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Socializing Chineseness: Cambodia's Ethnic Chinese Communities as a Method

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Item Summary

Title:Socializing Chineseness: Cambodia's Ethnic Chinese Communities as a Method
Authors:Chen, Shih-Lun
Ethnic Identity
Social Organizations
Date Issued:Aug 2015
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2015]
Abstract:The formation and measurement of ethnic identity has always been at the center of debate, due to its intellectual complexity and methodological diversity. Lacking clear-cut cultural boundaries and quantifiable measurement, defining the internal qualities of “Chineseness” is ambiguous, especially with regard to cross-generational, transnational and multicultural identities. This project provides a substantive approach to understanding the formation and operating reality of Chinese ethnic identities. It considers membership systems, network structures, and daily practices of social organization within ethnic Chinese communities in Cambodia. Through three stages of ethnological field survey, from institutional and organizational to personal levels, this project seeks to fill the gap in our understanding of how the ethnic Chinese community developed in Cambodia. It also serves as a new methodological exploration to the study of Chinese ethnic identity and the ethnological significance of daily social engagement as a pragmatic means to practicing Chineseness and ethnic networking.
This dissertation presents the ethno-historical legacy of the community structure and the current sub-ethnic diversity of the Chinese community in Cambodia. It then explores the ethnic organizational structures and members’ daily social engagements inside three major sub-ethnic groups: Sino-Khmer, Mainland Chinese, and Taiwanese. These ethnological observations will be used to explain the inner cultural heterogeneity and organizational segregation of sub-ethnic group networks beyond Cambodia’s domestic boundary. The dissertation argues that the multi-framed nature of Chineseness is cultivated through members’ daily social interactions with one another. Consciously or unconsciously, the diverse social interactions between members from various Chinese sub-ethnic groups are adapted and fostered during the membership arbitration process. This two-way recognition can be seen as a socialization process of performative Chineseness for members in different social statuses to “fit in, adapt, adjust, assimilate, reject, or resist” within the system and the community. This process occurs when an individual tries to earn the acceptance of traditional ethnic organizations, or elder organizational leaders try to recruit and attract new members. The diversified organizational structures and segregated transnational networks of each sub-Chinese group in Cambodia provides a unique case for understanding different types of Chineseness as an alternative to the Western-centric conceptualizations of unified cultural identity.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Anthropology

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