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370. Archival Production and Chinese Diaspora: New Approaches to Race, Belonging, and Migration in the 20th Century

Sun, March 19, 10:45am to 12:45pm, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, 2nd Floor, Provincial Ballroom South

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


This panel foregrounds archival practices as central to the history and categories of belonging through which Asian diasporic communities experienced their lives. Through three distinct case studies that move between China, Burma, New Zealand, Australia, India, Hong Kong, and USA, the papers examine how racialized identities take form through state, institutional, and community efforts at documentation. Each paper analyses narratives of space and modes of expressing national consciousness, ideas of home, and appropriate intimacy evident in archival collections on: returned overseas Chinese from Burma, photographs of Chinese migrants in New Zealand and Australia, and Chinese mixed race relations in Hong Kong. Yet, we argue, we cannot limit analysis of the sources to shared modes of governance in the 20th century of racialized bodies moving across borders. We must also attend to archival production as acts of governance. Drawing upon critical archival studies, we explore how the specific archival institutions and practices relevant to each case study shape enunciation of place and belonging ascribed to, and embraced by, Chinese diasporas and scholars alike.

To encourage dialogue between diaspora studies and archival studies, the panel includes two discussants. Ricardo Punzalan, specialist in archives and collective memory, first provides commentary on the papers. Next, the three papers are presented, each substantially framed in response to Punzlan’s comments. Shelly Chan, historian of Chinese diaspora and migration, concludes the panel from the perspective of diaspora studies, with attention to how approaching the archive as historical agent proposes new ways of theorizing Asian diaspora and migration.

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