Neither this nor that: The hyphenated existence of Chinese children growing up in twentieth century North America

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This project takes its evidence from Chinese North American authors who have written about their own lives or those of members of their immigrant community. Authors such as Denise Chong, Wayson Choy, Ben Fong-Torres, Amy Tan, and Yuen-Fong Woon have written autobiographical fictions, fictionalized biographies, and family histories that delve into Chinese communities in Canada and America. These authors have opened windows into the personal worlds of their communities, and this project attempts to analyze what can be seen. Although racism is discussed in all the literature, it remains peripheral to themes of connections to China, family dynamics, generational conflicts, and formal and informal education. Through their historical novels or fictionalized ethnographies they attempt to understand their families and cultural history, to come to terms with their hyphenated existence, and to assuage their existential angst at being viewed as neither 'this nor that,' neither 'truly' Chinese, nor 'truly' Canadian.

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Department of History - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Project (M.A.)