Ethnic Identity and Immigrant Organizations

The Deployment of Ethnicity by Chinese in South Australia

In: Journal of Chinese Overseas

Abstract

The identities of Chinese immigrants and their organizations are themes widely studied in existing literature but the link between them remains under-researched. This paper seeks to explore the role of Chinese ethnicity in Chinese immigrants’ self-organizing processes by empirically studying Chinese community organizations in South Australia. It finds that Chinese immigrants have deployed ethnic identities together with other social identities to call different organizations into being, which exerts an important influence on the emergence and performance of the five major types of Chinese community organizations active in South Australia. Moreover, the ways in which Chineseness is deployed have been heavily influenced by three factors within and beyond the community. These factors are the transformation of the local ethnic-Chinese community, changing socio-political contexts in Australia, and the rise of China. In short, the deployment of ethnic identities in Chinese immigrants’ organizing processes is instrumental, contextual, and strategic.

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