Spring 2009

Race, Empire, and Transnationalism: Chinese Diasporic Communities in the World

Listed in: History, as HIST-21


Richard T. Chu (Section 01)


(US or AS) How does a study of the Chinese diasporic communities in Southeast Asia and the United States help us understand the questions of ethnic identity formation, construction, and negotiation? More specifically, how does the study of their history and experiences force us to rethink the concepts of “China” and “Chinese-ness”? These are the main questions that we seek to answer in this introductory course about the history of the Chinese diaspora. We will begin by looking at historiographical issues such as what constitutes “China” and “Chineseness.” Then we will look into the history of selected Chinese diasporic communities in the world, specifically those in Southeast Asia, North America, and Australia. Throughout the course we will examine how these diasporic people and their families manipulate and transgress attempts by dominant groups to control their bodies and resources. Other questions to be discussed are: What caused people from China to move, and to where? What forms of discrimination and control did they experience? How do their experiences and histories deepen our understanding of “race,” “empire,” and “transnationalism”? Themes to be included are ethnicity, race, imperialism, gender, nationalism, transnationalism, and globalization. Two class meetings per week. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Five College Professor Chu.