China Abroad

Travels, Subjects, Spaces


Edited by Elaine Yee Lin Ho and Julia Kuehn

ISBN : 978-962-209-945-6

Literary Studies

March 2009

304 pages, 6″ x 9″, 7 b&w illus.

  • HK$395.00

Also available in Paperback HK$225.00

China Abroad: Travels, Subjects, Spaces is a pioneering work which brings together accounts of the journey and cross-cultural experiences of Chinese travelers in the late nineteenth century with those of more recent migrants and diasporic Chinese subjects in a number of global locations including twentieth-century Hong Kong. The book seeks to address how movements across cultures shape the different ways in which China and Chineseness have been imagined and represented since the beginning of the last century. In so doing, it aims to offer an overview of the debate about Chineseness as it has emerged in different global locations.

Through a variety of primary sources in different media, the individual essays discuss different approaches to the nation-diaspora paradigm. Set against the representations of this paradigm is the broader backdrop of the history of an “abroad” shaped by the actual encounter between Chinese and non-Chinese forces, by the transplantation of people, money, labor, and ideas, by frustration and exploitation, and by the ever present attempt to transcend a hierarchy of unequal ethnicities, cultures, and languages to full participatory, polyphonic equality. The collection coheres through its focus on the common interest in “China Abroad” but it is also of particular interest through the variety of critical approaches it adopts.

The collection will be of interest to literary and cultural studies scholars, historians, and sociologists with an interest in twentieth-century and current cross-cultural issues and, specifically, China-West Studies.

Elaine Yee Lin Ho is associate professor in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong. She has published book monographs on Timothy Mo (2000) and Anita Desai (2006), and many articles on anglophone world literatures and Hong Kong film, literature, and culture. Her current research interest is in literature and literary cultures at the intersections of Hong Kong, mainland China, and the West. Julia Kuehn is assistant professor in English at the University of Hong Kong, where her research and teaching interests are in nineteenth-century literature and travel writing. Her publications include Glorious Vulgarity: Marie Corelli’s Feminine Sublime in a Popular Context, and the co-edited collections A Century of Travels in China: Critical Essays on Travel Writing from the 1840s to the 1940s and Travel Writing, Form and Empire: The Poetics and Politics of Mobility.

China Abroad is a valuable contribution to the field of transnational cultural studies of China. Its chapters weave together a richly textured palimpsest of competing discourses, images, representations, and dreams of what it means to be Chinese from the late nineteenth century up to the present. The careful study of these complex images in film, literature, media, and the internet generated from transversal spaces such as that of mainland intellectuals abroad, the former British colony of Hong Kong, and the Chinese diaspora from Southeast Asia, America, Europe, and Australia challenges hegemonic accounts of Chinese culture. The sheer diversity and heterogeneity of ‘Chinese-ness’ presented here functions as a conscientious corrective to the contemporary revival of Confucianism as the spirit of East Asian capitalism.” —Pheng Cheah, Professor, Department of Rhetoric, University of California at Berkeley

China Abroad has two remarkable strengths: first, it rethinks the formation and territorialization of the Chinese diaspora, in all its complexities and differences. Second, it resituates debates about nation and diaspora to show their close interdependence: China Abroad’s great achievement is to think them through together at once, showing how one cannot be understood without the other. These two analyses make the book both innovative and compelling.” —Robert J. C. Young, Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature, New York University