On Not Speaking Chinese
Living Between Asia and the West
ISBN10: 0415259134 ISBN13: 9780415259132 Publisher: Routledge Published: Dec 1 2001 Pages: 240 Weight: 0.80lbs. Height: 9.25" Width: 6.25" Depth: 0.50" Language: English
In this major new book, leading cultural thinker Ien Ang engages with urgent questions of identity in an age of globalisation and diaspora. The starting point for Ang's discussion is the experience of visiting Taiwan. Ang, a person of Chinese descent, born in Indonesia and raised in the Netherlands, found herself "faced with an almost insurmountable difficulty" - surrounded by people who expected her to speak to them in Chinese. She writes: "It was the beginning of an almost decade-long engagement with the predicaments of Chineseness' in diaspora. In Taiwan I was different because I couldn't speak Chinese; in the West I was different because I looked Chinese". From this autobiographical beginning, Ang goes on to reflect upon tensions between Asia' and the West' at a national and global level, and to consider the disparate meanings of Chineseness' in the contemporary world. She offers a critique of the increasingly aggressive construction of a global Chineseness, and challenges Western tendencies to equate Chinese' with Asian' identity. Ang then turns to the West', exploring the paradox of Australia's identity as a Western' country in the Asian region, and tracing Australia's uneasy relationship with its Asian neighbours, from the White Australia policy to contemporary multicultural society. Finally, Ang draws together her discussion of Asia' and the West' to consider the social and intellectual space of the in-between', arguing for a theorising not of difference' but of togetherness' in contemporary societies.