Emma TengFeb 23, 2014
Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, 1842-1943
University of California Press 2013
Emma Teng's new book explores the discourses about Eurasian identity, and the lived experiences of Eurasian people, in China, Hong Kong, and the US between the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 and the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943. Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, 1842-1943 (University of California Press, 2013) situates this history within a broader frame of competing scientific, cultural, and political notions of racial hybridity as a detrimental or positive force, as a transformative power leading to racial degeneration or eugenic improvement. Placing special emphasis on the importance of self-narratives of some of the main figures of Teng's account, Eurasian is built around the stories of families who lived through and contributed to early debates over Chinese-Western intermarriage in the US and China, tracing the histories of many of these families through the experiences of their children and the transformations they help shape, and understanding these stories alongside larger social and political discourses of Eurasian identity. It is a fascinating, sensitively wrought, and carefully argued book that both engages and shifts debates in the many fields that intersect in this modern history of Eurasian identity and its many voices, and offers a polyvocal accounting of the many ways that Eurasian identity was claimed by individuals and communities from British Columbia to Hong Kong.