On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West

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Psychology Press, 2001 - Social Science - 230 pages
In this major new book, leading cultural thinker Ien Ang engages with urgent questions of identity in an age of globalisation and diaspora. The starting point for Ang's discussion is the experience of visiting Taiwan. Ang, a person of Chinese descent, born in Indonesia and raised in the Netherlands, found herself "faced with an almost insurmountable difficulty" - surrounded by people who expected her to speak to them in Chinese. She writes: "It was the beginning of an almost decade-long engagement with the predicaments of `Chineseness' in diaspora. In Taiwan I was different because I couldn't speak Chinese; in the West I was different because I looked Chinese". From this autobiographical beginning, Ang goes on to reflect upon tensions between `Asia' and `the West' at a national and global level, and to consider the disparate meanings of `Chineseness' in the contemporary world. She offers a critique of the increasingly aggressive construction of a global Chineseness, and challenges Western tendencies to equate `Chinese' with `Asian' identity. Ang then turns to `the West', exploring the paradox of Australia's identity as a `Western' country in the Asian region, and tracing Australia's uneasy relationship with its Asian neighbours, from the White Australia policy to contemporary multicultural society. Finally, Ang draws together her discussion of `Asia' and `the West' to consider the social and intellectual space of the `in-between', arguing for a theorising not of `difference' but of `togetherness' in contemporary societies.
 

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Contents

between Asian and the West in complicated entanglement
1
Beyond Asia deconstructing diaspora
19
On not speaking Chinese diasporic identification and postmodern ethnicity
21
Can one say no to Chineseness? Pushing the limits of the diasporic paradigm
37
Indonesia on my mind diaspora the Internet and the struggle for hybridity
52
Undoing diaspora questioning global Chineseness in the era of globalization
75
Beyond the West negotiating multiculturalism
93
Multiculturalism in crisis the new politics of race and national identity in Australia
95
The curse of the smile ambivalence and the Asian woman in Australian multiculturalism
138
Identity blues rescuing cosmopolitanism in the era of globalization
150
Beyond identity living hybridities
161
Localglobal negotiations doing cultural studies at the crossroads
163
Im a feminist but other women and postnational identities
177
Conclusion togetherindifference the uses and abuses of hybridity
193
Notes
202
Bibliography
211

Asians in Australia a contradiction in terms?
112
Racialspatial anxiety Asia in the psychogeography of Australian whiteness
126

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About the author (2001)

Ien Ang is Professor of Cultural Studies and Director of the Institute for Cultural Studies Research at the University of Western Sydney, Nepean. She is the author of a number of books, including Watching Dallas (1985), Desperately Seeking the Audience (1991) and Living Room Wars (1995)

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