AES China - Finding Chinese American Roots: Exploring the Cantonese and Hokkien Diaspora (Exploration Seminar)
Asian American Studies 498 is an on-site explorations course on the history and lives of Chinese Americans in the context of the global Chinese diaspora. Since there is not adequate time to address all the different types of ethnic Chinese Americans, this explorations seminar will focus on the experiences of the 19th and 20th century Cantonese and Hokkien Chinese Americans. There are a number of reasons for narrowing the material to these groups, including the amount of written material available, the tremendous growth and changes within these populations, and the social, economic and political significance of their experiences in the United States. Beyond noting the commonalities of a Chinese ethnicity, students are expected to note how differences and similarities of race, class, gender and generation, for example, might influence both the objective and subjective life experiences of the different Chinese American groups in society. For example, what is the experience of a Cantonese Jamaican in the 19th century versus a Hokkien Indonesian during that same period?
The course has been divided into 5 parts: the first part deals with the 3 primary Chinese philosophies; second part focuses on Chinese migration; the third part concerns China’s early interaction with the West; the fourth part focuses on the policies set by other countries to deal with the Chinese immigration; the fifth deals with the Chinese in the United States and the changing meaning of identity.
This general aim of the course is to provide a forum for many different opinions in order to gain an understanding of the complexity of what it means to be “Chinese” and “Chinese American.” Students are expected to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the experiences, achievements and culture of the Overseas Chinese, especially Chinese Americans.