Chinese Diaspora and Transnationality: Envisioning Global Citizen/ship

  • Lingchei Letty Chen


The precariousness of diasporas’ political and cultural condition’ poses, probably, the greatest challenge in the reshaping of cultural identity. The national model of identity may not work for geopolitically displaced persons trapped as they are between native and foreign, home and the host country, and memory of the past and prospect of the future; they will have to consider transnational or multiple cultural identities and political affiliations. Riva Kastoryano proposes that “[t]ransnational networks linking the country of origin to the country of residence and promoting participation in both spaces bring to light multiple membership and multiple loyalties. Furthermore, transnational participation appears as the institutional expression of multiple belonging, where the country of origin becomes a source of identity and the country of residence a source of rights, and the emerging transnational space a space of political action combining two or more countries.”2 What Kastoryano proposes here is of course appealing; however, when applied to émigrés or political dissidents who reject or are rejected by their native country, the disjunction between the country of origin and the country of residence directly challenges Kastoryano’s theorization of a transnational identity. A case in point is Gao Xingjian, a political dissident who has been blacklisted by the Chinese government since he fled to Europe and became a French citizen.


Nobel Prize Cultural Identity Cultural Revolution Nobel Laureate Chinese Literature 
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  1. 1.
    The term “diaspora” has been applied across the board to include all those who do not live in their native or birth country for reasons such as immigration, migration, or exile. Dislocation can be either voluntary or involuntary. Here in this chapter, by “diaspora” I refer only to the involuntarily displaced persons such as émigrés or political dissidents who have been forced out of their native country to reside in another. Because the set of theoretical issues discussed in this chapter involves specifically the conditions surrounding involuntary diaspora, I therefore choose a narrow definition of the term to work with. For various definitions of diaspora, please see Theorizing Diaspora, ed. by Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003).Google Scholar
  2. 15.
    Gilbert C. F. Fong points out that, with the exceptions of Between Lift and Death (Shengsi jie, 1991), Dialogue and Rebuttal (Duihua yu fanjie, 1992), Nocturnal Wanderer (Yeyoushen, 1993), and Weekend Quartet (Zhoumo sichongzou, 1995), in which Gao Xingjian explores universal quandaries of the psychic, all of his other plays, short stories, and novels have a substantial amount of “Chineseness” in their essence and design. “Introduction,” The Other Shore: Plays by Gao Xiangjian.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    Terms I borrow from Caren Kaplan, Questions of Travel: Postmodern Discourse of Displacement (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 21.
    Yasemin Nuboglu Soysal, “Citizenship and Identity: Living in Diasporas in Postwar Europe?” The Postnational Self, ed. by Ulf Hedetoft and Mette Hjort (Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 137.Google Scholar

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© Lingchei Letty Chen 2006

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  • Lingchei Letty Chen

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