"Rich Huaqiao" and "Poor Qiaoxiang "?: Reconsidering the Relationship between Overseas Chinese and Their Hometowns
(Graduate School of Arts and Letters)
Paper short abstract:
In this presentation, I reconsider stereotyping view about “rich overseas Chinese” and “poor their hometowns” and present a new perspective for its study.
Paper long abstract:
Research about qiaoxiang, the hometowns of overseas Chinese, from Chen Da at the beginning of the 20th Century, to the fairly recent Oxfeld, has been conducted from a consistent viewpoint. That is "rich overseas Chinese" and "poor their hometowns". The basis for this schema was probably the recognition of "overseas being wealthy" and "China being poor". However, it is obvious that this idea does not apply today. At the Pearl River delta from 2005 at the latest, if not signalling a complete turnaround, many examples indicate a need for the reconsideration of this schema. For example, projects from maintenance of infrastructure to the reconstruction of lineage ancestral halls have been completed using regional government funds and donations from successful local people. Is it not reasonable to say that up until now those kinds of projects could not have been maintained without donations from overseas Chinese? Additionally, overseas Chinese who frequently returned home until the end of the 1990's stopped doing so because of a comparatively low standard of living with respect to commodity prices. Formerly, wasn't their ideal to work hard abroad in their young days and then live out their old age at hometown in comfort? On the other hand, most of them never miss returning home and worshipping their ancestors at the Qingmingjie. I hope to reconsider such a stereotyping view about overseas Chinese and their hometowns and present a new perspective for its study, all the while being careful to avoid falling into the pit of postmodernism.
Reframing the discourse space around 'studies on overseas Chinese': toward an alternative anthropological approach