Mixed Race in Asia: Past, Present and Future

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2017-07-21 18:58Z by Steven

Mixed Race in Asia: Past, Present and Future

Routledge
2017-06-15
250 pages
1 B/W Illus.
Hardback ISBN: 9781138282674
eBook ISBN: 9781315270579

Edited by:

Zarine L. Rocha, Managing Editor
Current Sociology and the Asian Journal of Social Science

Farida Fozdar, Associate Professor in Anthropology and Sociology
University of Western Australia

Mixed racial and ethnic identities are topics of increasing interest around the world, yet studies of mixed race in Asia are rare, despite its particular salience for Asian societies.

Mixed Race in Asia seeks to reorient the field to focus on Asia, looking specifically at mixed race in China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and India. Through these varied case studies, this collection presents an insightful exploration of race, ethnicity, mixedness and belonging, both in the past and present. The thematic range of the chapters is broad, covering the complexity of lived mixed race experiences, the structural forces of particular colonial and post-colonial environments and political regimes, and historical influences on contemporary identities and cultural expressions of mixedness.

Adding significant richness and depth to existing theoretical frameworks, this enlightening volume develops markedly different understandings of, and recognizes nuances around, what it means to be mixed, practically, theoretically, linguistically and historically. It will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as postdoctoral and other researchers interested in fields such as Race and Ethnicity, Sociology and Asian Studies.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Mixed Race in Asia / Zarine L. Rocha and Farida Fozdar
  • Section One: China and Vietnam
    • Chapter One: “A Class by Themselves”: Battles over Eurasian Schooling in Late-19th-Century Shanghai / Emma J. Teng
    • Chapter Two: Mixing Blood and Race: Representing Hunxue in Contemporary China / Cathryn Clayton
    • Chapter Three: Métis of Vietnam: An Historical Perspective on Mixed-Race Children from the French Colonial Period / Christina Firpo
  • Section Two: South Korea and Japan
    • Chapter Four: Developing bilingualism in a largely monolingual society: Southeast Asian marriage migrants and multicultural families in South Korea / Mi Yung Park
    • Chapter Five: Haafu Identity in Japan: half, mixed or double? / Alexandra Shaitan and Lisa J. McEntee-Atalianis
    • Chapter Six: Claiming Japaneseness: recognition, privilege and status in Japanese-Filipino ‘mixed’ ethnic identity constructions / Fiona-Katharina Seiger
  • Section Three: Malaysia and Singapore
    • Chapter Seven: Being “Mixed” in Malaysia: Perspectives on Ethnic Diversity / Caryn Lim
    • Chapter Eight: Chinese, Indians and the Grey Space in between: Acceptance of Malaysian Chindians in a plural society / Rona Chandran
    • Chapter Nine: ‘Our Chinese’: The Mixedness of Peranakan Chinese Identities in Kelantan, Malaysia / Pue Giok Hun
    • Chapter Ten: Eurasian as Multiracial: mixed race, gendered categories and identity in Singapore / Zarine L. Rocha
  • Section Four: India and Indonesia
    • Chapter Eleven: Is the Anglo-Indian ‘Identity Crisis’ a Myth? / Robyn Andrews
    • Chapter Twelve: When Hybridity Encounters Hindu Purity Fetish: Anglo-Indian Lived Experiences in an Indian Railway Town / Anjali Gera Roy
    • Chapter Thirteen: Sometimes white, sometimes Asian: Boundary-making among transnational mixed descent youth at an international school in Indonesia / Danau Tanu
    • Chapter Fourteen: Class, Race and Being Indo (Eurasian) in Colonial and Postcolonial Indonesia / Ros Hewett
  • Afterword / Paul Spickard
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Call for papers: Mana Tangatarua: Mixed heritages and biculturalism in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Posted in Anthropology, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2016-02-21 02:18Z by Steven

Call for papers: Mana Tangatarua: Mixed heritages and biculturalism in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Dr Zarine L. Rocha
2015-11-22

Deadline: 29 February 2016

This volume seeks to explore the diversity of research on “mixed race”/mixed ethnic identity in Aotearoa/New Zealand. “Mixed race” identities have been the subject of growing scholarly interest over the past two decades, particularly in North America and Britain. In multicultural societies, increasing numbers of people of mixed ancestry are identifying themselves outside of traditional racial categories, challenging systems of racial classification and sociological understandings of “race”.

This volume aims to reorient the field of study to look specifically at New Zealand. New Zealand provides a particularly interesting context, with a diverse population, and an unusual state framework around race and ethnicity: mixedness and “mixed ethnic identity” have been officially recognised for more than 20 years. The proposed book will draw on research across disciplines, seeking to explore both the past and the present by looking at how race relates to ethnicity, and how official and social understandings of these terms have changed. It will focus on the interactions between race, ethnicity, national identity, indigeneity and culture, especially in terms of visibility and self-defined identity. The range of themes covered will include the complexity of the lived mixed race experience, the role of indigenous identity, migration, generational change and identity, and the complexities of a multicultural society within a bicultural national framework.

Book Overview

The proposed book will be edited by Dr Zarine L. Rocha (National University of Singapore) and Dr Melinda Webber (University of Auckland).

It will include an introduction written by the editors surveying the current condition of the field of scholarship in the country, putting this in an international context. This will be followed by up to 15 chapters of original research by a selection of senior, mid and early career researchers across a range of disciplines.

Please send your abstracts (150-200 words) and bio (50-100 words) by 29 February 2016, to: Dr Zarine L. Rocha (z.l.rocha@ajss.sg).

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“Mixed Race” Identities in Asia and the Pacific: Experiences from Singapore and New Zealand

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Oceania, Social Science on 2015-11-04 17:46Z by Steven

“Mixed Race” Identities in Asia and the Pacific: Experiences from Singapore and New Zealand

Routledge
2015-10-28
188 pages
2 B/W Illus.
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-13-893393-4

Zarine L. Rocha, Managing Editor
Current Sociology and The Asian Journal of Social Science

“Mixed race” is becoming an important area for research, and there is a growing body of work in the North American and British contexts. However, understandings and experiences of “mixed race” across different countries and regions are not often explored in significant depth. New Zealand and Singapore provide important contexts for investigation, as two multicultural, yet structurally divergent, societies. Within these two countries, “mixed race” describes a particularly interesting label for individuals of mixed Chinese and European parentage.

This book explores the concept of “mixed race” for people of mixed Chinese and European descent, looking at how being Chinese and/or European can mean many different things in different contexts. By looking at different communities in Singapore and New Zealand, it investigates how individuals of mixed heritage fit into or are excluded from these communities. Increasingly, individuals of mixed ancestry are opting to identify outside of traditionally defined racial categories, posing a challenge to systems of racial classification, and to sociological understandings of “race”. As case studies, Singapore and New Zealand provide key examples of the complex relationship between state categorization and individual identities. The book explores the divergences between identity and classification, and the ways in which identity labels affect experiences of “mixed race” in everyday life. Personal stories reveal the creative and flexible ways in which people cross boundaries, and the everyday negotiations between classification, heritage, experience, and nation in defining identity. The study is based on qualitative research, including in-depth interviews with people of mixed heritage in both countries.

Filling an important gap in the literature by using an Asia/Pacific dimension, this study of race and ethnicity will appeal to students and scholars of mixed race studies, ethnicity, Chinese diaspora and cultural anthropology.

Contents

  • 1. Finding the “Mixed” in “Mixed Race”
  • 2. Mixed Histories in New Zealand and Singapore
  • 3. The Personal in the Political
  • 4. Being and Belonging
  • 5. Roots, Routes and Coming Home
  • 6. Conclusion
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Call for papers: “Mixed Race” in Asia

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2015-07-31 20:00Z by Steven

Call for papers: “Mixed Race” in Asia

2015-07-10

This edited volume seeks to focus attention on the neglected topic of “mixed race” in the Asian region. “Mixed race” identities have been the subject of growing scholarly interest over the past two decades. In multicultural societies, increasing numbers of people of mixed ancestry are identifying themselves outside of traditional racial categories, challenging systems of racial classification and sociological understandings of “race”.

There is a growing body of work emerging in the North American and British contexts. However, understandings and experiences of “mixed race” across different national contexts have not been explored in significant depth. Increasing research is being undertaken in the Australian/Pacific region, but research on “mixed race” in Asia has lagged behind. The proposed volume expands the field of research to include the Asian region. It explores these dilemmas through a series of case studies from around Asia, a region unique in its diversity of cultures, ethnicities, languages and histories.

In many countries in Asia, racial, ethnic and cultural mixing has a long and fascinating history, and narratives around “mixed race” have developed in vastly different ways. From established identities such as Anglo-Indians in India, to Eurasians in Singapore and Peranakan identity in Southeast Asia, to newer ones like Hafus in Japan, individuals of mixed heritage have diverse experiences across the region. These experiences have been shaped by a range of political contexts and levels of acceptance. This volume seeks to draw out these experiences, as well as the social and structural factors affecting mixedness both historically and today.

Book Overview

The proposed book will be edited by Associate Professor Farida Fozdar (University of Western Australia) and Dr Zarine Rocha (National University of Singapore).

It will include an introduction written by the editors surveying the current condition of the field of scholarship in the region, putting this in an international context. This will be followed by up to 15 chapters of original research by a selection of senior, mid and early career researchers across a range of disciplines. We particularly welcome contributions addressing “mixed race” in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Tibet.

Please send your abstracts (150-200 words) and bio (50-100 words) to: Dr Zarine L. Rocha at z.l.rocha@ajss.sg.

Deadline: 31 July 2015

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‘Stretching out the categories’: Chinese/European narratives of mixedness, belonging and home in Singapore

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2014-03-20 20:45Z by Steven

‘Stretching out the categories’: Chinese/European narratives of mixedness, belonging and home in Singapore

Ethnicities
Volume 14, Number 2 (April 2014)
pages 279-302
DOI: 10.1177/1468796813505554

Zarine L. Rocha, Research Scholar
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore

Racial categorization is important in everyday interactions and state organization in Singapore. Increasingly, the idea of ‘mixed race’ and new conceptions of mixedness are challenging such classification along racial lines. Although contemporary Singapore is extremely diverse, the underlying ideology of multiracialism remains grounded in distinctly racialized groups, leaving little space for more complex individual identities. This paper explores the identifications of individuals of mixed Chinese and European descent in the Singaporean context, looking at how complexity is lived within firmly racialized structures. Drawing on a series of 20 narrative interviews, this research examines the relationship between categorization and identity, focusing on the identities of individuals with multiple national, cultural and ethnic ties. The practical impacts of racial categorization shape many aspects of life in Singapore, and individuals of mixed descent illustrated a constant tension between official categorization and personal mixedness, seen in the frustrations experienced and strategies developed by individuals around race and belonging. Individuals negotiated their connections around race and nationality both in practical terms around language, social policies and culture, and personally in terms of symbolic feelings of connection.

Read or purchase the article 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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(Mixed) Racial formation in Aotearoa/New Zealand: framing biculturalism and ‘mixed race’ through categorisation

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2013-03-17 00:37Z by Steven

(Mixed) Racial formation in Aotearoa/New Zealand: framing biculturalism and ‘mixed race’ through categorisation

Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online
Volume 7, Issue 1, (May 2012)
DOI: 10.1080/1177083X.2012.670650
pages 1-13

Zarine L. Rocha, Research Scholar
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore

This paper explores racial formation in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the impacts of state categorisation on understandings of ‘mixed race’. Processes of racial formation have undergone significant shifts over time, from initial colonial understandings of racialised domination and hierarchy, to present-day narratives of a multicultural society within a bicultural national framework. Connecting these narratives is a constant thread of racial differentiation, framing inter-group relations within society and underpinning contemporary state and social understandings of (mixed) race. Although New Zealand maintains an innovative method of measuring ethnic (self) identification, this fluid categorisation is constrained by existing classification structures and dominant racial narratives. ‘Mixed race’ identity is thus firmly positioned within the bicultural/multicultural tension, which characterises ‘race relations’ in New Zealand. Mixed identities for the individual can be seen as reflecting the ‘mixed’ nature of the state and society, with the narrative of a bicultural nation providing a macro level depiction of personal mixedness.

Introduction

Omi and Winant’s theory of racial formation (1986, 1994) provides a lucid and grounded framework to explore and analyse the politics of race and ethnicity. The term racial formation describes the complex interrelationship between social, economic and political forces, the creation of racialised categories and hierarchies, and the content and influence of racial meanings (Omi & Winant 1986:61). Placing race at the heart of social analysis, racial formation theory emphasises the centrality of race in social structures, as well as its socially constructed, politically contested and historically flexible nature. Racial categories, historically created and embedded, both dictate and reflect individual understandings of race, where micro understandings meet macro structures (Omi & Winant 1994, 2009; Winant 2000:182).

Processes of racial formation in New Zealand have undergone significant shifts across different stages of nation-building, moving from colonial understandings of racialised hierarchy, to the present-day complex narrative of a multicultural society within a bicultural national framework. Connecting these narratives over time is a constant thread of differentiation along racial and ethnic lines, framing inter-group relations and underpinning understandings of race and ‘mixed race’. Despite a shift towards conceptions of ethnicity, the country’s racialised colonial past continues to influence social policy and popular understandings of identity and belonging. This article illustrates the temporal continuities and changes in macro narratives of race and ethnicity, exploring historical processes of racial formation through colonisation and categorisation, with a focus on how ‘mixed race’ has been understood in policy and practice.

As a lingering colonial legacy, the idea of ‘race’ in New Zealand as a means to structure and understand society remains pervasive and powerful, for the state and the individual (Spoonley 1993:2). As racial narratives have shifted over time, from colonialisation and amalgamation, through assimilation, and towards biculturalism (Bozic-Vrbancic 2005:518), state, social and individual understandings of what it means to be ‘mixed race’ in the New Zealand context have also developed and changed. Although 90% of the population reports a single ethnic group (Statistics New Zealand 2009), these groups are complex and fluid, representing a multiplicity of understandings and practices. Within the contemporary overarching binary narrative (potentially illustrating a ‘mixed’ identity at the state level), individual mixed identities have been simultaneously acknowledged and ignored – recognised officially through categorisation, but practically subsumed under the broader categories of Māori, Pākehā, Asian and Pacific Peoples, which structure institutional and everyday interactions. This article traces the origins of this dissonance and complexity, looking primarily at the Māori and Pākehā populations, and changing constructions of race and ethnicity in New Zealand…

…Race, ethnicity and projects of categorisation…

…Further complicating understandings of race, the concept of ‘mixed race’ has been the subject of increasing interest over the past two decades (Parker & Song 2001; Ifekwunigwe 2004). In multicultural societies, greater numbers of individuals of mixed ancestry are identifying outside of traditional racial categories, posing a challenge to existing systems of classification, and to sociological understandings of the significance of ‘race’. Highlighting wider questions about the consequences of and motivations for identification, ‘mixed race’ identities were recognised by the American and British censuses in 2000/2001. New Zealand provides a particularly interesting contrast, highlighting policy and individual outcomes in a context where multiplicity has been formally recognised for an extended period of time. Applying racial formation theory to ‘mixed race’ illuminates new ways of understanding both racial formation processes, and what it means to be ‘mixed’. More broadly, placing ‘mixed race’ at the centre of racial formation theory, this paper illustrates the shifting and problematic concept of race in New Zealand, and the ‘crisis of racial meaning’ that is posited to occur when racial categorisation is not possible (Omi & Winant 1994:59)…

…Racial formation in New Zealand…

…New Zealand’s first national census in 1851 included only the European population, providing a clear message as to which population counted (literally) in the nation-building process. A partial census of Māori was carried out in 1857–1858, before full and regular censuses of Māori became institutionalised from 1867, with this separation in measurement continuing until 1951 (Statistics New Zealand 2004:21). This delimiting of the Māori population combined ideas of race and culture, measuring those identified as Māori, but also, interestingly, those who lived as Māori, highlighting the importance of the practice of racial identities for the state (Callister et al. 2006:5; Howard & Didham 2007:2). The application of race as practice was directed particularly at those who were classified as ‘half-castes’. After 1916, data on race was systematically collected, and those in the middle, the ‘half-caste’ population, were classified by their modes of living (Statistics New Zealand 2009:11).

In contrast to many other colonial societies, the New Zealand state closely monitored racial mixing and attempted to structure private lives through colonial policy, but never prohibited miscegenation, intertwining racial identities, gender roles and empire building (Wanhalla 2004:39, 2009:15). The Māori population were viewed as biologically ‘close’ to the European settlers, and intermarriage was seen as a viable method of social and biological assimilation, as well as of appropriation of land (Freeman 2005). Intermarriage generally occurred between Māori women and European men—initially due to the population of single European men involved in early trade, and later continuing a pattern of gendered power imbalances. Inter-racial unions, as gendered crossings of racial boundaries, represented an important point of contact between the colonisers and the colonised, and a disruption of the racial hierarchy, particularly if they produced biological evidence—the ‘half-caste’ (Grimshaw 2002:12; Wanhalla 2004:28).

‘Half-caste’ children were viewed as in-between the two populations in terms of traits and worth, and were practically included as Māori or Pākehā, depending on the cultural associations of the parents (A. Anderson 1991; Meredith 2000:11). However, despite the lack of legal prohibition, neither group viewed mixed children positively, particularly as they disrupted popular settler notions of a ‘white New Zealand’. Differential understandings of land and inheritance also highlighted how colonial ‘mixed race’ differed significantly from Māori understandings of belonging. Traditionally, measurements of ‘blood’ were not used to defined ‘Māoriness’: rather, being born with links to other Māori made an individual a grandchild of the tribe, regardless of blood percentage (Jackson 2003:62; Howard & Didham 2007).

Official understandings and measurements of ‘mixed race’ were complex and often inconsistent—based on biological understandings, but tempered by the realities of cultural practice. The concept of ‘half-caste’ both described and dictated relationships between racialised groups, acting as a means to promote certain processes of land acquisition and cultural dominance, in favour of the British settlers (Wanhalla 2004:9; Kukutai 2007:1151). By troubling the binary mode of Māori/non-Māori for the census enumerators, and often relying on subjective judgements of living conditions or skin colour rather than ‘scientific’ measures of blood, the category of ‘half-caste’ ‘continued to defy categorisation and instead occupied an ambivalent and unstable position in the national census’ (Wanhalla 2004:296–297)….

Read the entire article here.

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Identity, dislocation and belonging: Chinese/European narratives of mixedness in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania on 2012-12-22 22:34Z by Steven

Identity, dislocation and belonging: Chinese/European narratives of mixedness in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power
Published online: 2012-12-14
DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2012.752369

Zarine L. Rocha, Research Scholar
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore

With over 10% of the population identifying with multiple ethnic groups, identities in New Zealand are increasingly complex. This article explores identifications of individuals of mixed Chinese and European descent: the ways in which personal location, classification and race influence feelings of belonging within and between multiple ethnic groups. The fluidity and diversity of the New Zealand context and the resulting positioning of ‘mixed race’ provide an interesting counterpoint to the comparatively well-studied American and British contexts. Drawing on 20 interviews with individuals of mixed descent, this research highlights how individual identity diverges from official classification and how this dissonance is understood through experiences of dislocation and belonging. ‘Mixedness’ is negotiated and enacted in many ways, as individuals find ways to belong in the face of wider dislocation, intertwining aspects of heritage, experience, community and nation.

Introduction

With over 10% of the New Zealand population identifying with more than one ethnic group (Statistics New Zealand 2006), identities in New Zealand are becoming increasingly complex. Following shifts in immigration policy, the population has become more diverse and understandings of ethnic identity and belonging have developed and changed. Similar changes have occurred in other multicultural societies around the world and as a result, the concepts of ‘mixed race’ and ‘mixed ethnicity’ are of increasing academic and political concern, particularly in the American and British contexts (see Ifekwunigwe 2004, Parker and Song 2001b).

The New Zealand population provides an illuminating case study in this field, highlighting the intersections and divergences between ethnic identifications and systems of ethnic and racial classification. The increasing prominence of ”mixed race’ identities challenges traditional racial categorisation, and changes in the American and British censuses in 2000/2001 allowed respondents to acknowledge ‘mixed race’ in official classification (Aspinall 2009. Perlmann and Waters 2002). New Zealand is important in comparison, as a context where multiple identities have been formally recognised for an extended period of time: both historically in categorisations of ‘half-castes‘ and more recently as multiple, self-ascribed identities in the census since 1991 (Callister and Kukutai 2009. Morning 2008). Despite the official recognition of multiplicity, social conceptions of racial singularity…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Multiplicity within Singularity: Racial Categorization and Recognizing “Mixed Race” in Singapore

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-01-11 16:45Z by Steven

Multiplicity within Singularity: Racial Categorization and Recognizing “Mixed Race” in Singapore

Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs
Volume 30, Number 3 (2011)
pages 95-131
ISSN: 1868-4882 (online), ISSN: 1868-1034

Zarine L. Rocha, Research Scholar
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore

“Race” and racial categories play a significant role in everyday life and state organization in Singapore. While multiplicity and diversity are important characteristics of Singaporean society, Singapore’s multiracial ideology is firmly based on separate, racialized groups, leaving little room for racial projects reflecting more complex identifications. This article explores national narratives of race, culture and belonging as they have developed over time, used as a tool for the state, and re-emerging in discourses of hybridity and “double-barrelled” racial identifications. Multiracialism, as a maintained structural feature of Singaporean society, is both challenged and reinforced by new understandings of hybridity and older conceptions of what it means to be “mixed race” in a (post-)colonial society. Tracing the temporal thread of racial categorization through a lens of mixedness, this article places the Singaporean case within emerging work on hybridity and recognition of “mixed race”. It illustrates how state-led understandings of race and “mixed race” describe processes of both continuity and change, with far-reaching practical and ideological impacts.

Introduction

“Race” and racial categories have long played a significant role in everyday life and state organization in Singapore. From colonization to independent statehood, narratives of racial distinctiveness and classification underpinned Singapore’s development at macro and micro levels. While multiplicity and diversity are important characteristics of contemporary Singaporean society, Singapore’s multiracial ideology is firmly based on separated, racialized groups, leaving little room for more complex individual and institutional racial projects. However, hybridity and “mixed race” are increasingly important characteristics and identifications in Singaporean society, and in fact have historically provided an important thread linking colonial and postcolonial national identifications. This article traces the emergence of mixed identities against a background of racial structuring in Singapore, moving from colonial understandings of race towards the recent state-led efforts at recognizing hybridity: acknowledging ancestral and personal complexity within a singular racial framework…

…Mixedness, Diversity and Identity

In contrast to the neat delimitations of the census, colonial Singaporean society was diverse and complicated, made up of interacting groups that blurred at the edges. The Peranakans, otherwise known as Babas and Nonyas, or Straits Chinese, provide a good example of this complexity, as an ethnic group which traced its descent to seventeenth century Chinese migrants who married local women in Southeast Asia (Beng 1993; Stokes-Rees 2007). Characterized by Chinese and Malay influences and inflected by European and Indonesian customs, Peranakan (meaning “descendent” in Malay) culture illustrated the fusion and intermingling of cultures in everyday life (Goh 2008a: 237).

In keeping with the eurocentric understanding of racial hierarchy, much intermixing (particularly inter-Asian intermixing, as in this case) was left unrecorded and unremarked. It was the intermixing between Europeans and Asians that was of greater concern to the colonial authorities (Stoler 1992), reflecting the gendered and racialized bases for colonialism. Of concern was the fact that despite practical and prejudicial limitations, as in all of Europe’s colonies, relationships between the colonizers and the colonized produced offspring: children of “mixed race”, who transgressed the ostensibly fixed racial lines demarcated by the administration (Pomfret 2009).

Individuals of mixed European and Asian descent in Singapore were known as Eurasians. Interestingly, Eurasians were among the earliest migrants to Singapore after 1819, coming from regions with an established European presence, such as Goa, Malacca, Macau and Timor (Braga-Blake 1992; Pereira 2006). Eurasians were frequently classified as European due to similarities in style of dress, custom and religion, and as such were accorded higher socio-economic status, often working in the civil service and in higher ranking jobs (Braga-Blake 1992; Pereira 1997). As greater numbers of Europeans arrived after 1869, this privileged position became more precarious (Pereira 2006). Eurasians continued to occupy an intermediate position, between the “local” population and the British colonizers in terms of employment, education and socio-economic status, but a firmer line was drawn between European and Eurasian – effectively limiting social interaction and employment prospects, but maintaining a certain privilege (Braga-Blake 1992)…

Read the entire article here.

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Tune Your Engine – What is a New Zealander?

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2011-08-02 13:40Z by Steven

Tune Your Engine – What is a New Zealander?

Afternoons with Jim Mora
Radio New Zealand National
2011-08-02, 03:10Z (15:10 NZT)

Jim Mora, Presenter

Zarine L. Rocha, Research Scholar in the Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore

Zarine Rocha is a research Scholar in the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. She’s exploring the issues of mixed race and mixed ethnic identity in New Zealand and Singapore. (00:19:25)

Listen to the interview here in (MP3 or Ogg Vorbis format).

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