The Chinese diaspora

From China to Thailand to the USA

Authored by: Jiemin Bao

Routledge Handbook of the Chinese Diaspora

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415600569
eBook ISBN: 9780203100387
Adobe ISBN: 9781136230967


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Until recently, the ethnic Chinese often have been depicted as having assimilated well into Thai society. The adaptation of the Chinese Thai was seen as a “natural” progressive process. It was assumed that, as time passed, their “Chineseness” would diminish (Skinner 1973a; 1973b; 1964; 1958; 1957). However, drawing upon my research among Chinese Thai in Bangkok, Thailand, and the San Francisco Bay Area in the USA, I demonstrate that identity is flexible, inconsistent, and multiple rather than fixed, evolutionary, and singular. By situating the Chinese Thai in a time-specific political, economic, and cultural context, and by paying special attention to agency and structural constraints, I map out their transnational migration and identity formation in relation to learning the Chinese language and everyday gendered practices.

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