J. Dale Wilson - Postdoctoral Associate, Council on East Asian Studies, Yale University
The fountainhead of early Chinese migration to North America originated in the Pearl River delta of Guangdong Province. Up until 1960, more than half of the ethnic Chinese in the United States came from the small rural county of Taishan, located in the Pearl River delta. In recent years, the culture of the Pearl River delta (the culture of the Taishanese), referred to by Chinese scholars as Guangfu culture, has become an object of scholarship for a number of Chinese social scientists. Some recent Chinese studies have explored the cultural dimensions of issues such as Guangfu emigration and the economic development of the Pearl River delta. This presentation is based on field research conducted in a Taishanese linage village between the years 1997-2001. The talk interweaves conversations with Taishanese villagers with some of the theoretical concerns of contemporary Chinese social scientists. Using data from fieldwork in Taishan and data from recent Guangfu scholarship, this project seeks to articulate a dialectical relationship between Taishanese essence, being Taishanese, and discursive constructions of Guangfu culture.