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“Eating Huaqiao” and the Left Behind: the Moral and Social-Economic of the Return of Overseas Chinese to a South China Village

Chen, M; (2013) “Eating Huaqiao” and the Left Behind: the Moral and Social-Economic of the Return of Overseas Chinese to a South China Village. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis draws on 18 months of participation observation in a Hakka-speaking, lineage-dominated village in Guangdong Province in South China. It is concerned with the perspective of the village locals interacting with the return of huaqiao (Overseas Chinese) since the 1980s. Huaqiao contribute significantly to the village infrastructure and welfare provision. This thesis asks: do lineage-village community traditions and values necessarily hinder the individualisation process; and how do we understand the individualistic pursuits in the notionally communal projects? The thesis documents the moral, socio-economic impact of the return of Overseas Chinese on the local villagers. This is done by examining key events, individuals and rituals. The ethnographic data includes the disputed demolition of a public building and the naming of private houses; two key individuals, a vengeful son who returned and an “actually existing matriarch”; and the co-existing practices of earth burial and cremation. The thesis analyses the power of lineage elite elders; individualism and traditional collectivism; the local logic of success and bitterness; women’s power in the lineage-dominated community and social differentiation. The return of huaqiao exposes the dual nature of village practices and events, which are often seen as communal and family projects. The tension between individuals’ pursuit of autonomy and their aspiration to identify with the traditional values of community is explored. I argue that the traditions and values of the small-scale community such as the lineage or village do not necessarily hinder Chinese individualisation, contrary to Yan Yunxiang’s theory. The expansion of both communal and individualistic space can mutually facilitate each other.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: “Eating Huaqiao” and the Left Behind: the Moral and Social-Economic of the Return of Overseas Chinese to a South China Village
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1415916
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