Society and Identity
Due to colonial history and uneven political economy, European culture had strong impact on Asia. After colonial powers were gone, these European legacy remains. In this panel, four panelists would like to compare European legacy remains in Asia and take a closer look on how it shaped Asian modern life based on our research interests in cultural construction and ethnic identity.
First of all, Yang’s paper entitled “Complementary Culture and Cultural Complements—Spanish Cultural Legacy on Batanes Islands, Philippines” discusses the cultural legacy of Spanish colonial rule in contemporary Batanes Islands. He suggests that bearers of both the Ivatan and the Spanish cultures are making efforts to connect each other either by historical discourse or through contemporary interaction. The Spanish legacy found in daily practices is also discussed to examine the phenomena of complementary culture and cultural complements which refers to a win-win situation for two cultures.
Secondly, in the paper entitled “European Visual Archives as Island-state’s Collective Memories: John Thomson’s Photography and the Making of Formosan History”, Wang delves into modern discourses on Thomson’s visual archives to see how the images were recruited as Taiwan’s collective memories. Thomson’s visual archives created a vivid scenario for understanding the complex process of Euro-Asian history-making in the context of nativist movement or even cultural nationalism.
In the third paper entitled “Global “Hakka: On the Powerfulness of Ethnic Terminology in Asia”, Liu tries to clarify the link between the European creation of terminology “Hakka” which refer to those who spoke a particular dialect in southeastern China, and Hakka immigrants who developed various patterns of adaptation and formed particular cultural life in East Asia. The formation of transnational Hakka identity is a critical aspect for understanding the magic-like efficiency of “Hakka”.
Last but not least, Chai’s paper entitled “Cuisine Exclusion as Cultural Identity: Burmese-Chinese in Portuguese-shaped Macao” explores how the Burmese-Chinese immigrants in Macao develop social networks with the Portuguese-shaped main society, but clearly maintain ethnic identity through food production and its dissemination within the internal community. For the Burmese-Chinese, food is a key bridge of connecting themselves with their mother country, alien impurities are not allowed to permeate in especially for the symbol of colony.
All in all, Europe and Asia intermingle with each other after centuries of cultural contact. Appreciation or Exclusion? European legacy will or will not be in Asia to stay? Our panelists provide resourceful clues. Time will tell.