Cori NG

Cori NG

Doctorant contractuel, Sorbonne Université

Élision et résistance dans la diaspora : Une analyse de l'identité des individus métis d’origine chinoise au Royaume-Uni (1984-2019)

This thesis will investigate the identity journeys and performed ethnicities of British Chinese with “mixed” heritage as framed by contemporary political contexts across Britain, Hong Kong, China, and the broader western world. More specifically, it aims to contextualize contemporary British perceptions and personal lived experiences of multiethnic individuals with Chinese ancestry living within the United Kingdom itself. 

As tensions between Hong Kong and mainland China continue to have a profound ripple effect across global Chinese diasporas, effects made all the more complicated by the rise in anti-Asian xenophobia in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, research of this nature has taken on a renewed importance. Intersecting conceptions of ethnic identity, performativity, cultural representation, political discourse, and varying forms of discrimination are all key components of the lived experiences that shape the thoughts, feelings, associations, and actions of multiracial British Chinese individuals in the 21st century.

Though small, the field of mixed-race studies in the United Kingdom has been growing in recent years. Led by scholars such as Miri Song, David Parker, M. Nakamura Lopez, and Mengxi Pang, their various works have demonstrated the importance of framing multiracial identity through an intergenerational familial lens (Song 2017, Lopez 2017, Pang 2018) as well as the mechanisms of reflexive racialization for young British Chinese in online spaces (Song and Parker 2006). However, none of these works have addressed the central question of how mixed-race British Chinese individuals actually perform cultural, political, and personal agency in the various ways they might qualify their ethnic Chinese roots both on an individual and an interpersonal level. The ways in which multiracial British Chinese accept or reject broad labels such as “Chinese” or insist upon the prefix of “Hong Kong” to qualify said ethnic appellation hold the potential to reveal fascinating and critical insights about individual identity formation, but to date the academic literature on how this takes form for mixed-race individuals within the British Chinese diaspora remains sparse. As a result, current scholarship lacks a key component with which to analyze how the macro effects of postcolonial global politics can potentially influence individual conceptions of multiracial ethnicity on a micro scale, whether they be performed within UK society specifically or the global Chinese diaspora more broadly.

This thesis aims to help bridge this gap through the analysis of how individuals perform and assert their ethnic identities as self-described “mixed-race” British Chinese individuals while also firmly situating it within the current literature about multiracial identity, belonging, and voice in the contemporary UK. It will serve as a critical qualitative study of mixed-race identity that analyzes and illustrates how multiracial ethnic assertions and performativity in the British Chinese diaspora can be linked to contemporary geopolitical tensions between Hong Kong and the PRC, domestic policies and rhetoric employed by the UK government, and the specific societal contexts surrounding race and ethnicity within Britain itself.