sense ... rather it is a dialogue between points of view.”⁴ The result of such a clash is what Bakhtin terms “double-voiced discourse” in which “[a] potential dialogue is embedded.”⁵ This mixed speech is what he further calls “double-accented, double-styled hybrid construction,”⁶ which occurs...

    • 8 Overseas Chinese Literature: A Proposal for Clarification
      (pp. 117-128)
      Laifong Leung

      The expression Overseas Chinese (haiwai huaren) here is understood as referring to people of Chinese ancestry living outside mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao. The term Overseas Chinese literature, haiwai huaren wenxue, contains two notions: Overseas Chinese-language literature (haiwai huawen wenxue) and Overseas non-Chinese-language literature (haiwai fei huawen wenxue). Despite the fact that both kinds of literature are written by people of Chinese descent overseas, they receive entirely different treatment by scholars in mainland China. The former has received much attention since 1979, with the introduction of well-known North American Overseas Chinese writers such as Bai Xianyong (b. 1937)...

  7. Film

    • 9 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: (Re)packaging Chinas and Selling the Hybridized Culture in an Age of Transnationalism
      (pp. 131-142)
      Jennifer W. Jay

      In 2001, numerous international awards garnered by Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, together with its resounding box office success, marked an age of transnationalism and globalization in Chinese film culture and identity.¹ When observed as the flow of culture and the dynamics of the world economy, the concept of globalization embraces the inclusionist ideals of cross-culturalism and boundary crossing.² The dominance of Western culture inevitably makes Westernization a part of the transnationalizing process, as seen in the making and reception of the film, variously described as a Chinese fairy tale, a tragic love story, and the auteur’s boyhood fantasy...

    • 10 Father Knows Best: Reading Sexuality in Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet and Chay Yew’s Porcelain
      (pp. 143-160)
      January Lim

      In “Corning Out into the Global System,” Mark Chiang states that the closet “signifies the deviation from ethnic identity that must be covered up” in The Wedding Banquet (379).² For Chiang, it is clear that “all of the younger generation of Chinese/Taiwanese in the United States are engaged in the masquerade of authenticity insofar as none of them are capable of enacting the forms of tradition that the older generation continually seeks to re-create” (379). Drawing upon Chiang’s idea that the closet is “a function of ethnicity as well as sexuality,” I want to explore further the trope of the...

    • 11 The Cinema of Tsai Ming-liang: A Modernist Genealogy
      (pp. 161-172)
      Mark Betz

      The cinema of the Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang arguably has been neglected by Western scholars in favor of work by other East Asian filmmakers, including those working within the context of the New Taiwanese cinema of which Tsai might be considered tangentially a part. This chapter seeks to go some way in redressing the balance and aims to stimulate further interest in Tsai within the Western academic arena of work on East Asian cinema.¹ My approach to Tsai’s films derives from a position of expertise in postwar European art cinema. For me, what is striking about his visual style and...

    • 12 Sentimental Returns: On the Uses of the Everyday in the Recent Films of Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar-wai
      (pp. 173-188)
      Rey Chow

      The everyday: an open, empty category, one that allows critics to fill it with critical agendas as they please. This is why both its defenders and its detractors can use it to stake their political claims, either as the bedrock of reality, the ground zero of cultural representation, or as a misleading set of appearances concealing ideological exploitation, a collective false consciousness. For these reasons, it is perhaps less interesting simply to unravel the argumentative pros and cons around the everyday as such than to consider specific uses of the everyday in representational practices, which in this essay I shall...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 189-210)
  9. Works Cited
    (pp. 211-230)
  10. Index
    (pp. 231-238)