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«by David Parker Department of Cultural Studies University of Birmingham Bibliography in Ethnic Relations No.12 Centre for Research in Ethnic ...»

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The Chinese in Britain:

Annotated Bibliography and Research Resources


David Parker

Department of Cultural Studies

University of Birmingham

Bibliography in Ethnic Relations No.12

Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations February 1994

University of Warwick

Coventry CV4 7AL.




Bibliography of Academic Materials 3

SECTION TWO 16 Selected Media Representations 16 Newspaper Articles 16 Television Programmes 19 Radio Documentaries 20 SECTION THREE 21 Useful Addresses 21 David Parker completed his thesis on the cultural identities of young Chinese in Britain at the Department of Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham, where he will be a lecturer from January 1994. He helped establish Birmingham Chinese Youth Project and was a researcher on the BBC2 documentary `Takeaway Lives'.


This annotated bibliography stems from my doctoral research on the cultural identities of young Chinese in Britain. I found it extremely frustrating that so few of these materials were ever gathered together, and that so often what I found was based on chance. Although this list is not intended to be exhaustive, I hope it will ease the task of future researchers.

Due to the lack of full length academic studies on the Chinese in Britain, I have included newspaper articles, together with television and radio programmes. In these media representations the changing perceptions of the Chinese community can be traced.

As most Chinese in Britain originate from Hong Kong, I have included some references to recent work by Hong Kong sociologists on its distinctive culture and identity. The emergent generation of young Chinese in Britain look to Hong Kong popular culture more than to mainland China for a sense of Chinese cultural identity. An understanding of Hong Kong as it is now is therefore essential for appreciating the identity formation of the British educated Chinese.

For those interested in researching Chinese in Britain, the best sources for material are:

i) The library of the Hong Kong Government Office in London By appointment, the library will grant access to its collection of materials on Chinese in Britain, which includes theses and projects donated by overseas Hong Kong students who studied the Chinese community during their stay here.

ii) The Public Record Office at Kew The Home Office File HO45 /11843 /139147 contains over 150 pages of official documents concerning Chinese settlement prior to 1930. The papers illustrate the problematisation of the community in terms of drugs and interracial relationships.

Particularly noteworthy are the minutes of the Aliens and Nationality Subcommittee set up just after the First World War to devise a repatriation scheme for Chinese seamen and aerodrome workers.

iii) Tower Hamlets Local History Library, Bancroft Road, London In addition to the newspaper cuttings mentioned in greater detail in Section Two, the Library has a collection of black and white photographs of the Limehouse Chinese community in the interwar years.

iv) Chinese community centres and voluntary groups The community groups listed in Section Three produce annual reports which can be a useful source of local information for those planning small scale studies.

This list of research resources is doubtless imperfect and I would welcome details of anything I have overlooked. Above all I hope this publication will enable scholars to pay greater attention to a community whose two centuries of presence in Britain has yet to be seriously reflected in the literature on ethnic relations.

David Parker Department Of Cultural Studies University of Birmingham October 1993


The research on which this bibliography is based was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council Studentship.

SECTION ONE Bibliography Of Materials Relating to The Chinese In Britain Anderson, K. (1987) "The Idea of Chinatown", in Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 77 No.4, 580-98.

-- Said's concept of Orientalism is applied to the discursive framing of the Chinese population of Vancouver by local government and media in the period 1880 to 1930.

Argues that "the public nuisance definition" of Chinatown helped consolidate Western identity. Provides a framework for analysing the imaginative geography of Chinatowns as they have developed in Britain.

Baxter, S. (1986) The Chinese and Vietnamese in Birmingham. Birmingham City Council Race Relations and Equal Opportunities Unit

-- a research project responding to the Home Affairs Committee Report. The author outlines the history of Chinese migration to Britain and to Birmingham, explains the concentration in catering, highlights the particular difficulties of Vietnamese refugees and ends with policy recommendations to all the major city council departments in respect of the Chinese and Vietnamese populations.

Baxter, S. (1988a) A Political Economy of the Ethnic Chinese Catering Industry.

Unpublished PhD thesis, Aston University.

-- a comprehensive historical materialist analysis of the Chinese catering economy.

Britain's imperialist policies in China and Hong Kong are cited as a major determinant of Chinese migration. The author eschews culture as an explanation for Chinese entrepreneurship and through interview material brings out the "superexploitation" of family labour in the catering economy.

Baxter, S. (1988b) with Geoff Raw - "Fast food Fettered Work", in S. Westwood and P.

Bhachu (eds.) Enterprising Women. Routledge, London.

-- Drawing on her thesis, the author argues for the relevance of a materialist analysis of Chinese family labour. Stresses the corrosive effects of long hours on the lives of Chinese women and children.

Berry, C. (ed.) (1991) Chinese Cinema. British Film Institute, London.

-- a valuable collection of articles on the new cinemas of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, which taken together provide useful background material on Chinese culture more generally.

Broady, M. (1955) "The Social Adjustment of Chinese Immigrants in Liverpool", in Sociological Review Vol. 3, 1955, 65-74.

-- a brief history of the Chinese seafaring community of Liverpool precedes a short sketch of cultural adjustment patterns. Cites the "good and conscientious" Chinese husbands of English wives and argues that as Chinese men were not assimilated, they were not subject to cultural conflict and not perceived as a social problem.

Cayford, Joanne (1991) "In Search of John Chinaman: Press Representations of the Chinese in Cardiff 1906-11", in LLafur: Journal of Welsh Labour History, Vol.5 No.4, pp.37-50.

-- this article examines the reporting of the seamen's strike of July 1911 in local newspapers. Draws out the two strands in representations of Chinese seafarers: the issue of cheap labour and a deeper cultural antipathy to their alleged immorality; especially opium smoking, gambling and mixed marriages. The tentative attempts by the Western Mail to portray the Chinese more sympathetically were flawed by a patronising exoticisation and romanticisation.

Chan, Alfred (1986) Employment Prospects of Chinese Youth in Britain. Commission for Racial Equality.

-- a sample survey of 100 young Chinese; 60 in London, 40 in Edinburgh. Chinese young people are said to have a dream of Saam si - to enter one of three professions, medicine, law or accountancy. But poor English language skills, inadequate careers advice and the demands of helping in the family business hinder their progress.

Chan, Anita (1987) Migration, Settlement and Assimilation of Hong Kong Chinese in the U.K. Unpublished BA dissertation, Geography Department, Birmingham University.

-- a spatial analysis of the Chinese population reveals its wide dispersal. This does not imply assimilation as economic segregation precludes social integration. Suggests the new generation may create a cultural group independent of both Chinese and English cultures.

Chan, C.P. (1981) A Study of the Chinese Community in Birmingham and its Pattern of Life. Unpublished M.Soc. Sci. dissertation, University of Birmingham.

-- based on a sample of 46, and semi-structured interviews in Cantonese, the author argues that Chinese in Birmingham are less assimilated than other groups due to the long hours of catering employment and the consequent participation in all-Chinese associations and leisure activities.

Chan, K.C. (1990) "The Media and Telecommunications", in R. Wong and J. Cheng (eds.) The Other Hong Kong Report 1990. Chinese University Press, Hong Kong.

-- the then Deputy Programme Controller of Asia Television Limited provides a comprehensive statistical overview of Hong Kong's media structure. Argues strongly that the main television channels are failing to reflect the greater diversity of viewing preferences in Hong Kong's emergent professional classes.

Chan, K.C. (1991) "The Media and Telecommunications", in Y. Sung and K. Lee (eds.) The Other Hong Kong Report 1991. Chinese University Press, Hong Kong.

-- as above, updated statistically.

Chan, M. (1988) Education and Employment of Chinese on Merseyside. Liverpool Chinese Community Development Project.

-- a survey of 187 15 to 27 year olds on Merseyside exploring the educational achievements, aspirations and labour market experiences of young Chinese. Highlights the stereotypical conceptions careers advisers have, and points to the lack of information and guidance about training opportunities.

Chen, J. (1979) China and the West. Hutchinson, London.

-- a wide-ranging study of the mutual cultural understandings held by China and the West of each other. Particularly impressive on the role of overseas Chinese students in forming impressions of the West.

Chinese Action Group and Quaker Community Relations Committee (1979) The Chinese in the UK. Commission for Racial Equality, London.

-- report of a conference held in December 1978. Contains conference proceedings and additional short papers on Nationality, Education and Health.

Chinese Information and Advice Centre (1985) The Chinese Community in Britain.

Conference Report.

-- contains proceedings of a Conference held in March 1985 in response to the Home Affairs Committee Report. Calls on the Chinese community to "cast aside for good the label of a silent minority".

Choi, Po King (1990a) "A Search For Cultural Identity: the Students' Movement of the Early Seventies", in A. Sweeting (ed.) Differences and Identities: Educational Argument in Late Twentieth Century. Hong Kong, University of Hong Kong.

-- an important piece locating the students movement of Hong Kong as part of the development of an indigenous Hong Kong identity, distinct from an identification with the Chinese mainland.

Choi, Po King (1990b) "From Dependence to Self Sufficiency: Rise of the Indigenous Culture of Hong Kong 1945-89", in Asian Culture, No. 14, April 1990.

-- the theme of a uniquely Hong Kong cultural identity is given extended treatment through a historical analysis of Hong Kong's film and television industry. Hong Kong's openness to the West has always given it a key place in the Chinese film industry. Only with the development of a local television industry did Hong Kong's distinctive film culture begin to develop.

Choi, Po King (1990c) "Popular Culture", in R. Wong and J. Cheng (eds.) The Other Hong Kong Report 1990, Chinese University Press, Hong Kong.

-- a statistical and thematic analysis of Hong Kong popular music, cinema and popular literature. Argues that a Hong Kong vernacular language is developing in popular culture, and that the rapid ascent to stardom of local artists confirms "the common belief that rapid social ascent is not impossible."

Chow, Rey (1992) "Between Colonizers: Hong Kong's Postcolonial Self-Writing in the 1990s" in Diaspora 2:2, 1992.

-- a sharp analysis of Hong Kong's predicament poised between two colonizers. Through a reading of the ironic lyrics of songwriter Luo Dayou, the author argues for the articulation of a new third space. Both the nativist appeal to images of Chinese folkhood, and the blind cosmopolitanism of postmodern hybridity should be ignored in favour of a recognition of Hong Kong's unique "in-betweenness and impurity".

Chung, Yuen Key (1980) "At the Palace: Researching Gender and Ethnicity in a Chinese Restaurant", in Liz Stanley (ed.) Feminist Praxis. Routledge, London.

-- a detailed account of the researcher's experiences as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant in Manchester. Focusses on how interactions with customers were simultaneously gendered and racialised. Highlights the ambiguities of verbal and non-verbal communications and the harassment by male customers which had to be accepted as part of the job.

Commission for Racial Equality (1987) The Needs of the Chinese in the North West.

Conference Report.

-- includes papers by community workers in Manchester and Liverpool. Dominant themes are: the language barriers faced by older Chinese who cannot speak English, the low take-up of welfare benefits and social services, and the failure of local government to respond to the particular problems of the local Chinese population.

Crawford Campbell, P. (1923) Chinese Coolie Emigration within the British Empire. D.S.

King & Son, London

-- dispassionate historical analysis of the transportation of Chinese labourers to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia. The recruitment of Chinese labourers was equated to "the buying and selling of pigs", with the aim of accumulating "cities and money and rich plantations".

Daedalus (1991) Special Issue: The Living Tree: the Changing Meaning of Being Chinese Today, Vol 120 Spring 1991

-- world-renowned Chinese scholars and experts on China reflect on changing Chinese identity, both within China and throughout the Chinese diaspora.

Dawson, R. (1967) The Chinese Chameleon: an Analysis of European Conceptions of Chinese Civilization. Oxford University Press, London.

-- a lucid and accessible investigation of Europe's recurrent fascination with China.

Traces the movement between exaltation at Chinese art, and contempt for Chinese food and Chinese labourers settled in the West.

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