Re-establishing networks : capital, power and identity in the making of an Indonesian Chinese community in Hong Kong
Abstract of thesis entitled
Capital, Power and Identity in the Making of an Indonesian Chinese
Community in Hong Kong
for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
at the University of Hong Kong
in April 2003
This thesis explores the emerging phenomenon of Chinese trans-border socio-economic networking in the age of globalization through a study of the Indonesian Chinese in Hong Kong. To capture the complexity and dynamism of this occurrence, this study adopts an interdisciplinary approach that combines historical and sociological angles, and employs a transnational perspective instead of a national one. Historically, this study traces how networks of one particular Indonesian Chinese community, the Palembang Chinese, have come into being in the past half a century; sociologically, it inquires into the nature and characteristics of contemporary Chinese networks.
By unfolding the process of severance, mending, re-establishment and extension of the networks of the Indonesian Chinese in Hong Kong, this thesis relates an untold story of one group of Chinese migrants who have been ignored in current migration scholarship. Moreover, it clarifies theoretical issues that are vague in current scholarship on Chinese networks in particular and on globalization in general, namely, the paradox between particularistic ties and universalistic global networks; the role of metropolises as nodes in Chinese global networking; the ?dentity definition crisis?of Chinese migrants in a global context.
This thesis demonstrates that Chinese networks exhibit large varieties in content and form, and experience rise-and-falls in ?ife cycles? Networking is the arena in which constant conflicts and negotiations of capital, power and identities occur and carry on in circles, rather than straightforward and presumed outcome of ascribed connections. Networking is accomplished through dialectical processes between particularistic and universalistic ties, and between globalization and localization. The inner flexible mechanism of particularistic ties enables them to meet the demand of globalization and thus turn into a medium to establish universal connections. Simultaneously, universalistic and global connections strengthen particularistic ties, and reproduce locality.
Chinese networks in the global era differentiate spatially from historical ones. While the latter is a bipolar China-oriented network, the former, as in the case of the Palembang Chinese, is a de-centered, multiple-faceted and hierarchical network system with Hong Kong as its central node. This network constitutes a sub-network and a sub-cultural unit of larger Chinese networks and, through the interlocking of these sub-networks, a system of global Chinese networks emerges.
Associated with formation of new types of networks is the surfacing of an ?xtraterritorial identity?of the Indonesian Chinese, which is ?ere but not here? ?prooted but not ungrounded? and ?hinese but not Chinese? With such an identity, they do not count on any territorial, national entity or ethnic attachment, but rely on the social relations within their own group. This identity challenges popular discourses on Chinese identities, and through identity, challenges the understanding of ?hineseness? A postmodernist perspective which extols a ?ew cultural politics of difference? the author believes, provides the means by which to achieve a more meaningful and constructive perception of ?hineseness?
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:chinese indonesia immigrants social networks china hong kong group identity
Date of Publication:01/01/2004