In The Chinese in Vancouver, Wing Chung Ng captures the fascinating story of the city’s Chinese in their search for identity. He juxtaposes the cultural positions of different generations of Chinese immigrants and their Canadian-born descendants and unveils the ongoing struggle over the definition of being Chinese. It is an engrossing story about cultural identity in the context of migration and settlement, where the influence of the native land and the appeal of the host city continued to impinge on the consciousness of the ethnic Chinese.
The Chinese in Canada is long overdue in view of the many previous studies that tend to describe Chinese people as victims of racial prejudice and discrimination and Chinese identity a matter of Western cultural hegemony. Ng’s account gives the Chinese people their own voice and shows that the Chinese in Vancouver had much to say and often disagreed about the meaning of being Chinese.
In his concluding chapter, Ng looks beyond the Canadian context by engaging in a comparative discussion of the experiences of ethnic Chinese elsewhere in the diaspora. References to the Chinese in various Southeast Asian countries and the U.S. force a rethinking of “Chineseness.” He ends with reflections about Vancouver’s Chinese community since 1980.
- 2000, Short-listed - Vancouver Book Award, City of Vancouver
Theoretically informed, concise, and solidly documented, Ng’s work is not just about the turbulent and fascinating history of Vancouver’s Chinese community. It also shows just how much the Chinese had to say and to debate among themselves about who and what defined them and their community as Chinese.
... this detailed account includes considerable information on acculturation, socio-economic status, community activities both social and business, and problems associated with race... Writing is clear, organization coherent, details richly documented and gently tied to prior history of mainland China so the book has special value to historians.
Ng’s analysis allows for a poignant human dimension to frame the inevitable passing of the old-timers’ generation, and also explains why these organizations continues to exist ... This book is a welcome addition to studies of the Chinese in Vancouver, as this community continues to thrive on Canada’s west coast.
2 Early Settlement and the Contours of Identity
3 Renewed Immigration and Cultural Redefinition
4 Local-Born Chinese and the Challenge to an Immigrant Discourse
5 Old-Timers, Public Rituals, and the Resilience of Traditional Organizations
6 Negotiating Identities between Two Worlds, 1945-70
7 Constructing Chineseness in the Multicultural Arena
8 Beyond a Conclusion
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