on Chineseness (notes)

The problem of “Chineseness” as a historical construction; the problematic implication of “real” versus “fake” Chinese; hybridity as a productive rather than empty space… 

[Rey Chow, “On Chineseness”; Ien Ang, “On Not Speaking Chinese”]

“"the West"is what ‘peoples in the so-called non-West have to refer to and rely on so as to construct their own cultural and historical identity.’”

“Even though it takes the benevolent form of valorizing and idealizing a projected collective ‘difference,’ such racism is, to use the words of Ang, ‘reinforced precisely by pinning down people to their ethnic identity, by marking them as ethnic.’”

“A critical diasporic cultural politics should privilege neither host country nor (real or imaginary) homeland, but precisely keep a creative tension between ‘where you’re from’ and ‘where you’re at’…. ‘It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately, to the notion that something can also be gained.’”

“’China’, the mythic homeland, will then stop being the absolute norm for ‘Chineseness’ against which all other Chinese cultures of the diaspora are measured. Instead, Chineseness becomes an open signifier”

“This postmodern ethnicity…must be constantly (re)invented and (re)negotiated”

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