Shelly ChanDec 24, 2021
Modern China in the Age of Global Migration
Duke University Press Books 2018
Diaspora’s Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration (Duke University Press, 2018) by Shelly Chan provides a broad historical study of how the mass migration of more than twenty million Chinese overseas influenced China’s politics, economics, and culture. Chan develops the concept of “diaspora moments” – a series of recurring disjunctions in which migrant temporalities come into tension with local, national, and global ones – to map the multiple historical geographies in which the Chinese homeland and diaspora emerge. Chan describes several distinct moments, including the lifting of the Qing emigration ban in 1893 and the legacy of indentured Chinese migration to the Americas, intellectual debates in the 1920s and 1930s about whether Chinese emigration in the South China Seas (Nanyang) and Southeast Asia constituted colonization and whether Confucianism should be the basis for a modern Chinese identity. She also looks at the intersection of gender, returns to China of displaced Chinese from Southeast Asia, and Communist campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s. Adopting a transnational frame, Chan narrates Chinese history through a reconceptualization of diaspora to show how mass migration helped establish China as a nation-state within a global system.
Shelly Chan is an associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, specializing in modern China and the Chinese diaspora.
Shatrunjay Mall is a PhD candidate at the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He works on transnational Asian history, and his dissertation explores intellectual, political, and cultural intersections and affinities that emerged between Indian anti-colonialism and imperial Japan in the twentieth century.