P42. Chinese Nationalism and State Building

Session: Session 6, 2:00 – 3:30 pm, Saturday 9/30

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Innovation

Chair: Alina Stetsuk (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenter: Yuxin Wang

Confucianism and Chineseness: Constructing Chinese National Identity in Southeast Asian Colonies

Speaker: Yuxin Wang
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Kansas
Abstract: This study analyzes the texts of Lim Boon Keng and Lee Teng Hwee to understand how they utilized Confucianism to construct their Chinese identity. Lim Boon Keng (1869-1957) and Lee Teng Hwee (1872-1946) belonged to Chinese diaspora born in Southeast Asian colonies who became colonial elites through receiving primary and higher education in English. However, with the rise of Chinese nationalism in Southeast Asia, they began to try to construct their Chinese identity. Both of them used Confucianism as a symbol of Chinese culture and identity while interpreting Confucianism in their own way. Their interpretations reflect their understanding of Chinese and Western cultures and also demonstrate the difficulties they faced as Western-educated elites in constructing their Chinese identity. This study analyzes their experiences of cultural identity conflict and their coping strategies by examining their written texts alongside their early colonial experiences. Through their publications, I argue that they had to interpret Confucianism from a Western stand, although they may have different strategies in doing this.