Naming the Subject: Recovering “Euro-Asian” History

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2010-12-20 23:11Z by Steven

Naming the Subject: Recovering “Euro-Asian” History

Journal of Women’s History
Volume 22, Number 4, Winter 2010
pages 257-262
E-ISSN: 1527-2036, Print ISSN: 1042-7961

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

The historic election of Barack Obama as America’s first biracial president has drawn attention once again to a phenomenon that has been gathering momentum since the 1990s: that is, the movement among so-called “multiracial” or “mixed-race” people for recognition, both political and cultural. Although the American media has mostly focused on the multiracial movement in the US, this push for recognition actually has global dimensions. Kumari Jayawardena’s Erasure of the Euro-Asian: Recovering Early Radicalism and Feminism in South Asia is among the latest in a spate of books published in Asia that seeks to restore those of Asian/European ancestry to the historical record, including Michael Roberts, et al., People Inbetween: The Burghers and the Middle Class in the Transformation within Sri Lanka (1989), Myrna Braga-Blake’s Singapore Eurasians—Memories and Hopes (1992), and Vicki Lee’s Being Eurasian: Memories across Racial Divides (2004).  In fact, if Paul Spickard identified a “biracial biography boom” in the US during the 1990s, we seem to be currently in the midst of a “Eurasian publishing boom” that spans the globe from Asia, to Australia, Europe, and the US.  This publishing trend includes not only academic books like Jayawardena’s, but also memoirs, family biographies/genealogies, dictionaries, musical CDs, and even cookbooks.  It further includes projects such as the Anglo Indian Heritage Books series, which reprints classic works such as H.A. Stark’s Hostages to India (1926) and Cedric Dover’s Cimmerii?: or Eurasians and Their Future (1929).

What does Jayawardena’s book add to the mix? Although South Asian studies is beyond my own field, I can say…

Read or purchase the article here.

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