1st Edition

On Not Speaking Chinese Living Between Asia and the West

By Ien Ang Copyright 2001
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    Preface and Acknowledgments. Introduction: Between Asia and the West Beyond Asia: Deconstructing Diaspora 1. On Not Speaking Chinese - Postmodern Ethnicity and the Politics of Diaspora 2. Can One Say No to the Chineseness? - Pushing the Limits of Diasporic Paradigm 3. Indonesia on My Mind - Diaspora, Internet and the Struggle for Hybridity 4. Undoing Diaspora - Questioning Global Chineseness Beyond the West: Negotiating Multiculturalism 5. Multiculturalism in Crisis - The New Politics of Race and National Identity in Australia 6. Asians and Australians - A Contradiction in Terms? 7. Racial/Spatial Anxeity - 'Asia' in the Psycho-Geography of Australian Whiteness 8. The Curse of the Smile - Ambivalence and the Asian Woman in Multicultural Australia 9. Identity Blues - Rescuing Cosmopolitanism in the Era of Globalization Beyond Identity 10. Local/Global Negotiations - Doing Cultural Studies at the Crossroads 11. I'm a Feminist but... - 'Other Women' and Postnational Identities 12. Conclusion: Together in Difference - The Uses and Abuses of Hybridity Notes. Bibliography. Index.


    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)

    'Clearly written and well-argued . . . this book makes a valuable contribution, not only to current debates in the field of cultural studies and identity politics, but also to the international debate on the Chinese diaspora and Chinese identity.' - Chinese Information