Un/Becoming Chinese: Huaqiao, the Non-Perishable Sojourner Reinvented, and Alterity of Chineseness
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation explores the construction of huaqiao, the Chinese sojourner, and its representation in modern Chinese literature. By interrogating and problematizing the concepts of Chineseness and huaqiao, this project argues that ¡°huaqiao¡± is essentially a misnomer warranting further examination at various levels. While unpacking and decoding the term ¡°huaqiao¡± and simultaneously delineating its historical inception and configurations, it critiques how ¡°huaqiao,¡± as a product of the Chineseness discourse, has become the unifying category used to label ¡°overseas Chinese.¡± Since the term was originally created, and is still being used to disseminate, reinforce, and perpetuate, a monolithic and essentialist Chinese identity, one cannot overlook or underestimate its entanglement with the construction and articulations of Chineseness. However, as this whole project contends, even though huaqiao has been construed as a displaced Chinese subject, at its inception it is already an identity in alterity. The sojourner¡&hibar;s trajectories across times and places have acquired various definitions and meanings, making huaqiao as much a contested category as that of ¡°Chineseness.¡± Chapter One examines the discourse of Chineseness and how it has spawned the term ¡°huaqiao¡± at different historical junctures and cultural spaces. It further engages in debates with various scholars to seek alternatives for critical interventions. Chapters Two explores a body of Nanyang (the South Seas) narratives produced by modern Chinese writers who sojourned in Nanyang between the 1920s and 1940s. It demonstrates how these writers, through travelogues, essays, memoirs, and fictions, construct Nanyang (and) huaqiao vis-¨¤-vis the discourses of Chineseness, colonialism, and tropicality. Chapter Three examines mainly Eileen Chang¡&hibar;s essays and novellas by focusing on an aspect rarely explored before, namely, how Chang uses the figures of (Nanyang) huaqiao to explore the construction of racial and cultural identities pertaining to notions of Chineseness. Chapter Four explores how the concept of racial and ethnic degeneration is projected onto the Nanyang huaqiao in Ding Ling¡&hibar;s ¡°Miss Sophia¡&hibar;s Diary.¡± It argues that the construction of native Chinese female subjectivity is foremost predicated upon the construction of a Nanyang huaqiao body conceived as deviant and pathological.