Narrating and displaying China and Chineseness: white dominance, white saviourism and decoloniality

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Who are the Chinese and what is China? These are seemingly irreverent and vacuous questions. Surely, the answers are evident to any Cartesian-minded person. And yet these are questions I have increasingly felt the need to address over the past three decades, from the moment I started questioning my own position, posing the questions about the source of my legitimacy to inquire into and narrate China and "the Chinese", which in turn demanded that I ask what, when and who constituted China and the Chinese.[1]

For the purposes of this brief essay, let China be the reality that is the People's Republic of China today – plus "the Chinese-speaking world", a world beyond the confines of mainland China both geographically and historically, a world fragmented, complex and diasporic. And let "the Chinese" be not only the people who populate these imagined and real spaces, but also those who, for the white person, "look Chinese". In evoking the latter, I am thinking of hybrid communities; communities that I call Chinese British, but also those who prefer to refer to themselves as British East Asian or British East and South-East Asian.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationPostcolonial Politics
PublisherCentre for Postcolonial Studies, Goldsmiths University of London
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2023


  • Decoloniality
  • Colonialism
  • China
  • Chinatown
  • Hybrid
  • Racism
  • Franoise Vergès
  • Stuart Hall
  • White dominance
  • White saviourism


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