Race, Beauty, and Politics in Chinese American Festivals

A History of National and Transnational Identity Construction

By Jinzhao Li

© 2016 – Routledge

224 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415871181
pub: 2016-05-15

About the Book

Through multi-site, multi-media, and multi-language ethnographic and historical research, the author demonstrates that during the twentieth century, as the mainstream definition of Americanness changed from "whiteness" to "assimilation" and to "ethnic diversity," the meaning of being Chinese evolved. Jinzhao Li demonstrates the shifts that occurred from non-assimilation in the 1910s and Americanization in the 1930s to exoticization in the 1950s–1960s, pan-ethnicization in the 1970s, and localization in the 1990s and 2000s. She focuses on the transformation and self-representation of the Chinese American community through its biggest annual events. Different from many contemporary studies of U.S. ethnic festivals and beauty contests that adopt a white/non-white analytical binary, this book proposes a colonial settler-indigenous triangular model in understanding U.S. racial relations and ethnic self-representation.

Table of Contents


A New Perspective for Chinese American Studies

Chapter 1

Modernity, Race, and the Female Body in pre-WWII Hawai‘i: A Chinese Encounter

Chapter 2

The Making of an Ethnic Spectacle: the Narcissus Festival and Queen Pageant in 1949

Chapter 3

“Exotic America”: The Narcissus Queen Displaying Hawai‘i to the World in the 1950s and 1960s

Chapter 4

Becoming “Pan-Chinese”: Identity Conflicts and Reformation in the 1970s

Chapter 5

Reclaiming “Local”: Meeting the Challenge of Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement in the

1990s and 2000s

Chapter 6

Showcasing America and Hawai‘i in Ancestors’ Land: the 2002 Narcissus Goodwill Tour to



A Colonial-Settler-Indigenous Triangular Model

About the Author

Jinzhao Li is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Sociology at Beijing Foreign Studies University. She received her PhD at the University of Hawai‘i.

About the Series

Studies in Asian Americans

Reconceptualizing Culture, History, Politics

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General