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The 10th Virtual Earth Seminar

Border-crossing and Imagined Landscape: The Negotiation of Chinese Ethnicity and Identity in Transnational Asia
越境と仮想空間-トランスナショナルアジアに生きる華人のエスニシティ・アイデンティティの交錯 -

Date and Time: January. 23 [Sat.] 13:30-18:00

Venue: Kyodaikaikan. Room 212
場所:京大会館 212号室

※This seminar will be held in English.

13:30 - 13: 40 Introduction: Shigeru Araki, WANG Liulan

13:40 - 14:40
Yumi Kitamura 北村由美(CSEAS, Kyoto Univ.)
"Tracing Chinese Indonesians in the Linguistic Landscape of Jakarta"

14:40 - 15:40
Wang Liulan 王柳蘭 (CIAS, Kyoto Univ./JSPS Research Fellow)
"Han/Hui Ethnic Relations and Becoming “Overland Chinese” in the Thai/ Myanmar Borderland"

15:40 - 16:00 ― Break time -

16:00 – 17:00
Liu Hong 劉宏 (University of Manchester; Visiting Research Fellow, CSEAS, Kyoto University)
"China's Asian Discourses and the Search for a Cosmopolitan Future"

17:00 - 18:00
Summary discussion:
Wang Ke 王柯 (Kobe University)


Over many centuries the Chinese abroad have been characterized by a high degree of mobility throughout Asia. In the changing academic paradigms, the mobility of Chinese has been analyzed from an assimilational perspective to a diaspora-centric and transnational one, which places Chinese migration in the framework of cross-border networking instead of the nation-state framework. Despite their differences in approach, however, neither of the approaches seriously questions the identity and position of the Chinese in the changing historical contexts of their lives in Asia, while few have been done on the complex relations between migrants and space.

Migration implies more than just a geographical movement of people from one region to another; it also entails the making of migrants’ cultural perceptions of mobility and their own understanding and imagination of spaces and places.How have Chinese migrants perceived the spaces and environments around them? How have they experienced (new) spaces and conceptualized area in their cultural and social imaginations? What does the process of migration mean for the migrants in each local culture and how does it influence their ethnicity and identity?

This seminar will discuss Chinese migration and imagined landscape in transnational Asia in historical and contemporary contexts. Presentations will be delivered by two researchers in CIAS and CSEAS at Kyoto University and a guest speaker, Prof. Liu Hong from Manchester University/visiting research fellow at CSEAS. Prof. Wang Ke of Kobe University will serve as a commentator for the seminar.




"Tracing Chinese Indonesians in the Linguistic Landscape of Jakarta"
Yumi Kitamura

This presentation explores the linguistic landscape of Glodok, the Chinatown of Jakarta as well as other areas in Jakarta and tries to trace both continuity and changes in the life of Chinese Indonesians.

Chinatowns in many countries are the places where we could easily sense both the ethnicity and identity of Chinese Overseas. The characteristics of Chinatowns are seen in the variety of stores, the ethnicity of shop owners and customers, as well as the languages used on the sings and billboards. In the case of Indonesia, however, after Soeharto took over the power in 1965, due to the assimilation policy enforced by him, the display of “Chinese” culture in the public sphere was limited to a great degree.

The use of Chinese characters in public space was also prohibited in 1988. With the fall of Soeharto in 1998 and the rise of China’s presence starting around the same time, Chinese Indonesians are now in the phase of reinvention and re-modification of “Chinese” culture in the public sphere. This presentation examines the reflection of these social changes on Chinese Indonesia by looking at Jakarta’s landscape.

"Han/Hui Ethnic Relations and Becoming “Overland Chinese” in the Thai/ Myanmar Borderland"
Wang Liulan

This paper elucidates how Yunnanese migrants in northern Thailand establish identities and form social spaces by remolding and creating social boundaries as they interact with others. The different socio-cultural and political backgrounds of Han and Muslim Yunnanese have led them to adopt different migratory patterns and adaptive strategies in Thailand, the host country. Especially, the process by which Yunnanese Muslims have adapted and built networks within Thailand is emphasized. Due to the disparity in migratory experience and past memory between the two groups, their senses of belonging to and boundary construction of a “homeland” are different. Yunnanese social spaces are constructed through a sense of ethnicity, such as Han or Muslim; however, each individual migrant also seeks to establish a sense of belonging to a “homeland” , based on different ideas of “being Chinese,” which were fostered by their migratory experiences from Yunnan to Thailand. In the migrant’s view, living spaces are always renovated and reconstructed by means of multiple logics, which are based, in turn, on the different living conditions they have experienced.

"China’s Asian Discourses and the Search for a Cosmopolitan Future"
Liu Hong

A great deal has been written in China, Japan and the West about China’s Asian discourses at the turn of the 20th century, which were often characterized by an unrelenting quest for modernity and nationalism at the time of China’s decline (both as a civilization and an empire). These studies tend to conceptualize Chinese views of Asia in the context of Sino-Japanese political and intellectual interactions and focus on the spatial comparisons of the two countries in their respective views of Asia (including Asianism). This paper raises three inter-related questions that are centrally relevant to China’s Asian discourses over the past century but have received little scholarly attention. 1) What was the place, if any, of cosmopolitanism in the Chinese imaginations of Asia? How did cultural and political cosmopolitanisms co-exist with China’s emerging nationalism and the presentation of Asia as a radically constructed “other” to the West? 2) How did ethnicity and migration shape Chinese views of Asia in general and Nanyang in particular? What was the role of Japan in the making of China’s new understanding of Southeast Asia which was the home to the majority of diasporic Chinese? 3) What have been the continuities, if any, in China’s discourses of Asia at the turns of the 20th and 21st centuries, respectively? What does this temporal comparison tell us about the nature and characteristics of regional and ethnic identities and the extensive flows of ideas in Transnational Asia?

In a modest attempt to partially address these complex questions, this paper will examine articulations and imaginations of Asia through two magazines. The first is Magazine of the Society for the Studies of Commerce in the Nanyang Archipelago (《南洋群島商業研究會雜誌》), the first Chinese-language magazine devoted to Nanyang (Southeast Asia) which was published in Tokyo between 1910 and 1912 by a group of Chinese residing in Japan and distributed in both China and Southeast Asia. The second is Dushu (《读书》(読書)),one of the most influential magazines in post-reform China which publishes a large number of essays pertaining to Asia, especially under the editorship of Wang Hui and Huang Ping (1996-2007). These magazines and the relevant discussions on Asia serve as a window through which the changing characteristics of Asian discourses in modern China and their intriguing links with cosmopolitanisms could be unveiled.