In Schooling Diaspora: Women, Education, and the Overseas Chinese in British Malaya and Singapore, 1850s to 1960s
(Oxford University Press, 2018), Karen Teoh relates the history of English and Chinese girls' schools that overseas Chinese founded and attended from the 1850s to the 1960s in British Malaya and Singapore. She examines the strategies of missionaries, colonial authorities, and Chinese reformists and revolutionaries for educating girls, as well as the impact that this education had on identity formation among overseas Chinese women and larger society. These schools would help to produce what society ‘needed’, in the form of better wives and mothers, or workers and citizens of developing nation-states, while ensuring compliance with desired ideals. Chinese women in diaspora found that failing to conform to any number of state priorities could lead to social disapproval, marginalization, or even outright deportation.
Through vivid oral histories, and by bridging Chinese and Southeast Asian history, British imperialism, gender, and the history of education, Schooling Diaspora
shows how these diasporic women contributed to the development of a new figure: the educated transnational Chinese woman.
Karen M. Teoh
is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Asian Studies Program at Stonehill College (Massachusetts). Her research focuses on Chinese migration and diaspora from the 17th century to the present, and examines how changing notions of gender roles, ethnicity, and cultural hybridity have shaped the identities of groups and individuals.
Tyler Yank is a senior doctoral candidate in History at McGill University (Montreal, Canada). Her work explores bonded women and British Empire in the western Indian Ocean World.