The Asian Turn in Mixed Race Studies: Retrospects and Prospects

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2017-05-04 03:20Z by Steven

The Asian Turn in Mixed Race Studies: Retrospects and Prospects

Asia Pacific Perspectives
Volume 14, Number 2: Spring 2017

Emma J. Teng, T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations; Associate Professor of Chinese Studies
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In 1930, the young Han Suyin (pen name of Rosalie Chou, 1916-2012) read this passage in a book called Races of the World: “Racial mixtures are prone to mental unbalance, hysteria, alcoholism, generally of weak character and untrustworthy…” Shaken, she prayed, “Oh God… don’t let me go mad, don’t let my brain go, I want to study.”1

Probably the most famous Eurasian author of the 20th century, one who served as a major interpreter of China to the West during the tumultuous Cold War era, Han was haunted by these words and driven throughout her life by a determination to prove them untrue, fighting the pronounced stigma and the obstacles faced by mixed-heritage individuals during her era. As she highlighted in this famous scene from her autobiographical A Mortal Flower (1965), such stigma was not only a product of social prejudice, but also heavily reinforced by scientific and pseudoscientific discourses of the time.

From our vantage point today, it is a good moment to take stock of how far we have come (or failed to come) over the century that separates us from Han’s birth. How have popular perceptions of “mixed-race” peoples changed in Asia and across the globe? How have academic discourses evolved? And perhaps most importantly, how have “mixed” individuals themselves advocated for their equal rights and recognition? The articles in this pathbreaking issue of Asia Pacific Perspectives address these vital questions and others, focusing their analyses on historical and contemporary manifestations of “mixedness” across East Asia…

Read the entire article here.

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Han Suyin Dies; Wrote Sweeping Fiction

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, Women on 2012-11-06 22:55Z by Steven

Han Suyin Dies; Wrote Sweeping Fiction

The New York Times

Margalit Fox

Han Suyin, a physician and author known for writing the sweeping novel that became the Hollywood film “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” and for her outspoken championing of China under Mao Zedong, died on Friday at her home in Lausanne, Switzerland.

As with many aspects of Dr. Han’s life, the precise year of her birth is uncertain, but she was believed to have been 96. Her granddaughter, Karen Shepard, confirmed the death.

The daughter of a Chinese father and a Belgian mother, Dr. Han was born and reared in China but wrote primarily in English and French. In more than two dozen books, including novels, a multivolume memoir and laudatory biographies of Mao and Zhou Enlai, she had the singular task, during the 1950s and afterward, of simultaneously explaining China to the West and the West to China…

…Dr. Han was born on Sept. 12, most likely in 1916, her granddaughter said — not in 1917, as has been reported over the years. The city of her birth is uncertain: it may have been Xinyang, in the Henan Province. Her parents eventually settled in Beijing, where she grew up.

At birth, Dr. Han was given the Chinese name Kuang-Hu Chou; she was also known early on by a Western name believed to have been Rosalie Matilda Chou, though she preferred to call herself Elizabeth. (At the start of her writing career she took the pen name Han Suyin, which she liked to translate as “a common little voice.”)

Growing up as a mixed-race child, Dr. Han later said, she felt she had a foot in each of two words but a secure footing in neither. Her mother, she told The New York Times in 1985, caustically referred to her as “the yellowish object.”…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Han Suyin’s Many-Splendored World

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, Women on 2012-11-06 22:43Z by Steven

Han Suyin’s Many-Splendored World

The New York Times

Georgia Dullea

Being remembered as the author of  ”A Many-Splendored Thing,” the semiautobiographical love story of a Eurasian physician and a British journalist in Hong Kong, which inspired a sentimental movie and an even more sentimental song, is a bore, says Han Suyin, 33 years and 16 books after the fact.

In this country, “they still identify me with Jennifer Jones and that song,” the 68-year-old Dr. Han said with a weary smile, ”and I do get bored because, well, I’ve done other things.”

Dr. Han, who lives in Lausanne, Switzerland, was sitting in her pied-à-terre on Beekman Place, drinking beer from a china mug and reflecting on change – both in China and in her own mind.

“I’m a person who changes, who adapts,” she said. “It’s because of my avidity for learning. If tomorrow you prove to me something new, I’ll be quite willing to overturn my ideas because ideas are made to be overturned.”

Exploring Two Cultural Identities

Born in Peking of a Chinese father and Belgian mother, Dr. Han has devoted her literary career to exploring her two cultural identities and to explaining East to West. “Instead of remaining torn and frayed, as so many other people, I come together and now both my worlds have come together,” she said, pressing one palm on the other. “To be quite honest, I was not very happy in a world where China and the West were at odds”…

Read the entire article here.

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