3.A to Y (Entries for an Inventionry of Dented ‘I’s)


Why be a ‘Y(B)B(AA)C(YRWBW/M)A—?’ Somewhere inside or between, attempting to enter / disrupt / bypass partitioned terrains, we might (fail to) identify those subjects struggling or juggling, to differing degrees, with or against some such awkward, ill-tasting mouthful of a Name-In-Capitals (or no caps?) as, ‘Young (Black) British (Anglo Asian) Chinese (Yellow Red White and Blue Wo/Man) Artist.’ An over-sized kite-mark of identity[1] – a stamp of approval validating the object’s attainment of often contradictory criteria, authenticating the goods as ‘good’ (be they physical bodies, or the intangible labours, desires, and fears invested / inflicted therein and upon), confirming fidelity to the label on the box. A kite, a mark – a precarious toy of skins spun and sewn, stretched and pinned to a light frame of words and cast into short-tempered cross-currents; a thing that flies, trailing fraudulent letters, sign, stain and scar of a dishonest person, signature-seal of a subject untrue.

What is this untidy (upper or lower case?) name / category of “unfinished identities”,[2] ‘leaking’ its subject(s) left, right and centre, up, down and under?[3] A random sequence compelling endless shifts and expansions? Cut up into manageable pieces – easier to get one’s mouth around, easier to swallow – we might be able to discern some of the more familiar variations along the often invisibly gendered, colour-coded themes of nationality and ethnicity: ‘Young British Artist,’ ‘Black British,’ ‘Anglo Asian,’ ‘Chinese Woman Artist’. We could abbreviate it, but the immediate acronym – YB(BAA)C(YRWBW/M)A? – is somewhat dysfunctional, clearly as much a twister for the tongue as the expanded designation it might displace.

Not outside the parentheses but in-between, the words ‘British’ and ‘Chinese’ (or ‘chinese’ and ‘british’) – the focus of the question? What she’s getting at? Losing and regaining focus, there is no thing to get – no object or condition to understand, possess, obtain, or contract – only something to get at, to hint at and taunt. How might we criticise, undermine, bully and nag[4] at ‘British’ and ‘Chinese’ as signifiers in tandem, near-newly wed? The idea of a focal point eludes, deludes. ‘Pivoting this imaginary centre,’[5] another perspective reveals the point to be a line, a wave, a vocal dis/chord – sounding and silencing the speaking (now major, now minor) of ‘British’ and ‘Chinese.’ Mindful of forgetting – I am for getting no thing, no fixed object / event, but for remembering my / your partiality, my / your imbrication in the making / unmaking of (claims to) knowledges; the specificity of experiences and ligature of histories, languages, generations and cultures;[6] between speech and silence, the trajectory and possibility of their mutual un/translatability in transit / transition, risking erasure under all-naming no-names. Whether speaking (of) a protracted / protracting ‘(Black) British (Anglo Asian) Chinese (Yellow Red White and Blue Wo/Man)ness,’ or a contracted / contracting ‘British Chinese-ness,’ what, in each practice or tactic of naming, is at stake?[7]


Some of us, sharing like motifs though not, perhaps, like motives, may appear to be searching for the same, but are in fact looking for same-ness – homogeneity, fixity and unity. How to counter the risk of reading / hearing ‘-ness’ as an essence, its acronymic ‘condensation’ as ‘distillation’ – the subject ‘purified’ – even as the name-chain refuses it? If upper case letters suggest Proper Names and generic representative types, each standing alone in a sequence of seemingly steadfast and stalwart natural/ised Monoliths, what happens if we divest them of their Capital(s), unpack and lower their cases, displace Property with impropriety? Made variable, capricious, as adjectives that name only in part, transitorily, that modify and describe, that transform the subject, and situate her / him erratically, emphatically in process – to think / speak / read / imagine ‘(black) british (anglo asian) chinese (yellow red white and blue wo/man) ness,’ or ‘(blue anglo black) chinese (white asian yellow) british (red wo/man) ness,’ or ‘british born south eastern northern southern bred london based hong kong chinese english broken cantonese-ness’ – may allow us to refer not to the permanently essential, but to the make-shifting provisional.

As pivotal, provisional terms contingent to history and geography, they must throw and be thrown into motion, in tandem, in continua with / as the subject at stake.[8] Played tactically, in/appropriately, as oxymoronic acronyms with meanings borne not in nor on the skin but as sometime adornments, accessories to performance, or crimes of fraudulence / inauthenticity, these are words to bear or bare tentatively, in speech-marks, for they can hook like burrs, and kite-mark you. Akron (end) onoma (name)[9] – (end)names not to end with, nor articulate with finality an object or purpose, but rather – for akron also carries the meaning ‘tip’ – to lean towards, hint at, a subject-becoming, beginning-again.


Asian Flew

A dense configuration of lines make tangible the delicate creases and soft folds of a pair of wide trousers; abruptly emptied of volume, they fall barely delineated towards sandal-clad feet. From the same point but in converse rhythm, the edge of a just-visible flowery sarong skirt hanging loosely over bared feet acquires a sudden richness of tone and texture. Rectangles of colour interrupt upper and lower planes, their patterns monochromatically echoed in the fabrics of the clothing. On the former, a cartoon-like stereotype of a moustachioed coloniser sporting dark glasses and pith helmet repeats, while the latter picks out several blooms in bright, flat colours.

Feet point to concepts of travel, journeying and movement across land.[10] Respectively bare and shod, they might hastily be read as oppositional signs of primitivism and civilisation, the ‘he’ in Lesley Sanderson’s He Took Fabulous Trips (1990) [Figs.1,2] representing the progressive masculine subject of exoticised narratives of colonialism, the unacknowledged ‘she’ an embodiment of supposedly backward feminine territories, orientalised and colonised.[11] Simultaneously present and absent, these figures occupy different spaces, are literally split; can the one come into visibility only at the cost the other? If it is ‘he’ who has undertaken the ‘fabulous’ – extraordinary and fictionalised – journeys to the subtropical climes inferred by their mode of dress, what and where is her part in the stories and their telling? Already relegated to a past tense, this temporal lapse adds an ambiguity to their relationship. Separated and subdivided within the same frame, yet nevertheless sharing a plane, a posture, an attitude, they appear to collude in their anonymity; the two are not so easily polarised. To what tall tales, what undisclosed, unreconciled narratives, fabulous and sedate, are we in turn invited, intruding upon or denied?

Between the “bold omissions and minute depictions” are mere hints of / at uncertain histories.[12] Despite the intimacy – we are sat like children before adult feet – incommensurable distances prevail; proximity does not bring with it the truths and identities of strangers. Who is speaking? Who is spoken or spoken to? How to listen to and translate these silences? Scant biographical details gesture towards a narrative of identity as a deceptively straightforward unified and dualistic equation – ‘Malaysian-British’, ‘Chinese-English.’ However, simple consideration of the mere ordering of these terms (which should come first?) stirs questions of origins, ‘home’ and belonging into an unsteady brew of identities, nationalities and ethnicities. How do the untold stories of travel and migration of He Took Fabulous Trips relate to the axes of difference that constitute the artist’s brief biography and the narratives by which her work has been framed? How might they be negotiated in relation to shifting critical and curatorial frameworks that seek identification with the ‘Black Art’ of a dis/assembled eighties,[13] the so-called ‘British Chinese’ art that began to emerge in the nineties, and the variable intersection of alternately dominant and marginalised ‘British’, feminist, and postcolonial agenda?

‘Black’ / ‘British’ / ‘Chinese’ – in print, at least, the terms alternate neatly, fairly and squarely between forward-slash swing-doors, though of course the meanings, histories, cultures and geographies evoked and disputed are not by any means even or discrete. In the 1980s, Sanderson’s inclusion in a number of so-called ‘Black Art’ shows in Britain,[14] is suggestive of the historical strategic mobilisation of ‘Black,’ to cite Stuart Hall, “as a way of referencing the common experience of racism and marginalisation in Britain” and of “provid[ing] the organizing category of a new politics of resistance, among groups and communities with, in fact very different histories, traditions and ethnic identities.”[15] The confrontational stance and use of the artist’s own image in early pieces by Sanderson such as Self-Portrait as a Chinky (1984) [Fig.3] and Fuck the British Movement (1984),[16] [Fig.4] are indicative of her strategic alignment, resistance and politicised artistic reflexivity as, in her own perception, “the only Chinese artist showing within the Black art movement.”[17]

Fuck the British Movement, which simultaneously defaces the artist’s image and that of the National Front, directly implicates the artist as an ambiguously aligned ‘Black’ / ‘British’ / ‘Chinese’ subject / other: British by education and nationality; English by name, northern English by accent; Chinese in appearance and, in part, ethnicity; Black (and feminist) in politics.[18] Adopting a nationalist symbol yet poised confrontationally in anti-fascist defiance, Sanderson’s androgynous look and impassive alliance with African and Asian communities targeted by violent, racist nationalists, are simultaneously at odds with the racial and sexualised stereotype of self-effacing, submissive Chinese. Complying neither with an historically exoticised orientalist femininity, nor with the post-Cold War image of an apolitical, assimilated “model minority” (if anything, invoking its fictional flipside – that of the devious, treacherous, perpetually alien descendant, out to overthrow the West), Sanderson resolutely obfuscates national, political, ethnic and gender identifications. Across a body of work that utilises meticulously rendered, naturalistic drawing techniques in the figural tradition of the Western academy, Sanderson’s appropriation of national, cultural, racialised and gendered symbols and gestures, and progressively collaborative practice with the artist Neil Conroy under the name Conroy/Sanderson, consistently underscores the politics and contradictions of multiple, ambiguous, feminist, post/colonial, native, touristic, hybrid, diasporic gazes and positionings.

The oscillating subject positions and political frames by which Sanderson has been interpellated over the last two decades repeatedly demonstrate the instability of terms and identifications. From ‘Black’ to ‘British,’ ‘(Black) feminist’ and ‘Asian,’ to ‘Chinese,’ each distinction proves at turns empowering and problematic, inclusive and exclusive, their meanings and constituencies continually contested. At the beginning of the nineties, Sanderson was selected for ‘The British Art Show 3’ (1990), a national touring showcase, and towards the end of the same decade, ‘Transforming the Crown’ (1997-8), a U.S. originated exhibition of “African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain.”[19] Her inclusion in the former is indicative both of the impact of the Black arts movement on the British art scene, and, arguably, of its subsumption by the dominant discourse, as well as the tactical identifications of individual artists.[20] By contrast, ‘Transforming the Crown’ proffered not a mere geographical scoping of current aesthetic practice, but a historical perspective on politically charged contemporary work, from a certain cultural, geographical – and linguistic – distance. The effacement or displacement of ‘black’ in this latter context foregrounds by subtle omission the fluctuating terms that may alternately homogenise and differentiate groups and communities. As Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer have affirmed, the category ‘black’ was, in a particular historical moment, “re-articulated… as a political term of identification among diverse minority communities of Asian, African and Caribbean origin, rather than as a biological or racial category.” [21] Paul Gilroy has similarly and influentially proposed the precarious doubling of ‘black’ in its politicised and racialised usage to invoke the “commonality” of “people…  of African, Caribbean or Asian descent,” referenced by the same “central, irreducible sign of their common racial subordination.”[22] Yet ‘black’, as a politicised position, a sign not of essential race but of and against racial subordination, nonetheless submits continually to an understanding and recognition of its (literal) face value.

‘Chinese’ is often been positioned as the “unspoken and invisible ‘other'” of ‘Black’ as well as ‘White’ cultural and aesthetic discourses.[23] The narratives implicitly or explicitly privileged by discourses around British ‘Black Art’[24] are indicated by the relative lack of debate around the term ‘Asian,’ a reflection of the comparative impact of migration (in terms of numbers) as part of the legacies of British colonialism in India, and, to a lesser degree, the ‘Far East’, as well as the subsequent concentration or dispersal of migrant populations. The inclusion or preclusion of ‘Asian’ under or from ‘Black’ in a transatlantic context significantly complicates attempts to think through the historical, cultural and political alliances and differences within and between ‘Black’, ‘British’, and ‘Chinese.’ In Britain, ‘Asian’ is usually taken to mean people from the Indian subcontinent; a geographical distinction is made between ‘South’ and ‘South East’ Asias, where, as Hall distinguishes, geography as opposed to ‘race’ designates ethnicity as a notion that recognises “that we all speak from a particular place, out of a particular history, out of a particular experience, a particular culture, without being contained by that position.”[25] Where, incidentally, might we find Asias ‘North’ and ‘West’? Where do ‘Near’ and ‘Far’ coincide? In a North American context, ‘Asian’ invokes a much broader ethnic spectrum, operating politically to include peoples from ‘Central,’ ‘East,’ ‘South East’ and ‘South Asia,’ as well as the Pacific Islands; it also worth noting that ‘Asian,’ in a pan-Pacific context, embraces Australia, the furthest outpost of ‘the West’.

Mercer and Julien have pointed to political analogies between the uses of ‘black’ and ‘people of color’ in the U.K. and U.S.,[26] invoked in binary opposition to ‘white,’ effectively ascribing a unifying agency to marginalised and disempowered subjects whilst paradoxically maintaining dualistic designations – their ultimate untenability increasingly argued in critical analyses and deconstructions of ‘white ethnicity’, ‘Englishness’ and ‘Britishness,’ as well as ‘blackness’. Yet it is worth noting that those who might come into visibility under the one risk invisibility under the other – Sanderson’s otherness, for example, might be simultaneously subsumed under ‘black’ but not ‘Asian’ in the U.K., and distinguished by contrast – not unproblematically – as ‘Chinese’, but also ‘Asian’, hence ‘of color’ in the U.S., alongside, rather than as ‘black.’  The triangulation of Sanderson’s alternate framings – citings and sitings – as ‘Black’ / ‘British’ / ‘Chinese’ works to complicate the dualistic narratives invoked by the conjunction ‘British Chinese,’ suggesting a complex alignment of different histories of migration bound up with slave and indentured labour, U.S. expansionist and British imperialist aggressions. However, the variable in/visibility of ‘Chinese’ in relation to the term ‘Asian’ between, for example, ‘British Asian’ and ‘Asian American,’ necessarily points to a further discursive frame, that relocates relatively recent narratives of Chinese immigrant experience within wider historical, diasporic narratives of Chinese migration.

B(B)Cs et al (Looking ‘West’, or North)

While ‘BBC,’ in Britain, is more likely to be taken to refer to the British Broadcasting Corporation (accessed globally via the ‘BBC World Service,’ its early incarnation as the ‘Empire Service’ a radio-transmitted reminder of its former imperial reach), than as an acronym for ‘Black British Chinese,’ it is often understood among Hong Kong and diasporic Chinese to denote ‘British-born Chinese,’ as ‘ABC’ is to ‘American-born Chinese,’ or ‘CBC’ is to ‘Canadian-born.’ If the Chinese government-approved category of ‘Chinese overseas’ encouraged displaced first-generation migrant subjects to remain loyal to their Chinese homeland,[27] the prevailing colloquial slang for subsequent generations, of ‘ABCs,’ ‘BBCs,’ and ‘CBCs’, stresses geographic disparity and variability, with ‘Chinese’ nevertheless implied as an axis, a pivotal term and point of reference emanating ethnicity and culture. In such abbreviated modes of identification, ‘Chinese’ is privileged as immutable fact, offset by the insignificance of birthplace as mere accident of geography.

‘ABC,’ ‘BBC,’ and its variations on a theme of ‘Chineseness,’ situate histories and experiences of migration across south east Asia and the West that predate “the great Chinese diaspora”[28] of the latter half of the nineteenth century,” paralleled by the large-scale movement of middle and upper-class Chinese in the late twentieth century, along an implicitly unchanging continuum of ‘Chineseness.’ Alongside ‘BBC’ and ‘ABC,’ the conjunctions ‘British Chinese’ and ‘Chinese American’ present terms seemingly accorded equal weighting, a comparison that reveals a fundamental disparity between the articulation of identities and subject positions apparently assured by the spectre of a timeless, ahistorical essentialism, and those founded on historical struggles for citizenship across continents, countries, and colonies. To drop the middle term – ‘born’ – from ‘British Chinese’ is to suggest the un-anchoring of fixed notions of race and nation, in favour of their configuration and potential contestation as constructed cultural, national subject positions. In the case of ‘Chinese American,’ the un-hyphenated terms may be symbolic of an unreconciled union. Alternatively, their ordering may suggest processes of assimilation and acculturation in the direction of immigrant to host country; if the ‘immigrant-as-prefix’ is read as a relationship of adjective to noun, it hints not only at possible ‘types’ of American (or Briton, as in ‘Black British’) but also at the host country’s transformation.[29] According to such a schema, ‘British Chinese’ might similarly be presumed to refer to an unreconciled duality of identities, cultures and histories, or indeed to Britons who have emigrated to China or Hong Kong – yet Britain’s colonisation of the latter ensures that British ex-patriots need not seek Chinese citizenship to reside there. Inverting the logic, ‘British Chinese’ would seem instead to derive from ‘British Hong Kong,’ as ‘British Asian’ relates to ‘British India,’ a nominal memory of imperial usurpation and re-assignation of subjects under colonial rule. (Now that Hong Kong has been returned to China, should the shift of power be signalled by re-imagining UK-based subjects from the Special Administrative Region as ‘diasporic Hong Kong SAR Chinese British’?)

Both ‘Chinese American‘ and ‘American-born Chinese,’ in the company of other hybrid monikers such as ‘Japanese American,’ or ‘American-born Vietnamese / Korean / Filipino,’ are habitually subsumed under the umbrella, ‘Asian American.’ Emerging on the U.S West Coast in the late 1960s, “spearheaded by militant youth and college students, who took on the tactics and political rhetoric of the American antiwar movement, the revolutionary activism of the Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Power movement,”[30] the Asian American movement “seized upon the United States as the site for contestation, to claim as a politicized, pan-Asian people its spaces and ideals.”[31] Seeking to unify ethnically diverse peoples from China, Japan, South and South East Asia and Asia Pacific, within and beyond college campuses, to become “a grassroots working-class community struggle for liberation and self-determination,”[32] the Asian American movement posed a direct challenge to the “predominating image of the forever-foreign, unassimilable “Oriental” through which Asianness in the United States had historically been coded.”[33] Its effects over subsequent decades has been to spawn numerous political organisations on the East Coast and elsewhere,[34] networks of student organisations in tandem with the proliferation (and contestations) of ‘Asian American’ histories, politics and cultures as multidisciplinary areas of academic study, as well as various artists collectives.[35] Questions around the “marginalization and exclusionary knowledge politics” within Asian American studies itself have been in play since its disciplinary inception,[36] reflected in gradual shifts in denominations and boundaries, which oscillate in their mobilisations and readings (not unlike ‘black’) between ethnic and political readings. Cautioning against the canonizing, stabilizing ‘fielding’ of otherness, Rey Chow asks,

How do we resist the turning-into-propriety of oppositional discourses, when the intention of such discourses has been that of displacing and disowning the proper? How do we prevent what begin as tactics… from turning into a solidly fenced-off field, in the military no less than in the academic sense?[37]

Elsewhere, Kandice Chuh observes,

… the grounding assumptions of to whom and to what “Asian American” refers, of the nature and constitution of the object of knowledge of Asian American studies, have faced repeated interrogation. Criticized for its homogenization of peoples, artefacts, and histories, and for its sometime deployment with masculinist and heteronormative biases and tacit East Asian orientation, “Asian American” as a term of criticism has never functioned as a label free of dispute.[38]

Reflecting such  disputes, the multifarious dilemmas of an “ancestry” that is “not continuous but fraught with displacements and destructions,” of identities “split between paradigms of distant grandeur and recent deprivation,”[39] whose “infinite heterogeneity” is barely secured by “fatally unstable” terms,[40] have found prolific expression in the literary, filmic, visual and popular affirmations and ‘interrogations’ made visible both through and in spite of, identification with / as ‘Asian American’ culture. [41]

(… Looking ‘East’, or South East)

Designated for the first time as an ethnic category in the 1991 U.K. census, the relative invisibility of the Chinese in Britain as a community has been attributed as much to their geographic disparity, as to an innate, racialised passivity.[42] The arrival of Chinese sailors in British ports such as Liverpool, London, Cardiff, and Glasgow from the late nineteenth century onwards was followed by two further waves of migration in the twentieth century, in the fifties and sixties, and again in the nineties. The first Chinese in Britain were “not sophisticated diplomats or merchants but reluctant émigrés, poor, ill-educated, and easily exploited by their own countrymen and foreigners alike.” Arriving

as migrants, not immigrants, and unlike those who went to Australia to look for gold, or to South Africa to dig coal, or to Malaya to mine tin, or to North America to build railroads, or to Cuba to tend sugarcane, they had no specific purpose in coming. They were not, on the whole, looking for long-term settlement, they were not very well-treated, and such economic niches as they occupied proved less than reliable as shipping dwindled and as steam laundries, and, later, laundrettes multiplied. [43]

By the 1950s, few traces of this first wave remained, while a combination of factors brought a second wave over the ensuing decade of mostly out-of-work erstwhile Hong Kong Chinese rice farmers, to meet a growing post-austerity demand for exotic food, their numbers (inclusive of family members) coming to constitute “probably 75 to 80 percent” of the Chinese in the U.K. by the 1980s. A third surge was expected in light of 1997, which Britain anticipated by denying passports and residency rights eligible to the 3.2 million born and raised on British territory, limiting numbers to 50,000 heads of households for fear of being swamped; despite the sustained trend throughout the 1980s and 1990s for Hong Kong Chinese to opt for North America and Australasia over Europe.[44] Sporadic news coverage echoed such fears, reiterating the U.S originated myth of the ‘model minority’ – their apoliticism and work ethic leading to assimilation and economic and academic success[45] – or, that of the surreptitious, pollutant alien presence; events over the last few years have fuelled concerns: the deaths by suffocation of fifty-eight Chinese asylum seekers in Dover, hidden in the back of a lorry in 2000; the scape-goating of the Chinese catering industry during 2001 the foot and mouth crisis;[46] the 2003 international SARS epidemic;[47] and the discovery of twenty-one drowned Chinese migrant workers in Morecambe Bay in 2004.[48]

Compared with campaigns for increased ‘Asian American’ representation in mainstream media beyond a handful of newsreaders, actors and models, ‘British Chinese’ and ‘British East Asian’ visibility in high and popular cultures and media has been lower still.[49] While signs of a pervasive ‘Chinese Americana’ perpetuate a supposedly innocuous ‘positive’ stereotype celebrating a hybrid ‘Chinese American’ identity (for example through the iconic Chinese American ‘take-out’ box or ‘fortune cookie’ – culturally indigenous, even quintessential, to America rather than China), a contemporary ’British Chinese’ iconography (‘British Chinoiserie’?) has yet to emerge.[50] The sparse yet enduring images of the last few decades include the 1970s’ (Japanese) imports Monkey and The Water Margin (retellings of classic Chinese tales dubbed in exaggerated mock-Chinese-accented English), nostalgia for which has been recently revived.[51] US imports over the same period included the popular children’s cartoon, Hong Kong Phooey, and drama series, Kung Fu. Some remember the 1980s British offering, The Chinese Detective;[52] others noted the short-lived appearance of a Chinese family in the TV soap, Brookside. Advertising imagery continues to feature noodle-slurpers and the occasional high-kicking barmaid, while four late night shorts, controversially called, The Missing Chink, have recently offered television’s first ‘British Chinese’ comics.[53]

A contributing factor to the absence of a comparatively visible, or visibly contested, politicised ‘British Chinese’ culture and identities, lies with the specificity of historical struggles and claims to citizenship (or lack of) rooted in fundamentally different relationships to host or destination countries. Chinese in America, among other Asian minorities, have had to fight against disenfranchisement, their settlements and rights restricted and regulated until the mid-twentieth century by the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the staggered repeal of which between 1943 and 1952 “dramatically changed the status of immigrants of all Asian origins, from ‘aliens ineligible to citizenship’ to that of ‘citizen’.”[54] The majority of Chinese migrants to Britain, however, have come from Hong Kong as British colonial subjects; early arrivals sojourned as seamen, those migrating in the 1950s and 1960s (permitted by the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act to bring dependants) retaining their status as Hong Kong residents, and a ‘right of abode’ which could then, prior to 1997 and the end of colonial rule, be passed on to their British-born offspring. Conversely, Hong Kong-born subjects had no such rights in relation to the ruling country, and, following the implementation of the 1981 British Nationality Act, entry to the U.K for dependants became harder:

In Hong Kong, residents are designated as  ‘British-Dependent Territory Citizens’ (BDTC) in the remnant corner of the empire, with limitless rights of travel but no rights to reside in Great Britain. When Hong Kong reverts to mainland China rule, these same residents will be called ‘British Nationals (Overseas)’ (BNO), with the conditions of domicile and travel unchanged. Hong Kong Chinese are thus normalised as an overseas population that is in but not of the empire: their partial citizenship rests on differences: of territoriality, coloniality, and (unmentioned) non-British origins.[55]

Though some ‘British (born) Chinese‘ subjects may enjoy a certain degree of what Aihwa Ong has called “flexible citizenship,” residing between two or more places according to economic and political circumstances, such mobility is, as Ong recognises, the preserve of “the cosmopolitan and affluent”, “that stratum of upper middle-class and upper-class diaspora Chinese who have the resources to negotiate and exploit the varied conditions of commerce and family residence in China, Britain, and other countries.”[56] Recent tragedies resulting from the illegal trafficking of immigrants from mainland China, around which disparate Chinese communities nationwide have begun to unite and mobilise, are a reminder of the darker narratives entwined with the privileged and sometimes romanticised accounts of diasporic subjectivities.

It is as significant, then, to consider the geographies encompassed by the Asia Pacific, across which Chinese have for centuries journeyed west, south west, east and south east, mythologically and historically, as it may be to compare ‘British Chinese’ and ‘Asian American’ cultures within a transatlantic frame. Hong Kong in particular remains a key site and portal, providing a transient residential base, offering virtual popular cultural continuity via satellite and cable channels, movies and online media, as well as through newspapers and magazines, and continuing to serve migrants as “a door in and out of China.”[57] The legacy of post/colonial ties is reflected in cultural as well as migrant flows and exchanges of diasporic Chinese in Britain, the wide dissemination of contemporary icons from Hong Kong’s ‘Cantopop’, film and television industries, often compensating for a considerable deficit of role models at ‘home’.[58] Within this broader context, ‘Oriental’, ‘East Asian,’ and ‘Chinese’ studies have developed as academic fields of inquiry since Britain’s first imperial forays into the ‘Far East,’ yet the significant production of cultural representations of Chinese in Britain – by Chinese in Britain – is a recent phenomenon, coinciding with the coming of age of largely second-generation immigrants, many university educated, and their large-scale departure from the catering industry into white-collar professions, though relatively few have moved towards the arts.[59] Those who have are looking both ‘east’ and ‘west’ to ‘Asian’ contemporaries in search of political, cultural and aesthetic ties, disconnections, and tactics of interrogation, confrontation, complicity and subversion;[60] in a landscape of increasingly bureaucratized cultural diversity, in a decade and a half that has seen artists from mainland China achieve notable success and notoriety in the West, and against a backdrop of the simultaneous ‘Westernisation of Asia’ and ‘Asianisation of the West’.[61]

Managing Diversity[62]

The term ‘British Chinese’ has emerged in the context of increasing governmental prioritisation of ‘diversity’ in its arts and social policies. Uncertainties around the relationships and distinctions between ‘Black,’ ‘Asian’ and ‘Chinese’ within or against ‘British’ art, have been evidenced in regional bureaucratic moves to alter existing funding parameters or invent them anew. A Chinese Arts Centre was established in Manchester by the Chinese View Arts Association in the late 1980s,[63] while the term ‘British Chinese’ was officially inaugurated with the establishment of the British Chinese Artists’ Association (BCAA) in 1991.[64] One regional funding body initially expanded the category of ‘Black’ to include ‘Chinese’; another distinguished between the ‘Chinese, East and South East Asian’ while allocating them a separate collective category.[65] As artists and curators continue to negotiate policy struggles to acknowledge, keep pace with and find a language for critical, reflexive practices that have long signalled the contentious and shifting landscape of ‘Britishness,’ while paradoxically maintaining their marginality, designations and definitions for ‘the other’ have wavered, consistent only in perpetuating (inadvertently or otherwise) the distinction of an unidentified, presumably ‘non-ethnic majority white art,’ by dint of its alternately ‘ethnic’ / ‘minority’ / ‘Black’ and latterly ‘culturally diverse’ others.

Since 1994, Arts Council England (ACE) has specified that ‘Cultural Diversity’ means “African, Caribbean, Asian, and Chinese Arts”,[66] or ‘Black Arts’ in shorthand, their communities “for the sake of brevity” similarly condensed to ‘Black and Asian.’ While acknowledging that such terms “[yoke] together a geographical and a race concept,” and “give a mistaken impression of homogeneity,”[67] they are nonetheless favoured in place of more “cumbersome” modes of nomenclature.[68] ‘Black art’ is in turn made interchangeable with ‘cultural diversity’, again despite recognition that ethnicity is but one of “multiple components that make up today’s diverse society” (such as “gender, age, geographical location, ability”),[69] while ‘diversity’ is then declared equivalent to ‘difference’. In ACE-speak, it would seem then that ‘African, Caribbean, Asian, and Chinese’ = ‘Black’ = ‘culturally diverse’ = ‘diversity’ = ‘difference’ – apparently discrete “components” or slices of a British pie. The paradigm invites investment in ‘pure’ and ‘authentic’ ahistorical traditions, yet also celebrates their contemporary ‘hybrid’ counterparts (perceived as intersecting slices). It is then somehow possible to claim both a purportedly “non-deterministic and challenging context created by Government thinking,” and, in contradiction, a decidedly determinist ‘Britishness’: from “the equal alliance of different cultural perspectives” emerges a “distinctively”, “quintessentially British”, “hybrid arts.”[70]

Reflecting this somewhat befuddled commitment was the earmarking, then inexplicable postponement, of 2001 as the ‘Year of Cultural Diversity’, a project subsequently extended into an eighteen-month programme and rebranded as 2002’s ‘The Big Idea’ – in turn later scrapped.”[71] Another rebranding and injection of millions of pounds resuscitated the initiative, launched finally in May 2003 as ‘decibel’, carrying the strap-line, ‘raising the voice of cultural diversity in the arts’, its logo, ‘dB’, standing also for ‘Diverse Britain’. While this last move lessened the finite ring of tokenism, it nonetheless set off alarm bells for cynical and weary practitioners wondering to what such a short-term project, with its conceptual naiveté and ‘stock in trade piety’, would amount.[72] If rhetorical euphemisms are “unhelpful because they presuppose normality to be white and everything else to be diverse”, how is it possible to have it several ways – a quintessentially British Black-African-Caribbean-Asian-Chinese-hybrid-pie (and eat it)?[73] The independently commissioned 2000 Runnymede report on the future of multi-ethnic Britain suggests that that pie is still somewhere in the stratosphere; far from “quintessentially hybrid”, the idea of Britishness continues to carry “largely unspoken racial connotations“: “the nation is usually imagined as white.”[74]

Playing the Other

Imperial connotations too; from the mid-nineties, the countdown to the return of Britain’s erstwhile colony, Hong Kong, to Chinese sovereignty, was accompanied by a colonial nostalgia manifested in the vogue – in culture, couture and cuisine – for ‘all things Chinese’.[75] For a short time, and in a hitherto disinterested climate, exhibitions of Chinese art seemed to proliferate, regionally, nationally and internationally. Some shows drew vague distinctions between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘contemporary’, others consisted of hastily thrown together surveys that offered uncritical juxtapositions of works by artists brought together irrespective of differences in practice, politics, generation, history or geography, superficially united by a casual reference to ‘the Chinese diaspora’, or even more loosely, ‘East Asia’. The ambition and generalisation underpinning an internationally touring large-scale exhibition which came to London’s Hayward Gallery in 1999, was reflected in its lengthy subtitle: ‘Cities on the Move: Urban Chaos and Global Change – East Asian Art, Architecture and Film Now.’ Followed the same summer by ‘000zerozerozero’ at London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery, “a celebration of British Asian culture” which found some artists migrating from one context to the other, both projects raised again the question of boundaries – who and where are ‘East / British Asia(n)’?[76] What and when are the slippages between? While timely group shows have been effective in generating a degree of exposure, bringing many isolated individuals into contact with one another, they have also promoted unease over the celebratory rhetoric by which artists are frequently brought under the same indiscriminate ‘diverse’ umbrella – the convenience packaging presented by the artists’ apparent ethnicity left unaddressed, despite the conflicts and contradictions in practice, politics, generation, history or geography evidenced by the works themselves, a dilemma familiar to many an old or newly designated so-called ‘minority’.[77]

With the hindsights afforded by the histories and legacies of ‘black art’ in Britain since the 1980s, and the prevailing apoliticism of the ‘YBA’-dominated 1990s, the mobilisation of the term ‘British Chinese’ has been unsurprisingly wary and contentious. (Just as well then that no sooner has ‘Chinese’ begun to come into visibility as a category distinct from or encompassed by ‘Black’, than the curatorial tide seems to have turned against so-called ‘single ethnicity’ projects, though cynics might say that they simply turn up as ‘multi-ethnicity’ projects.) Debated in terms of access to funding and the ‘mainstream’, integration and segregration, ‘British Chinese’ has proved an unending “source of division, derision and dissatisfaction.”[78] If a younger constituency appear more willing to embrace the term, reflecting perhaps both a greater embeddedness and investment in British culture, and a simultaneous lack of certainty about the nature of their ‘Chineseness’, this seems to be conversely mirrored by the assurance of an older generation as to the ‘purity’ of their own ethnic and cultural identities, distinct from their identities as British citizens, a legal status bestowed by their passports.[79] ‘British Chinese’ culture is thus often situated as at once integrated with ‘contemporary British culture’ and outside of, separate from ‘traditional Chinese’ culture, an unwieldy ‘catchall’ that has undoubtedly been useful in increasing visibility (whosevisibility?), yet fails repeatedly and inevitably to address the experiences and demands of its disparate constituencies. Is it possible, for example, to recuperate the late Li Yuan Chia, who migrated from China to Britain,establishing his own museum and practising as an artist for some forty years, as a forebear in an as-yet-unwritten history of ‘British Chinese’ artists?[80] A conference on ‘Contemporary Chinese Arts in the International Arena’ in 2002 both magnified and complicated the double-conflicts facing so-called ‘British Chinese’ artists, marginalised not only by dominant discourses around contemporary British art, but also contemporary Chinese art, newly valorised by an international curatorial and market agenda.[81] How is the ‘Chinese’ in ’British Chinese’ to be articulated or corroborated in this conjunction of terms? Can it only be read in a similar fashion to ‘Asian,’ which for some merely “qualifies the term artist to deplete it”?[82] Does it follow that enough ethnic, national labels, seen as supplementary, can devalue an artist by increments, to nil? Conversely, such applications of ‘Chinese’ are countered by sinocentric practices, equally essentialised and racialised signifiers in which, to cite Rey Chow, “Everything Chinese… is fantasized as somehow better – longer in existence, more intelligent, more scientific, more valuable, and ultimately beyond comparison.”[83] In both scenarios, ‘Chinese’ and ‘Chineseness’ are configured as transcendentally or fundamentally, irreconcilably ‘other’; the hierarchical opposition of ‘China’ and ‘the West’, imaginary entities distinguished by ambiguous and highly contested boundaries, inverted.

Beyond the singling out of an ‘ethnicity du jour’ or mere celebration of a ‘difference’ and ‘hybridity’ as stable products of hierarchised cultural encounter, the challenge, in the face of the deceptive redundancy of terms, may be one of strategy – how to play, gamble, cheat and unpack the ‘card’ or category at stake, in recognition of how the moment, and with it the game of alignments, differentiations and possible tactics, have changed? Against a backdrop of Chinese-themed survey shows, and echoing artist-organised precedents in the U.S.,[84] the exhibition ‘numbersix’ (1998) in Brixton constituted an early instance of so-called ‘British Chinese’ artists collectively curating a project that sought critical positionings in relation to their habitual ethno-national classifications, the title an oblique reference to the catering industry.[85] Prior to ‘numbersix’, a notable exception to the prevalent group shows featuring Chinese and East Asian artists was the critical curatorial framework offered by ‘I Am Not What I Am’ (1996). Rejecting the conventional format of a survey show, seven exhibitions by U.K. and U.S. based artists unfolded over several months, staggered temporally and spatially across four sites: Kary Ka-Che Kwok at the Camerawork Gallery, London; Ik-Joong Ka and Lynne Yamamoto at Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery; Ken Chu and Wenda Gu at the Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham; Lauri Sing and Gavin Lee at the Zone Gallery, Newcastle. The project, curated by Barbara Hunt and Suzy Kerr, offered a paradigm for simultaneously invoking and placing under erasure the limits of identity and ethnicity, reaching generationally and geographically across diasporas to address

… the difficult and complex challenge which artists confront, within the art world and society, as they struggle to resist stereotyping and categorisation. In the international art world, ‘otherness’ has become foregrounded in cultural production, often to the exclusion of all other aesthetic, theoretical or political content. This has become particularly problematic for artists who, because of their race, gender or sexual orientation, are unequivocally positioned as ‘other’ and their work only read within this limiting framework.[86]

Perhaps the highest profiled of ‘British Chinese’ shows over the last decade, however, was ‘Ten Thousand Li: Chinese Infusion in Contemporary British Culture’ (2002-3),[87] a national touring exhibition which brought together four artists framed by literal distances and metaphorical removes from Chinese (and British) culture(s), and less explicitly by lens-based medium (the exhibition was organised by the Open Eye, Liverpool). Dinu Li’s photographic series, Secret Shadows (2001),explored the living spaces of Chinese illegal immigrants, intimately detailing shoes, bedding, a comb, a makeshift side-table, the identities of temporary inhabitants remaining anonymous beyond the frame; Yuen Yi-Lo’s Women.Script.II – Work in Progress 01 (2000) and A Mad Woman Speaks (1999), employed drawing, print, sewing, collage, video stills, computer manipulated imagery and references to ‘nüshu’to investigate social, visual and linguistic constructions of Chinese women; in Pamela So’s postcard work, Role Play (2001), laser printed Dress Code Series (2001) and video piece, Chinese Chest (2001), the clothes of three generations of women found residing in an old family chest become costumes or props to be mobilised in a play and rejection of multiple identities and femininities.

“Ten Thousand Li” is the Chinese name for the Great Wall, where ‘li’ refers to a traditional unit of measurement, approximate to a third of a mile. Moreover, the title is a reference to Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club (1989), “in which a feather from a ‘thousand li’ away is to be passed on from a Chinese mother to her American daughter.”[88] Evoking narratives of migration and issues of cultural continuity across generations and geographies, the curatorial framework effected a partial shift away from ideas of authenticity and ethnicity, albeit romantically. Nevertheless, the notion of ‘Chinese infusion’ simultaneously invokes the brews and concoctions of Chinese herbal medicine, imbuing metaphors of immersion, injection, extraction and pervasion with a note of the exotic. The juxtaposition of terms infers an admixture that situates an elusive ‘something Chinese’ within a dominant British cultural frame, suggesting an unequal one-way relationship of assimilation / accommodation, in which ‘Britishness’ and ‘Chineseness’ nevertheless remain somehow intact.

Though ten thousand may be an alluring and impressive figure, satisfyingly round, the very repetition of loops in those zeros inscribing comfortingly closed circuits of ‘here-and-there,’ ‘home-and-away,’ such allusions to a pervasive, tautological paradigm of diaspora that presupposes the ethnically grounded, culturally centred fixity of ‘home’ needs to be resisted, in recognition of the impossibility of return. A simple conversion from ‘li’ to the more prosaic (from a Western perspective) ‘mile,’ might help to relinquish the exotic embellishments and ethnographic undertones of acts of measuring and grouping, whilst alluding to the mundane migrant necessity of translation, and dilemmas of ‘conversion’. Splintering that flawless sum and displacing its root, the distance travelled in the oblique trip to a place and back (by a never-same route) becomes, then, immeasurable, always-already unlimited: 3333… point 3 to infinity.

We Are Not What We Are

At different times, ‘England’ has presented for many like and unlike the young Salman Rushdie in Bombay “as wonderful a prospect as Oz”; and like Dorothy’s ‘Kansas,’ is “no more real.”[89] From bare feet and sandals to ruby slippers and home:

The real secret of the ruby slippers is not that ‘there’s no place like home,’ but rather there is no longer any such place as home: except, of course, for the home we make, or the homes that are made for us, in Oz: which is anywhere, and everywhere, except the place from which we began.[90]

Unsettled, resettled, determined not by locale per se, but as much through journeys and traversals, literal and metaphorical, small and large, tame and fabulous. It is these that are suggested by Sanderson’s He Took Fabulous Trips, invoking between broad caricaturistic strokes and sober details both generalised and heterogeneous narratives; the subtle complications and twists to a tale or tales that involve movements – geographical, cultural and linguistic – in at least two directions, and the contingent negotiation of the ambiguities of positioning between ‘traveller’ / ‘tourist’ / ‘coloniser’ / ‘emigrant’ / ‘colonised’ and ‘migrant’. Fanciful stories of adventures ‘East’ come into tension with those less heard of migrations ‘South’, ‘North’ and ‘West’, towards such equally fabulous destinations as ‘England’. Through this imaginary land the ‘Yellow Brick Road’ winds a precarious passage, resonating with the racialised stereotyping of Chinese as the ‘Yellow Peril,’[91] as well as the immigrant-as-sojourner’s hopes of returning home, and the laborious work of reinventing and building a way of life overseas. Exceeding simplistic ‘here/there’ narratives, He Took Fabulous Trips offers an oblique glimpse into unfathomed archives, its blanks and omissions pointing to the gaps, complexities and departures in so many ongoing, fragmented stories of the so-called ‘Chinese diaspora’ that, in Britain – behind and beyond the one-dimensional ‘public face’ – are also stories of ‘not-Chineseness,’ ‘not-Britishness,’ ‘not-Blackness,’ ‘not-Asianness.’ Sanderson‘s relatively recent framing as a Chinese artist, or specifically, as a contemporary Chinese woman artist in diaspora, marginal to the increasingly commodified male-dominated arena of contemporary Chinese art,[92] coincides with a significant change in her practice since the late nineties, now explicitly undertaken in collaboration with the artist Neil Conroy; the very conjunction Conroy/Sanderson stalling habits of identification and recognition, underlining the limits and transgression of categories, and complicating ‘same/other’, ‘insider/outsider’, ‘West/non-West’ binaries.

Mutations and reinventions of name mark successive generations of migrations, responses to shifting socio-cultural frames and idiosyncracies of language and place: last-names become first-names, and first-names last; English names are given or adopted, and Chinese names dropped, combined or hyphenated: Westernisation and assimilation eventually appear complete, at least on paper. Maxine Hong Kingston has suggested, “The Chinese I know hide their names; sojourners take new names when their lives change and guard their real names with silence.”[93] Seemingly painless transitions bely the lengthy, perhaps unending procedures towards ‘naturalisation’ and ‘flexible citizenry,’ and the convoluted histories that traverse Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, South China, Canada, or the Caribbean, departing from the usual stories, or their expectation.[94]Such trajectories point to the existence of narratives marginalised within already marginalised narratives, their ‘transgressions’ alerting us to the wider historical and cultural contingencies between ‘majorities,’ ‘minorities,’ and diasporas, usually perceived as discrete and coherent entities occupying equally discrete territories, with segregrated cultures and heritages in tow.

As the recently minted moniker ‘British-Chinese’ gains and loses currency – a novelty for some, a wearisome label for others – each invocation triggers one or another attempt to articulate an affiliation or otherwise to the terms in tandem and apart. That a complicated and variable neither-one-nor-other identity could be so concisely framed might prove momentarily satisfying or discomforting: swept into a collective ethno-national category, swept under the weight and weightlessness of a name that proffers the impossible – a seemingly irresistibly seamless suturing of languages, cultures, generations and geographies. For some, ‘Chineseness’ remains as an atemporal, immutable if somewhat elusive element, arguably affirmed by birthplace, kinship, language and culture. For others, voluntary or forced relocations and dispersals of family and community make difficult notions of heritage in unevenly / inequitably bi- or multi-linguistic and cultural environments. A one-time readiness to identify with ‘British Chinese’ might now be replaced by hesitancy; rather than abandon the term altogether, it is deployed with caution.[95]

Perhaps, with caution, we can displace the notion of the ‘quintessential’ with the ‘rudementary’ (sic): a ‘rudemental Britishness’ – or ‘Chineseness’ – with imperfect, pidgin beginnings, improvised and undeveloped. ‘Rude’ in the sense of roughly made, sometimes impolite and offensive, lacking subtlety or accuracy – its shortcomings necessarily recognised if it is to somehow belong to those disparate subjects and communities it presently excludes and elides. Perhaps we can also retrieve those bureaucratically-unfriendly, cumbersome and inconvenient long-handed arts council nomenclatures, “people who are of Asian, African and Caribbean descent,” to insist upon a degree of visibility, even as the terms on offer are not really cumbersome enough, invariably belying the contention, unruliness and leakage of categories. Dispensing with pies (and pots), we might then begin to articulate a rudemental ‘black british anglo asian Chinese yellow red white blue-ness—’, or a ‘british born south-eastern / northern  / southern-schooled london-based hongkong-chinese English broken-cantonese-ness—‘ – subjects in the make-shifting, inauthentic, ambivalent and impure, whose self-taught inscriptions, appropriations and improvisations, historical, economic, linguistic and cultural necessities are more ‘pidgin-all’ than original. As “de-originated” subjects,[96] yet time and again mistaken for some ‘other’ and an ‘elsewhere,’ it is often necessary to claim careful contingency to so many historical, cultural and political legacies of the marginal, and yet to insist upon the indiscretion of unnatural denominations. For ‘these colours run’;’[97] and, as the Vietnamese-American-postcolonial-feminist-artist-intellectual-filmmaker-theorist-hybrid[98] Trinh T. Minh-ha has said, “categories always leak.” Remembering too, Ien Ang:

If I am inescapably Chinese by descent, I am only sometimes Chinese by consent. When and how is a matter of politics.[99]

Given the right timing, as an opening – though never closing – gambit, is it possible to play a ‘false hand’? To consent, sometimes, to several names, always at least and not-quite ‘yellow and british and asian and white and chinese and black—‘, never curtailed to the one? Such play intimates at least two-way flow between ‘British’ and ‘Chinese’ cultures, and the subjective and collective necessity of an at least “double-consciousness”[100] in the face of at least ‘triple binds.’[101] As Hall reminds us, “belonging is a tricky concept,” the difficulty falling on the inaudible and not-always visible, yet persistent, hyphen, that signals the conflictual yet necessary intertwinings of mutually imbricated identities and histories; its “predicament and potency” or ‘trickiness’ lies in negotiating difference as neither fixed nor interchangeable components, but as contingent and unstable processes, sometimes untranslatable. To borrow from Trinh, the challenge of the hyphenated reality lies in the ‘becoming’ British (-) Chinese –

… a transient and constant state: one is born over and over again as hyphen rather than as fixed entity… refusing to settle down in one (tubicolous) world or another.[102]

[1] “Kitemark n. An official kite-shaped mark on goods approved by the British Standards Institution; kite n.1 a toy consisting of a light framework with thin material stretched over it, flown in the wind at the end of a long string. 2. any of various soaring birds of prey… 3. Brit. slang an aeroplane. 4. slang a fraudulent cheque, bill, or receipt… 6 slang a letter or note, esp. one that is illicit or surreptitious. 7 (in pl.)  the highest sail of a ship, set only in a light wind. 8. Archaic a dishonest person, a sharper; mark n.1 a trace, sign, stain, scar, etc., on a surface, face, page, etc. 2… a written or printed symbol… b a numerical or alphabetical award denoting excellence, conduct, proficiency, etc… 3…a sign or indication of quality, character, feeling, etc.…  4 a a sign, seal, etc., used for distinction or identification. b a cross etc. made in place of a signature by an illiterate person 5 a  a target, object, goal, etc…” Delia Thompson, ed., The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9th edition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998).

[2] Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993) p.1.

[3] “Despite our desperate, eternal attempts to separate, contain and mend, categories always leak.” Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Woman Native Other (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989) p.94.

[4] “Within the trajectory I am following then, modernism serves as the symbolic order which encompasses and defines all the activities I am concerned with, and the concept of nagging and its repetitive nature can be perceived as an intervention that takes place in relation to linear concepts of progress which serve as modernism’s most fundamental informing values… the nagging, plaintive voice with its circular and repetitive qualities serves in some way to interrupt or disrupt or even slightly agitate the surface of modernism’s commanding direction…” Irit Rogoff, ‘Tiny Anguishes: Reflections on Nagging, Scholastic Embarrassment, and Feminist Art History,’ Differences,1992 vol.4, no.3, pp.38-65.

[5] Bettina Aptheker’s expression, “to pivot the center,” is cited in Elsa Barkley Brown, ‘African-American Women’s Quilting: A framework for Conceptualizing and Teaching African-American Women’s History,’ Signs, 1989 vol.14, no.4.

[6] I use this term in a discussion of Trinh T. Minh-ha’s work in ‘Staging / Translating: Surname Viet Given Name Nam,’ Third Text, no. 46, Spring 1999, pp.61-72.

[7] The premium placed on youth deserves further discussion, but unfortunately lies beyond the scope of this paper.

[8]adjicere adject – throw to, add, attribute…’ Thompson, ed. op.cit.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Jane Beckett, ‘Displacements,’ in These Colours Run exhibition catalogue (Wrexham Library Arts Centre, 1994), p.14.

[11] Lesley Sanderson, He Took Fabulous Trips (1990), pencil and acrylic on paper.

[12] Trinh T. Minh-ha, ‘Bold Omissions and Minute Depictions,’ in Trinh, When the Moon Waxes Red: Representation, Gender and Cultural Politics (New York and London: Routledge, 1991) pp.155 – 166.

[13] A reference to the conference at which an early version of this chapter was presented. ‘Shades of Black: Assembling the Eighties,’ 19-22 April, 2001, Duke University, North Carolina, organised by Aavaa (the African and Asian Visual Artists Archive), University of East London.

[14] Sanderson featured in ‘Black Art: Plotting the Course,’ 1988, Oldham Art Gallery and touring; ‘Fourx4,’ 1991, Harris Museum, Preston; and ‘History and Identity: Seven Painters’ (1991), Norwich Gallery and touring.

[15] Stuart Hall, ‘New Ethnicities,’ in David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen, eds. Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (New York and London: Routledge, 1996), pp.441-449.

[16] Lesley Sanderson, Self-Portrait as a Chinky (1984), oil on paper, and Fuck the British Movement (1984), pencil on paper.

[17] “… the Chinese were placed in or on the margins of representation and were rarely the authors of their own representation. In Britain in the eighties, it was no coincidence that I started using the self-image at the same time that other young artists of colour were doing the same. The personal was seen as political and taking authorship of one’s own image seemed to me to be a quiet but powerful act capable of subtly subverting the patriarchal Western canon.” Lesley Sanderson, ‘Always At Odds – An Evolving Response,’ paper presented at the conference, ‘Contemporary Chinese Art in the International Arena,’ British Museum, 18-20 April, 2002, organised in collaboration with the Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester.

[18] “I am half Chinese but, in name I seem to be British; I look quite Chinese but sound very English; my mother is Chinese, but I speak Malay; I was born and brought up in Malaysia where my parents still live, and yet, in Malaysia I am continually asked where I come from; I was educated and now live in Britain where I am also asked where I come from.” Sanderson, ibid.

[19] ‘The British Art Show 3,’ McClellan Galleries, Glasgow and touring, 24 January – 12 August, 1990; ‘Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain 1966-1996,’ Caribbean Cultural Center, New York, 10 October 1996 – 2 February 1997; The Bronx Museum and Studio Museum, New York, March 1998.

[20] In artist and curator Rasheed Araeen’s ‘Postcript’ to ‘The Other Story,’ an exhibition of artists of African and Asian descent at the Hayward Gallery, London, 1989, Araeen writes, ‘[Anish] Kapoor, [Shirazeh] Houshiary and [Dhruva] Mistry, as well as Kim Lim and Veronica Ryan, were in fact invited to participate but they declined. I understand their fears, and sympathize with their positions. But the success of these artists does not vindicate the establishment or invalidate my argument. Can we separate the success of some of the above artists from the anti-racist struggle waged particularly against the art establishment in the 70s? Instead of a serious debate within the dominant discourse, we now have new categories – ‘black art’, ‘ethnic art’, and phoney pluralism to confuse the issue.” Rasheed Araeen, ‘Postscript’, in Araeen, The Other Story: Afro-Asian artists in post-war Britain (London: South Bank Centre, 1989) pp.105-6. Other artists represented in ‘The British Art Show 3’ included Black Audio Film Collective, Sonia Boyce, Vong Phaophanit, Veronica Ryan and Shafique Uddin. ‘The British Art Show 4’ (1996) included work by Permindar Kaur, Steve McQueen and Chris Ofili. ‘The British Art Show 5’ (2001) featured Runa Islam, Donald Rodney, and Amikam Toren.

[21] Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer, ‘De Margin and De Centre,’ first printed as the ‘Introduction’ to Screen vol. 29, no.4 (1988), pp.2-10, and reprinted in David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen eds., Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (London and New York: Routledge, 1996) pp.450-464.

[22] Paul Gilroy, ‘The Black Atlantic as Counterculture of Modernity,’ in Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness ((London: Verso, 1993) pp.1-40.

[23] I elaborate here on Stuart Hall characterisation of 1980s Black art as “a critique of the way blacks were positioned as the unspoken and invisible ‘other’ of predominantly white aesthetic and cultural discourses.” Stuart Hall, ‘New Ethnicities,’ in Kobena Mercer ed., ICA Documents 7: Black Film, British Cinema (London: ICA, 1989), reprinted in Morley and Chen eds.,  op.cit. pp.441-449, p.441. Theoretical discourses too; at a day conference organised by the Asia Pacific Cultural Studies Forum, a postgraduate student body at Goldsmiths College, University of London, June 1999. On the theme of ‘Dislocating the West,’ speakers were invited to consider among other things the relation between Cultural Studies and Asian Studies. When a delegate, mainland Chinese-born and New York-based curator Jie Lu, questioned the omission of a Chinese representative on any of the panels, or any reference to China in the discussions, his complaint was dismissed with the assertion that ‘China was not in Asia.’ Elsewhere, Rachel Garfield notes the “levelling of ethnicities” by “Black”/ “White” dichotomies (again defining “Black’ as a subject of African descent) in her discussion of Jewish identities and positionings in ‘Ali G: Just Who Does He Think He Is?’ Third Text 54, Spring 2001, pp.63-70.

[24] The rise of so-called ‘Asian Cool’ in nineties Britain and the hierarchisation of migrant or ‘hybrid’ subjects in diaspora is discussed by Ali Nobil Ahmad in ‘Whose Underground? Asian Cool and the Poverty of ‘hybridity,’’ Third Text,no.54, Spring, 2001, pp. 71-84.

[25] “The term ethnicity acknowledges the place of history, language and culture in the construction of subjectivity and identity, as well as the fact that all discourse is placed, positioned, situated, and all knowledge is contextual… What is involved is the splitting of the notion of ethnicity between, on the one hand the dominant notion which connects it to nation and ‘race’ and on the other hand… a recognition that we all speak from a particular place, out of a particular history, out of a particular experience, a particular culture, without being contained by that position…” Hall, op.cit. pp.446-7.

[26] “In both instances, such terms have engendered intense semantic ambiguity and ideological anxiety as the racial mythology of colour is put under erasure, cancelled out but still legible, in a deconstructive logic that depends on the same system of metaphorical equivalences and differences.” Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer in Morley and Chen, eds., op.cit., p.462 n.16.

[27] In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, “[c]onsulates were established by China to protect the interests of overseas Chinese and to encourage their continued involvement with China… China’s 1909 Citizenship Law established the principle that children of a Chinese father remained Chinese citizens regardless of any other citizenship they might acquire overseas. (This principle remained in force for all mainland Chinese governments to the end of the 1950s and remains in effect in Taiwan even today.)” Edgar Wickberg, ‘Overseas Chinese Adaptive Organization,’ in Ronald Skeldon, ed., Reluctant Exiles: Migration from Hong Kong and the New Overseas Chinese (New York: M.E. Sharpe; Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1994), pp.68-84, p.74.

[28] Gary G. Hamilton, ed., Cosmopolitan Capitalisms: Hong Kong and the Chinese Diaspora at the End of the Twentieth Century (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1999) p.6. See also Edgar Wickberg’s essay in the same volume, ‘Localism and the Organization of Overseas Migration in the Nineteenth Century,’ pp.35-55.

[29] “… lately, I have been thinking that we ought to leave out the hyphen in “Chinese-American,” because the hyphen gives the word on either side equal weight, as if linking two nouns. It looks as if a Chinese-American is double citizenship, which is impossible in today’s world. Without the hyphen, “Chinese” is an adjective and “American” a noun; a Chinese American is a type of American.” Maxine Hong Kingston, ‘Cultural Mis-readings by American Reviewers,’ from Guy Amirthanayagamed., Asian and Western Writers in Dialogue: New Cultural Identities (Macmillan, 1982), reprinted in Laura E. Skandera-Trombley ed., Critical Essays on Maxine Hong Kingston (New York: G. K. Hall; London: Prentice Hall International, 1998). http://t3.preservice.org/T0301065/essay.html

[30] Jan Lin, Reconstructing Chinatown: Ethnic Enclave, Global Change (Minneapolis and London: Minnesota University Press, 1998) p.127.

[31] Gary Okihiro, ‘Commentary,’ in Lucy Maddox ed. Locating American Studies: The Evolution of a Discipline (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1999) p.441. Cited in Kandice Chuh, Imagine Otherwise: On Asian Americanist Critique (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003) p.21.

[32] “The birth of the Asian American Movement coincided with the largest student strike in the nation’s history,” with Asian Americans playing an integral role in a student strike launched at the San Francisco State University by the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) in November 1968. Demanding and succeeding in securing curriculum reform, including equal access to minorities to higher education and the institutionalisation of ethnic studies. Min Zhou and James V. Gatewood eds. Contemporary Asian America: A Multidisciplinary Reader (New York and London: New York University Press, 2000) pp.1-2.

[33] Chuh, op.cit., p.20.

[34] In addition to a radical youth group called the Red Guards in San Francisco, New York had I Wor Kuen (established in 1969 by elite college students) and the Basement Workshop (established in 1971 and composed of mainly working-class students). Community organisations included the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement, the Food Co-op, the Workers’ Viewpoint, and the later Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), founded in 1974, reorganised in 1977 as the Chinatown Progressive Association (CPA). Lin, ‘Solidarity, Community, and Electoral Politics,’ op.cit., pp.121-146.

[35] Such as the Basement Workshop in New York (1971-1987), the Asian American Resource Workshop in Boston (established in 1978), the Kearny Street Workshop (1972) and Japantown Art and Media (1975- 2000) in San Francisco. The later Godzilla: Asian American Art Network, was founded by New York-based artists Ken Chu, Bing Lee, and curator and academic, Margo Machida (1990-1994). See Elaine H. Kim, ‘Interstitial Subjects: Asian American Visual Art as a Site for New Cultural Conversations,’ in Elaine H. Kim, Margo Machida, and Sharon Mizota, eds., Fresh Talk / Daring Gazes: Conversations on Asian American Art (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2003), pp.28-36.

[36] Chuh, op.cit., pp.2-4. See also Rey Chow, ‘The Politics and Pedagogy of Asian Literatures’, in Chow, Writing Diaspora: Tactics of Intervention in Contemporary Cultural Studies (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1993) pp.120-143.

[37] Chow, op.cit., p.17.

[38] Chuh, op.cit., pp.2-4.

[39] Chow, op.cit., p.140.

[40] Chuh, op.cit., pp.2-4.

[41] In the early nineties, the launch of two large-scale touring exhibitions, Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art (1994) and Across the Pacific: Contemporary Korean and Korean American Art (1993), was viewed by many as an indication that “art expressing heterogeneous Asian American aesthetic, political, and personal concerns was finally beginning to receive serious attention in discourses on U.S culture.”Asia/America, curated by Margo Machida, Asia Society and the Queens Museum, New York and touring, 1994; Across the Pacific, curated by Jane Farver and Young Chul Lee, Queens Museum and Kumho Msueum, Seoul, Korea, 1993. Kim, op.cit., p.28.

[42] Statistics from the 2001 UK census showed that the proportion of Chinese had risen from 0.3 per cent to 0.4 percent in the previous ten years, forming more than two per cent of the population in Westminster, Cambridge, City of London and Barnet. Such figures are most likely underestimates, given the preclusion of illegal immigrants from the survey. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/default.asp. See also Hugh Baker, ‘Branches All Over: The Hong Kong Chinese in the United Kingdom,’ in Ronald Skeldon ed., Reluctant Exiles: Migration from Hong Kong and the New Overseas Chinese (New York: M.E. Sharpe; Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1994) pp.291-307; and David Parker, ‘Emerging British Chinese Identities; Issues and Problems,’ in Elizabeth Sinn, ed., The Last Half Century of Chinese Overseas (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1998) pp.91-114.

[43] Baker, ibid.,

[44] Ronald Skeldon, ‘Hong Kong in an International Migration System,’ in Ming K. Chan and Gerard A. Postiglione, eds., The Hong Kong Reader: Passage to Sovereignty (New York and London: M.E. Sharpe, 1996), pp.133-168. Aihwa Ong notes that the 50,000 were to be chosen on a point system from householders with British connections in government and business, with a higher education and fluency in English as prerequisites, therefore “selected for their capacity to be normalised as British citizens and their ability to participate in the generation of transnational wealth” – a process criticised for its elitism but not its racism, that is, “the recoding of Asians (from the earlier images of railroad worker, scab, laundrymen, restaurant worker, houseboy, female garment worker, and war enemy) as homo economicus”… “the code term for wealthy Chinese immigrants assumed to be disciplined and productive citizens.” Aihwa Ong, ‘On the Edge of Empire: Flexible Citizenship Among Chinese in Diaspora,’ Positions, 1993, vol. 3, part 1, pp.745-778, pp.750, 764, 771.

[45] A phrase coined by academics in the 1960s to refer to Japanese Americans, subsequently popularised and generalised by the media to include Chinese Americans, which “celebrated those minorities who raised themselves up by their bootstraps, in contrast to the ‘non-achieving’ minorities like the African Americans and Hispanics.” Ong, ‘On the Edge of Empire: Flexible Citizenship Among Chinese in Diaspora,’ op.cit., p.763.

[46] In a letter to The Guardian, Jack Tan, editor of a British Chinese community website www.dimsum.co.uk responded to the widespread reporting of an unsubstantiated link between foot and mouth and the Chinese food industry: “Your reporting of the source of the foot and mouth outbreak…  perpetuates racist stereotypes of the British Chinese community: involvement in smuggling, connection with Far Eastern criminal organisations, eating suspicious or bizarre meat. These 19th-century stereotypes continue to paint the Chinese community as foreigners, criminals, and a corrupting influence. The truth is that we are British. As well as waiters and takeaway owners, our ranks also include doctors, writers, businessmen, lawyers, teachers, nurses and more. We do not eat “cow’s nostrils, monkey meat, elephant … and smoked grubs”…  and no one I know in the community has links to secret Far Eastern sausage-smuggling groups. Your later report…  is too little, too late. There has been a 40% drop in trade in the intervening six days. If this continues, there will be a knock-on effect on wholesale butchers, since Chinese restaurants obtain all their meat from British suppliers (it’s cheaper!), and eventually on the beleaguered British livestock farmer. Needless hardship has been caused by these unsubstantiated stories and stereotypes to thousands of families in the Chinese community.” Jack Tan, ‘Takeaway your Stereotypes,’ The Guardian, 4 April 2001. Tan refers to three articles that had appeared in the same paper: Michael White and Nicholas Watt, ‘Smuggled Meat Blamed,’ 27 March 2001; Paul Brown,  ‘Illegal meat trail leads to infected countries,’ 28 March 2001; Paul Kelso, ‘Chinese restaurants feel the pinch,’ 2 April 2001. Six days later, over a thousand protesters took to the streets marching from London’s Chinatown to the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. See also Chris Gray, ‘Chinese stirred into action by racist smears and slanders,’ The Independent, 7 April 2001.

[47] The outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), an atypical pneumonia of unknown aetiology, was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at the end of February 2003. After its sudden and rapid spread to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Hanoi and Toronto since first emerging in southern China in mid-November, 2002, the WHO issued a global warning on 12 March 2003. By the end of June 2003, WHO had removed Hong Kong and Beijing – the two most severely affected cities – from its list of areas with recent local transmission of SARS.

[48] The drowning of Chinese migrant workers illegally employed as cockle pickers recalled the deaths in Dover three years earlier, both tragedies raising the alarm on international organised criminals trafficking in illegal immigrants. ‘Lorry deaths a ‘stark warning’, says Straw’ The Guardian, 19 June, 2000; Ian Johnston, ‘Scandal of Chinese cockle-pickers’ deaths,’ Scotland on Sunday,8 February 2004.

[49] An issue raised by the BBC Radio 4 series, ‘Beyond the Takeaway,’ 10-14 March, 2003, in which actor and director David K.S. Tse, of the Yellow Earth Theatre Company, spoke to second and third generation British Chinese: “… we’re the third largest ethnic minority here so why have we remained such ghostly figures on the landscape of British society and what are we doing now to make ourselves more visible? Hopefully the series will help to dispel some of the standard stereotypes of British Chinese – we don’t all do kung fu and work in takeaways!” http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/beyondthetakeaway.shtml

[50] A Chinese-American themed Christmas tree in Macy’s San Francisco, Union Square store in 2003 featured replica take-out boxes, lanterns, fans, fortune cookies, mini buddhas and Chinese baby dolls.

[51] The 26 episodes of The Water Margin and 52 episodes of Monkey ((first broadcast by the BBC in 1976 and 1979, respectively) became available on DVD in 2004.

[52] The Chinese Detective (BBC, 1981-82) starred David Yip as the first and only (British-born) Chinese actor to take a lead role on British television, an update of the archetypal Charlie Chan character of the internationally successful detective films of the 1930s and 1940s, a role invariably taken by white actors in ‘yellowface.’ “Yellowface marks the Asian body as unmistakably Oriental; it sharply defines the Oriental in a racial opposition to whiteness. Yellowface exaggerates “racial” features that have been designated “Oriental,” such as slanted eyes, overbite, and mustard-yellow skin colour. Only the racialized Oriental is yellow; Asians are not.” Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asian American in Popular Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999) p.2

[53] The Missing Chink, written and performed by Paul Courtnay Hyu and Paul Chan (Channel 4, 19-22 January, 2004) prompted over 145 complaints to the broadcaster and Ofcom about the offensive nature of the title.

[54] Lisa Lowe, ‘Immigration, Citizenship, Racialization,’ in Lowe, Immigrant Acts: on Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1996) pp.1-36, p.7. Lowe cites Neil Gotanda’s ‘Towards Repeal of Asian Exclusion: The Magnuson Act of 1943, the Act of July 2, 1946, the Presidential Proclamation of July 4, 1946, the Act of August 9, 1949, and the Act of August 1, 1950,’ in Hyung Chan Kim, ed., Asian Americans in Congress: A Documentary History (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1995).

[55] Ong, op.cit., p.748.

[56] Ong, op.cit., pp.746 and 753.

[57] Windberg, op.cit., p.51.

[58] See Parker, op.cit., and his entry for ‘Britain,’ in Lynn Pan ed., The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas (Richmond: Curzon Press, 1999) pp.308-309.

[59] Parker, ‘Emerging British Chinese Identities; Issues and Problems,’ op.cit.

[60] Ong considers “how Overseas Chinese (mainly from Hong Kong) are variously constructed as citizens on the edge of empires – China, Britain, the United States – and investigates the subject’s own complicity and subversion of these constructions.” Ong, op.cit., p.747.

[61] Two chapters in Warren I. Cohen’s The Asian American Century (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2002) are called, respectively, ‘The Americanization of East Asia’ and ‘The Asianization of America.’ By borrowing and broadening this premise (where Cohen is keen not to generalise), I refer similarly to how “contact… has changed the way East Asian peoples are governed, how they eat, how they think, how they amuse themselves,” and “the accelerating influence of East Asia on [Western] life and identity… It is clear that art, film, food, and religion in [the West] have been profoundly affected by contact with Asia.” Pp.3-4.

[62] A reference to Sarat Maharaj’s warning against “‘multicultural managerialism’ – something we have to watch out for in EU approaches to cultural diversity…” Sarat Maharaj in conversation with Annie Fletcher, ‘dislocutions: on cultural translation,’ in CIRCA, no.91, Spring 2000, pp. 31-33. See also Sarat Maharaj, ‘Introduction: Black Art’s Autrebiography,’ in Gilane Tawadros and Victoria Clarke eds., Annotations 5: Run through the Jungle: Selected Writings by Eddie Chambers (London: inIVA, 1999). pp. 4-8.

[63] The Chinese Arts Centre emerged from the Chinese View Arts Asssociation, established after ‘Chinese View ‘86’, the first Chinese festival to take place in Manchester in 1986 (home to the second largest population of Chinese in Britain). By the following year, plans for a permanent centre were underway, finally opening in a first floor former office suite in Chinatown in October, 1989. In March 1997, the centre relocated to the city’s Northern Quarter, and after a temporary setback following a burglary and arson attack in August, 1998, re-opened the next February. In 2001, Chinese Arts Centre was allocated £2.1 million from Art Council England’s Lottery funded Arts Capital Programme towards the development of a new building, which opened in November 2003.

[64] Based in north west London, BCAA was established as a result of the ACE funded Chinese Artists Forum in 1991, its aim to promote the developments within Chinese arts and artists of Chinese descent living and working in Britain, providing a public information and advice service, publishing a regular bilingual arts newsletter, and maintaining the British Chinese Artists’ Association Database. http://www.bcaa.org.uk/new/about.htm

[65] Such discrepancies can be seen as attempts to respond to local constituencies, in these instances by the North West and South East Arts Boards, respectively, as they were known prior to April 2001. The following year heralded a restructured Arts Council of England, thereafter truncated and rebranded as simply Arts Council England (which also prefixed regional council names, hence, ACE, London, or ACE, North West), a single development organisation for the arts.  Reforms included the streamlining of over one hundred grant schemes to just five; a “core ambition” remains the “championing of cultural diversity” with a focus on “race and ethnicity, disability and social inclusion” http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/aboutus/ambition.php#diversity

In the 2001 census,  “The term Asian and Black refers to people who did not describe themselves as white…  Instead, they chose one of the following broad categories: Asian, Black, Chinese, mixed heritage, or other.” http://www.britishcouncil.org/diversity/race_population.htm#Table1

[66] Cultural Diversity Action Plan (London: Arts Council of England, 1998) p.5. n.1

[67] Cultural Diversity Action Plan, ibid. pp.22 and 24.

[68] Such as “people who are of Asian, African and Caribbean descent”; see Correcting the Picture: New Perspectives on Cultural Diversity in Arts Management, conference at the Drum, Birmingham, 21-22 April 1998. Conference report, pp. 4 & 5, note on terminology.

[69] Whose Heritage? The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Britain’s Living Heritage, conference at G-Mex, Manchester 1-3 November, 1999, co-ordinated by the Arts Council of England and North West Arts Board. Conference report, p.4

[70] Cultural Diversity Action Plan, ibid. pp.6, 8 and 12.

[71] Richard Hylton, ‘The Politics of Cultural Diversity,’ Art Monthly, no.274, March 2004, pp.20-21.

[72] Ibid., p.20.

[73] “… Decibel has failed to spark debate about art world pathologies. The fact that it has attracted very little in the way of serious critical attention may itself signal a critical indifference, apathy or even antipathy towards the broader aims of cultural diversity as promoted by ACE. At the risk of sounding conspiracist, one has to wonder whether the organisational and political problems that have beset Decibel are themselves mechanisms of control manufactured in order to stifle real change. In fact segregation in the art world is being legitimised. In this way ‘the landscape is changing’ as never before.” Ibid, p.21.

[74] Further qualifications of terminology can be found in the Runnymede report, which finds the terms ‘black, Asian and Irish’, ‘black and Asian’ or ‘Asian and black’ used, where ‘black’ “refers to people with recent origins in Africa or the Caribbean, and ‘Asian’ refers to all Asian countries and regions, not to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan only.” ‘African-Caribbean’ is used in preference to ‘Afro-Caribbean’ or ‘Black Caribbean’, and the term ‘South Asian’ is preferred where the reference is to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The concept of ‘recent origins’ displaces essentialising notions of ‘race’, while intimating ambiguous relations between ethnicity and location. http://www.runnymedetrust.org/meb/TheReport.htm See also Stuart Hall, ‘A Question of Identity (II)’, The Observer, 15 October 2000.

[75] 1997 also marked the fiftieth anniversary of the partition of India into two Dominions, India and Pakistan, the trend for things Chinese thus coinciding with a wider interest and nostalgia for the East, illustrated for example by Madeleine Bunting’s ‘Let’s wear our frills with pride,’ The Guardian, 5 April, 2000, cited in Ali Nobil Ahmad, ‘Whose Underground? Asian Cool and the Poverty of ‘Hybridity’,’ Third Text,no.54, Spring, 2001, p.80.

[76] ‘Cities on the Move: Urban Chaos and Global Change – East Asian Art, Architecture and Film Now’ was at the Hayward Gallery, London, 13 May – 27 June 1999. ‘000zerozerozero’ was at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, 10 – 31 July 1999. In ‘Art Is Black: Culturally Diverse Artists on Show, aone-off newspaper supplement in The Guardian, 28 February 2004, Niru Ratnam asserted, “We simply do not need insulting patronising shows like zerozerozero ever again.”

[77] Examples include the exhibitions, ‘Links 96,’ Chinese Arts Centre and Yang Sing Restaurant, Manchester (1996), ‘Tradition and Modernity: Contemporary Chinese Painting,’ British Museum (1996); ‘Reckoning with the Past,’ Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and touring (1996); ‘Far from the Shore,’ Pitshanger Manor and Gallery (1998); ‘Another Province,’ Watermans Arts Centre, London and Brewery Arts, Cirencester (1998).

[78] The debate on ‘British-Chinese Culture and Contemporary Art’ was held at the Central Library, Manchester, 7 December, 1995. A related and much larger scale conference and exhibition project, ‘JourneysWest’ had taken place the previous year, organised jointly by the Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester (Kwong Lee); FirstSite, Colchester (Katherine Wood); Lambeth Chinese Community Association, London (Jessie Lim); University Gallery, Essex University (Jessica Kenny) in collaboration with inIVA (the Institute of International Visual Arts), London (Gilane Tawadros) and supported by Eastern Art Report (Sajid Rizvi). The conference on 21 October 1995 was chaired by Jeremy Theophilus of the Arts Council of England, who also curated the exhibition across two venues, the University Galleries and at the Minories.

[79] Minutes from a meeting of the Chinese Arts Network at the Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, 13 December 1995.

[80] Gilane Tawadros makes this observation in her preface to the exhibition catalogue, Ten Thousand Li (Liverpool: Liverpool School of Art & Design / CAIR, 2002) p.5.

[81] ‘Contemporary Chinese Arts in the International Arena,’ British Museum, 18-20 April, 2002. Many events involved the Chinese Arts Centre, which came under the directorship of Sarah Champion in 1996. These included ‘Borderlines,’ a seminar at the Studio Theatre of North Westminster Community School in London in April 1998, organised as part of a major programme of cultural events arranged by Visiting Arts (VA) to accompany the ASEM (Asia-Europe Economic Meeting) summit of Asian and European heads of government; ‘A New Vocabulary for Chinese Arts?’ a day seminar at The Place, London, 3 October, 1998, co-ordinated with Andy Gunn-Yu Cheung, then-Arts and Education Co-ordinator for BCAA, and Pit Fong Loh, founder of BiMa Dance Company and director of the ‘Re: Orient’ Dance Season at The Place, as partner organisations. ‘Re: Orient,’ first launched in 1994, provided an important platform for dance practitioners from East and South East Asia, within an international cultural space; ‘A New Vocabulary for Chinese Arts?’ was the closing event of its 1998 season. ‘New Moves: Chinese Arts Conference,’ was produced by Jessie Lim and Grace Lau (Fusion Arts) in partnership with Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where it was held on 18 December, 1999.

[82] May Lam, cited in the exhibition catalogue for Here Not There (Brisbane: Institute of modern Art, 1993), curated by Hiram To and Nicholas Tsoutas at IMA 6-28August, 1993; texts by May Lam, Robert Nery and Fazal Rizvi.

[83] Chow, ibid. p.5

[84] ‘Yellow Peril: Reconsidered’ (1990-1991) featured Asian Canadian artists; ‘The Curio Shop’ (1993) was organised by Godzilla at Artists Space, New York. Kim, op.cit., pp.30-31.

[85] The exhibition ‘number six,’ TS2K, London, 1998, was organised by and featured the artists Anthony Key, Yeu-Lai Mo, Erika Tan, Mayling To, Tony Ward, and myself. The project is discussed in greater length in the last chapter, ‘Back Words’.

[86] I Am Not What I Am, exhibition notes, http://www.sunderland.ac.uk/~as0kan/iamnot.htm

[87] ‘Ten Thousand Li’ (2002), Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool and touring; curated by Deborah Chan and Wing-Fai Leung.

[88] Deborah Chan, ‘Talking Chinese, Speaking English,’ in Chan ed., Ten Thousand Li (2002), pp.40-43.

[89] Salman Rushdie, The Wizard of Oz (London: BFI Publishing, 1992) pp. 9 and 19.

[90] Ibid., p. 57.

[91] See Jenny Clegg, Fu Manchu and the ‘Yellow Peril’: The Making of a Racist Myth (Staffordshire, Trentham Books, 1994).

[92] Sanderson presented a paper at the international conference ‘Feminism in China Since the Women’s Bell,’ held at Fudan University, Shanghai, 16-19 June, 2004, as part of the panel,’Embodying Feminisim, Re-Envisioning Chinese Contemporary Art,’ organised by Sasha Su-Ling Welland. The exhibition, ‘Cruel/Loving Bodies,’ co-ordinated by Welland, was organised concurrently for Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai and 798 Gallery, Beijing, 2004. A version of Sanderson’s paper appears in the exhibition catalogue, Cruel /Loving Bodies (Shanghai: Duolun Museum of Modern Art, 2004).

[93] Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior, first published 1976; (London: Picador, 1981) p.13.

[94] For example, the South African-born artist, Anthony Key, whose work is discussed in the next chapter, spent his childhood and youth negotiating a volatile grey space between ‘black’ and ‘white,’ his negatively-determined legal status – not ‘white’, nor ‘colored’ but ‘non-white’ – subsuming his Chinese ethnicity. Interview with the artist, 11 June 2002, unpublished.

[95] See for example my text, ‘Anthony Key,’ in Empire and I, exhibition catalogue (London: Terra Incognita, 1999).

[96] “Alongside each utterance, one might say that off-stage voices can be heard… in their interweaving, these voices (whose origin is lost in the vast perspective of the already-written) de-originate the utterance…” Roland Barthes, S/Z trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1974), cited in Kaja Silverman, The Subject of Semiotics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), p.50.

[97] Lesley Sanderson, These Colours Run, mixed media installation, 1994.

[98] After Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, an elaboration of her reference to “the academic/intellectual/artistic hybrid,” displacing the divisional, diagonal stroke with a hyphen, marking thus a conjunction, division, a break in sense, an omission. Spivak, Outside in the Teaching Machine (New York and London: Routledge, 1993) p. x.

[99] Ien Ang, ‘On Not Speaking Chinese: Diasporic Identifications and Postmodern Ethnicity,’ in Ang, On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West (London and New York: Routledge, 2001) pp.21-36, p.36.

[100] Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic (London: Verso, 1993), p.1.

[101] Trinh T.Minh-ha, ‘Commitment form the Mirror-Writing Box,’ in Trinh, Woman Native Other (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989) p.6.

[102] “Since the routes by which the minorities have travelled to this identity are different in some crucial respects from that taken by native people, they are unlikely to feel ‘British’ in exactly the same way. That is why the hyphen – Black-British, British-Asian – persists.” Stuart Hall, ‘A Question of Identity (II)’, The Observer, 15 October, 2000. “The challenge of the hyphenated reality lies in the hyphen itself: the becoming Asian-American; the realm in-between, where predetermined rules cannot fully apply.” Trinh T. Minh-ha, ‘Bold Omissions and Minute Depictions,’ in Trinh, When the Moon Waxes Red: Representation, Gender and Cultural Politics (New York and London: Routledge, 1991) pp.155-166.

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