Identifying and Mapping Issues, Theories, & Research in Asian/American Rhetoric(s): An Annotated Bibliography

Introduction to On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Ang, Ien. “Introduction.” On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West. London: Routledge, 2001.

In the introduction to On Not Speaking Chinese, Ang centers on identity as it pertains to the postcolonial diasporic intellectual, “born in the Third World and educated and working in the West,” reflecting on her own experience as a Chinese born in Indonesia, and raised in the Netherlands (1). Of particular interest to rhetoric studies and Asian/American rhetoric(s) is Ang’s notion of hybridity, that space between Asia and “the West”: “‘Hybridity’ captures in a shorthand fashion the complexities and ambiguities of any politics in an increasingly globalized, postcolonial and multicultural world, a world in which heroic, utopian ideas of revolutionary transformation seem seriously out of touch even as sites of social struggle and political conflict have multiplied… Hybridity, here, should not be dismissed pejoratively as the merely contingent and ephemeral, equated with lack of commitment and political resoluteness, but should be valued in James Clifford’s words, ‘as a pragmatic response, making the best of given (often bad) situations…in limited historical conjunctures’. (3) In this way, Ang is particularly effective for grounding discussions of hybridity with rhetorical purpose: “Hybridity is a necessary concept to hold onto in this condition, because unlike other key concepts in the contemporary politics of difference–such as diaspora and multiculturalism–it foregrounds complicated entanglement rather than identity, togetherness-in-difference rather than virtual apartheid” (3).

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