Escaping the Burdens of Chineseness

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    Although Singapore currently makes it impossible in the male descent line, departing from Chineseness has been a common phenomenon in Southeast Asian history. In modern nationalist times the paucity of alternative terms in Southeast Asian and European language has made the overused Cina a problematic label, impossible to detach from a very large northern neighbour and from many cultural stereotypes. Naturally many local-born and culturally hybrid citizens have sought to escape from it. The best documented mass case is the nineteenth century Philippines. Peranakan Indonesians have not found it so easy to shed this inappropriate label even though it has occasionally been wielded as a death threat. 'Outsider' status also has its uses. This presentation will be chiefly concerned with the obstacles for Peranakan in departing from Chineseness. It will argue nevertheless that many Indonesians are quietly succeeding in taking this path.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-296
    JournalAsian Ethnicity
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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