Australian-born Youth: Constructing Chineseness from Afar

Year: 2011

Author: Wang, Yujia

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Drawing on a doctoral research project on Australian-born Chinese (ABC) youth in a high-status school in Melbourne, this paper explores how the nation state, transnational and global imperatives mediate their ethnic and diasporic consciousness and construction of Chineseness in the context of Australia. Challenging critical thesis in diaspora studies that emphasizes historicity and Othered experiences of diasporan subjects, the findings highlight a different version of Chineseness constructed by children of the Chinese diaspora, when 'root' becomes the equivalence of 'route'. The theoretical significance lies in the argument that nation-state still plays a critical role against the transnational and global tide in the 'time-space compression' of today. National discourses of ethnicity embedded in the Australian version of multiculturalism and cohesion discourses shape ABCs' construction of their ancestral origin and their national identity. In addition, micro factors such as family orientation towards ancestry, Chinese diasporic communities and incoming ethnoscapes contribute as well, if not less, to these ABCs' construct of Chineseness.