CALL FOR PAPERS | Mixed Race in Asia and Australasia: Migrations, Mobilities and Belonging

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Oceania, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-02-15 02:17Z by Steven

CALL FOR PAPERS | Mixed Race in Asia and Australasia: Migrations, Mobilities and Belonging

Asia Research Institute
Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC
2017-10-12 through 2017-10-13

2017-02-01

CALL FOR PAPERS DEADLINE: 1 APRIL 2017

The topic of mixed race, often overlooked by researchers because of its connection with discredited notions of ‘race’, has recently come into its own as a result of recognition of the unique and diverse experiences of those who challenge monolithic racial categories. Interest in DNA testing to determine the global scale of one’s ancestry is becoming increasingly popular, demonstrating the ubiquity of mixedness. A number of publications from the USA and the UK and growing interest internationally (King-O’Riain et al, 2014; Edwards et al, 2012), as well as an increasing social network presence (www.mix-d.org; www.intermix.org.uk; mixedrootsstories.com; www.mixedsingle.com; www.mixedracestudies.org) and media representation, signal the importance of this growing phenomenon. This workshop seeks to extend knowledge about mixedness in the Australasian and Asian region through a range of collaborative endeavours.

People of mixed race are often seen as either ‘marginal’ (in terms of culture, psychology and community) or as the vanguard of an integrated, post-racial, cosmopolitan world (Edwards et al. 2012). Such dichotomies ignore the complex lived reality of being mixed (‘passing’, having ‘multiracial’ identities, feeling one race while looking like another etc.). The lived experience of being ‘mixed’ is strongly influenced by political and social context, and thus cross-national and cross- cultural comparison is vital.

In many countries in Asia, racial, ethnic and cultural mixing has a long history, and narratives around mixed race have developed in vastly different ways. From established identities such as Anglo-Indians in India, Eurasians in Singapore and Peranakans in Southeast Asia, to newer identities such as Hafus in Japan, and indeed those without named identifiers, individuals of mixed heritage have diverse experiences. These experiences have been shaped by a range of historical circumstances (colonial versus more peaceful intercultural engagements), political contexts (monarchies, democracies, authoritarian dynasties), and by the type of mixedness (e.g. European, Chinese, Indian, Japanese; indigenous), as well as different levels of political, cultural and social acceptance. ‘Racial purity’ is seen as desirable in some Asian countries, particularly those with less colonial baggage, often leading to the marginalisation of those of mixed backgrounds.

For the workshop, key themes of interest include:

  • How collective and individual narratives of ‘old’ hybrid identities are changing in relation to hierarchies of belonging between and within racial identities and new migration flows.
  • How mixed race identities are negotiated, adapted, or lived at interrelated spatial scales such as family/home, ethnic community, national, and virtual space.
  • How meanings of mixed-descent identities change (e.g. are abandoned, reworked or replenished) across generations.
  • How culture and race are negotiated in the development of mixed race identities.
  • How policy and classificatory structures impact the formation of mixed race communities.

SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS

Submissions should include a title, an abstract of no more than 250 words and a brief biography including name, institutional affiliation, and email contact. Please note that only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted. By participating in the workshop, you agree to participate in the future publication plans (special issue/journal) of the organizers. The organizers will provide hotel accommodation for three nights and a contribution towards airfare for accepted paper participants (one author per paper).

Please submit your proposal, using the provided proposal template to Ms Tay Minghua at minghua.tay@nus.edu.sg by 1 April 2017. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by the end of May.

WORKSHOP CONVENERS

Professor Brenda S.A. Yeoh
Asia Research Institute, and Department of Geography, National University of Singapore
E-mail: geoysa@nus.edu.sg

Ms Kristel Acedera
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
E-mail: arikafa@nus.edu.sg

Contact Person(s)
Tay Minghua

For more information, click here.

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Betwixt, Between and Beyond: Racial formation and “mixed race” identities in New Zealand and Singapore

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2014-03-08 06:13Z by Steven

Betwixt, Between and Beyond: Racial formation and “mixed race” identities in New Zealand and Singapore

National University of Singapore
2013
345 pages

Zarine Lia Rocha

A THESIS SUBMITTED FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY

“Mixed race” identities are increasingly important for academics and policy makers around the world. In many multicultural societies, individuals of mixed ancestry are identifying outside of traditional racial categories, posing a challenge to systems of racial classification, and to sociological understandings of race. Singapore and New Zealand illustrate the complex relationship between state categorization and individual identities. Both countries are diverse, with high rates of intermarriage, and a legacy of colonial racial organization. However, New Zealand’s emphasis on voluntary, fluid ethnic identity and Singapore’s fixed four-race framework provide key points of contrast. Each represents the opposite end of the spectrum in addressing “mixed race”: multiple ethnic options have been recognized in New Zealand for several decades, while symbolic recognition is now being implemented in Singapore.

This research explores histories of racial formation in New Zealand and Singapore, focusing on narratives of racial formation. The project examines two simultaneous processes: how individuals of mixed heritage negotiate identities within a racially structured framework, and why—how racial classification has affected this over time. Using a narrative lens, state-level narratives of racial formation are juxtaposed with individual narratives of identity. “Mixedness” is then approached from a different angle, moving away from classifications of identity, towards a characterization of narratives of reinforcement, accommodation, transcendence and subversion.

Drawing on a series of 40 interviews, this research found similarities and differences across the two contexts. In Singapore, against a racialized framework with significant material consequences, top-down changes sought to symbolically acknowledge mixedness, without upsetting the multiracial balance. In New Zealand, state efforts to remove “race” from public discourse allow ethnicity to be understood more flexibly, yet this has not always translated easily to everyday life. For individuals in Singapore, narratives were shaped by a racialized background, as they located themselves within pervasive racial structures. In New Zealand, stories were positioned against a dual narrative of fluidity and racialization, reflected in narratives that embraced ambiguity while referring back to racialized categories.

The four narrative characterizations illustrated the diversity of stories within each context, yet highlighted certain patterns. Narratives of transcendence were present in both countries, illustrating how historical racialization can be rejected. Narratives of accommodation were more common in New Zealand, as the dissonance between public and private understandings of mixedness was less stark. Narratives of reinforcement were more frequently seen in Singapore, mirroring colonial/post-colonial projects of racial formation in which personal stories were located. Narratives of subversion were present in both countries, but were more common in New Zealand, where subversion required less conscious effort.

Overall, this research drew out how identity can diverge from official classification, as individuals worked to navigate difference at an everyday level. State acknowledgements of mixedness served to highlight the continued dissonance between fluid identities and fixed racial categories, as well as the unique balance of racialized choice and constraint in Singapore and in New Zealand. Personal narratives revealed the creative ways in which people crossed boundaries, and the everyday negotiations between classification, heritage, and experience in living mixed identities.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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