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Golden Dragon and Purple Phoenix: The Chinese and Their Multi-ethnic Descendants in Southeast Asia introduces the rarely discussed records of Chinese descendants living in Southeast Asian countries. This book highlights their influences on the communities they lived in and challenges they overcame. Written by Lee Khoon Choy, this book is based on his personal experiences and insights of more than three decades working as a Singaporean journalist and politician, visiting every country in Southeast Asia. 

The first chapter begins with the stories of lokjins (洛真) or the descendants of Chinese-Thai. Chinese migration to Thailand began during the Northern Sung dynasty. The Chinese immigrants were able to quickly assimilate with the Thais for two reasons: 1) Both the Thais and Chinese immigrants were Buddhists, and 2) the Thais welcomed Chinese as citizens, giving them equal rights. Many lokjins played important roles politically (e.g., many became Thai prime ministers). Influences of Chinese culture were also apparent. In the Thai language, many words originated from the Teochiu dialect. The grand palace of King Rama I has Chinese stone lions placed at the entrance as well as Chinese dragons and phoenixes carved at the roofing. Inspired by Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义), Thai authors made a novel based on this classic Chinese literature. 

Chapter two tells about Chinese migration to the Philippines which—similar to Thailand—also began as early as the Sung dynasty before the Spanish came. The Chinese men married the Filipinas, and their children were referred to as the mestizos. When the Spaniards came, the mestizos endured ill treatment and received no support from their homeland. As a result, many of them decided to assimilate into Spanish culture. Despite all the challenges, however, a number of mestizos rose to become prominent political figures, such as Maria Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino who was the first woman president of the Philippines. 

Chapter three introduced the history of the peranakans, or offspring of Chinese and Indonesian. Though rarely mentioned in historical records, Zheng He (郑和), a Muslim explorer living in the Ming dynasty, contributed to the spread of Islam in Indonesia and the increase of Chinese-Indonesian intermarriages. Years later, the Dutch came and separated the people in Indonesia based on their races, which was instrumental in the decline of Chinese-Indonesian intermarriages. Moreover, after Indonesia gained independence, the Chinese were banned from practicing their language and culture, causing many Chinese who were born after the mid-20th century to be unable to speak their home language. Yet, in 2000 Gus Dur, who has Chinese ancestry, became the fourth president of Indonesia and restored the rights of Chinese diaspora and peranakans to express their cultures. Indeed, the Chinese influence spreads beyond political aspects; for example, Chinese medicines are generally considered helpful to cure different illnesses. The origin of the infamous wayang kulit was actually from the Fujianese puppet show, potehi (布袋戏).

Moving on to the chapter about Myanmar, we read the stories of tayoke kabya, the descendants of Chinese-Burmese. Intermarriages began in the Sung, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The tayoke kabya adopted the culture of the Burmese people. Some influences of Chinese culture could be seen, for example, in the Buddhist temples and Buddha images on Pagan’s building. The Burmese language has many words originating from the Chinese language (e.g., chopsticks, tofu, ship). Moreover, Burmese people tend to like the number eight, believing in Chinese superstitions. 

In Cambodia, Chinese-Cambodian intermarriages were common until the early 1900s and decreased by the 1920s when more Chinese women came to the country. Chinese influence could be seen in areas including culture, language, architecture, and politics. Chinese artists were involved in sculpting some parts of the Angkor Wat, the well-known Buddhist temple. Chinese words for common objects such as food and clothing were incorporated in the local Cambodian language. Moreover, the chapter discusses the conditions of Chinese after Cambodian Independence, including under the eras of Lon Nol, Khmer Rouge, and Pol Pot. 

The history of Chinese migration to Vietnam began with the Three Kingdoms period (三国时代) when Zhu Geliang’s (诸葛亮) army went to Vietnam. In the beginning of the migration, the Chinese deeply influenced the Vietnamese with Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Yet, the condition reversed when Vietnam gained their independence. Throughout history, Vietnam and China have contributed to each other; for example, Nguyen Banh from Vietnam helped with the building of the Forbidden City in 1445, while Ly Cong Uan, who had Fujianese ancestry, became the founder of the Ly dynasty of Vietnam. 

Unlike the other Southeast Asian countries, Chinese-Laotian intermarriages were less common. Due to its landlocked location, Chinese migration to Laos has been relatively low compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, and the immigrants mainly came from neighboring regions, Yunnan and Guangxi. The chapter included discussions on several Laotian political figures, the impact of Communism on Laos, as well as the Sino-Laos or China and Laos relations throughout history. 

Chapter eight shares the story of peranakans or Chinese-Malaysians where the male peranakans are called “Babas” and the female “Nyonyas.” Chinese-Malaysian intermarriages began during the Sri Vijaya (三佛齐) Buddhist era and further increased after Zheng He, the Muslim Chinese explorer, arrived in Malacca. Though such intermarriages in modern-day Malaysia have decreased, the peranakans have developed their unique cultures that include celebrating Chinese festivals, such as Zhong Wu Jie (中午节) where they make Baba-style rice dumplings called nyonya chang (娘惹糯) and Chinese New Year where they give angpows (红包) to children. The author also shared his personal story growing up in a Baba family. Despite living in a family that did not speak Chinese, he chose to attend a Chinese school. “I had my education in Chung Ling High School (钟灵中学) and developed a better affinity with the Chinese compared to my siblings,” wrote Lee Khoon Choy (426). 

Singapore, the smallest Southeast Asian country, is the only country where the Chinese diaspora are politically dominant. They acknowledge and embrace their unique identity: a mix of Malay and Chinese. One prominent figure discussed in the chapter is Huang Zun Xian (黄遵宪), the first to advocate for the rights of Chinese diaspora. Seeing that many of them could not speak Chinese, he started Chinese schools that helped the migrants embrace their Chinese identity. Efforts by Emperor Guangxu and Dr. Sun Yat-sen also helped promote the spread of Chinese culture, though many Chinese diaspora chose to adopt local cultures and customs. 

The last chapter of the book tells the stories of Chinese descents in Brunei. As in several other Southeast Asian countries, the explorer and admiral Zheng He played an important role in the increase of Chinese-Brunei intermarriages as many Chinese people came with him when he landed in Brunei. A number of leading Chinese figures were discussed, which include Dato Timothy Ong Teck Mong, who received the Most Honourable Order of the Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei, and Dato Lim Jock Seng, the Second Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The book Golden Dragon and Purple Phoenix: The Chinese and Their Multi-ethnic Descendants in Southeast Asia invites readers to learn from history, particularly the lesser-known stories, of the Chinese diaspora living in Southeast Asia. The author revealed the struggles and the beauties of the fusions of cultures, encouraging us to embrace and respect different histories and further develop relationships within and across cultures.

American Chinese Restaurant: Society, Culture and Consumption is a collection of ethnographic case studies on American Chinese restaurants and personal stories of people who started, worked at, and/or grew up in this business. The essay contributors come from various backgrounds to introduce Chinese restaurants as “dynamic agencies,” inviting readers to ponder on issues including identity, ethnicity, transnationalism, assimilation, and socioeconomic differences. Editors Jenny Banh and Haiming Liu group the essays into five major categories and present them in ways that will interest readers of any background. 

The first part of the book addresses the topic of social analysis. In “Creating and Negotiating ‘Chineseness’ through Chinese Restaurants in Santiago, Chile,” Carol Chan and Maria Montt Strabucchi explore the “dynamic relations between migration, race, the restaurant industry, and national identity in Santiago” (20). Deriving from the interviews with people who run and/or work in Chinese restaurants, Chan and Strabucchi discuss how the people’s Chilean and Chinese identities were expressed and challenged in their communities. Similarly, Patricia Palma and José Ragas’s essay “Feeding Prejudices: Chinese Fondas and the Culinary Making of National Identity in Peru” also raises the issue of identity, particularly the relationship between Chinese restaurants, prejudice, and national identity. This chapter explains how Chinese diaspora and their businesses, especially the chifas (Peruvian-Chinese restaurants) and fondas (small restaurants), continued growing despite opposition from society.

Two essays in the first part of the book analyze the Southeast Asian communities living in Los Angeles and focus on the Chinese donut restaurateurs' practices and strategies to deal with economic issues. Francis Huynh’s “From Chinese Donuts to Leek Cakes: Navigating Los Angeles Chinatown’s Golden Waters” studies Kim Chuy, a Teochew-style restaurant, that had a major influence on the identity formation for the diasporic Teochew community in the United States. Huynh analyzes how the restaurant dealt with economic challenges (e.g., gentrification) and accommodated the growing diversity of customers and workers. Erin Curtis’s “Selling Donuts in the Fragmented Metropolis: Chinese Cambodian Donut Shops in Los Angeles and the Practices of Chinese Restaurants” explores the strategies and practices that helped Chinese Cambodian donut shops succeed in the United States restaurant industry.

In the last essay of this section, “Talk Doesn’t Cook Rice: Chinese Restaurants and the Chinese (American) Dream in Ohio,” Anthony Miller discusses how Chinese restaurant owners in Ohio attempt to present authentic Chinese food to the community without provoking prejudice against Chinese due to the rise of China’s economy. At the same time, Miller also looks at these restaurateurs' struggles and strategies to succeed in the US restaurant industry. 

The second part of the book addresses the topic of culinary histories. In “Surveying the Genealogy of Chinese Restaurant in Mexico: From High-End Franchises to Makeshift Stands,” Yong Chen considers the question of what restaurants can be categorized as Chinese restaurants. He decides to take an inclusive approach by “count[ing] the Mexican-owned ‘Chinese restaurants’ as equally belonging to the general category, and … not [being] concerned with the question of what is ‘authentic’ Chinese food” (89). From his research, he came up with four groups of Chinese restaurants in Mexico, namely the restaurant chains from the United States (e.g., Panda Express), the restaurants intended for people with a Chinese palate, the restaurants catered to the general public, and the restaurants run by Mexicans who once worked in Chinese restaurants in the United States.

Oliver Wang’s “Live at the China Royal: A Funky Ode to Fall River’s Chow Mein Sandwich” discusses the history of Chow Mein Sandwich in Fall Rivers, Massachusetts. Wang highlights the significance of the chow mein sandwich that was considered a “fusion” dish in the Asian Pacific Islander communities.

David Wu’s “Under the Banner of Northern Chinese Cuisine: Invention of the Pan-China Cuisine in American Chinese Restaurants” shares the stories of two successful “Northern Chinese” restaurants. The stories explain the origin of the late twentieth-century “Northern Chinese” dish and how it eventually became known as “Pan-China Cuisine” in most American Chinese restaurants. The history of these restaurants reflects the story of Chinese and Taiwanese diaspora in the United States.

In the essay “Oriental Palaces: Chin F. Foin and Chinese Fine Dining in Exclusion-Era Chicago,” Samuel King explores the story of a famous Chinese restaurateur who established luxurious Chinese restaurants catering to middle- and upper-class white diners. This way, he showed that he was of the “better element” of the Chinese Americans in Chicago, allowing his family and himself to be better accepted by the dominant Americans. 

Haiming Liu’s “Chop Suey, P.F. Chang’s, and Chinese Food History in America” examines the role of chop suey and P.F. Chang’s in the American Chinese culinary history. Chop suey was indeed a major contributor to the popularity of Chinese cuisine in America as it attracted even the famous President Eisenhower. P.F. Chang’s has also been successful in promoting Chinese cuisine, although Liu argued that “it was unrelated to Chinese American identity and culture” (165).

The third part of Banh and Liu’s book contains person-centered narratives. Jacob R. Levin’s “Chinese Restaurants and Jewish American Culture” explains how generations of his Jewish family and other Jewish Americans interacted with Chinese food that it became the “‘most Jewish’ of the ‘non-Jewish’ foods in Jewish American culture” (174). Meanwhile, Cheuk Kwan’s “Last Tango in Argentina” is a first-person account of Kwan’s Chinese restaurant in Argentina, in which he shares his experience meeting Foo-Ching Chiang, a Chinese restaurateur.

Moreover, Jenny Banh contributes three essays in this section. In the “Chinese Restaurant Kids Speak about Labor, Lifeways, and Legacies,” Jenny Banh shares her personal experiences with her immigrant family, describing the experiences she had and life lessons she learned as she grew up working in a Chinese restaurant. “Chinese American Chef Ming Tsai Life of East and West Hybridity” and “Culinary Ambassador Chef Martin Yan Speaks Life, Authenticity, and the Future of Chinese Restaurants” present interviews with Chef Ming Tsai and Chef Martin Yan. In these interviews, the chefs shared their migration stories as well as experiences in running their own Chinese restaurants and food television shows. 

The fourth and fifth parts of the book are related to visuals. Part four is a unique collection of comics which highlight events from the everyday life of owners, workers, and customers of Chinese restaurants. Part five analyzes real photos and building environments of certain Chinese restaurants. 

The fifth part of the book opens with Nicholas Bauch and Rick Miller’s “A Visual Habitat Study for Chinese Restaurants in a California Conurbation.” This chapter analyzes the neighborhood surrounding the “Chinese food mecca” in San Gabriel Valley, CA. The photographs show the local area that plays an important role in supporting the economy of these Chinese restaurants.

Christopher Sullivan’s “Redefining and Challenging the Boundaries of Chinese Cuisine: A Visually Based Exploration of Uyghur Restaurants in the United States” introduces the Uyghur cuisine, which came from a Turkic Muslim population that lives in Xinjiang province, Northwest of China. The Uyghur cuisine challenges Americans to expand their definition of Chinese cuisine. 

The last two essays touch on political and racial issues. Lily Cho’s “Diasporic Counterpublics: The Chinese Restaurant as Institution and Installation in Canada” examines how a Canadian Chinese restaurant became the “diasporic counterpublic” for Chinese Canadian communities. Cho defines “counterpublic” as “a community that exists as a counter to a dominant or mainstream community” (283). In a similar vein, Hongyan Yang’s “Toy’s Chinese Restaurants: Exploring the Political Dimension of Race through the Built Environment” analyzes the history and built environment of Toy’s restaurants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, particularly their racial representations of Chinese.

American Chinese Restaurant: Society, Culture and Consumption presents various research essays, personal stories, comics, and photographs of Chinese restaurateurs and restaurants. The book invites us to see the realities, joys, and struggles of the American Chinese diaspora. Banh and Liu effectively showcase the essays in ways that will surely attract readers and scholars who are interested in the significant relationships between food and cultural identity.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center currently has an internship opportunity (virtual) for bilingual students (Spanish or Chinese) who are interested in using their language skills to help us ensure equity in health. Our students will be exposed to a variety of education and language-related tasks, including translation, interpretation, and education.

Please visit the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website for more information about our work.

Here is the job description.

Multilingualism and Translanguaging in Chinese Language Classrooms by Danping Wang presents research on Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) teaching and learning practices based on an ethnographic classroom study. This book exposes the complex language use in second language classrooms and the debates on monolingual and multilingual teaching methods and practices. It provides the basics of classroom translanguaging research to help equip second language teachers in assessing their classroom practices. Throughout the book, Wang emphasizes how language policy and practices should consider the diverse backgrounds and support the different needs of multilingual students.

Wang begins by introducing the context of the study and summarizing the major events and challenges that affect Hong Kong’s CSL programs. After the transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty in 1997, the government required the citizens to acquire Mandarin in addition to Cantonese and English. However, unequipped teachers and the “one-size-fits-all monolingual curriculum” (p. 5) could not support the needs of learners with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds whose numbers were rapidly increasing. Elaborating on these challenges, Wang highlights the urgent need of transforming the second language curriculum and pedagogy to support multilingual learners. 

Chapter 2 dives deeper into the issues regarding the “medium of instruction (MoI) policies and pedagogies in CSL teaching” (p. 17). Despite having different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, CSL programs across the globe usually have similar MoI policies. Moreover, some teachers undervalue the role of learners’ home language in learning a second language. As a result, communication issues among teachers and students increase whereas students’ motivation decreases. 

After presenting the challenges and background of Chinese as a Second Language pedagogy, in Chapter 3 Wang discusses the theories and approach of this study. The key concepts that set the foundation of this research include the origins of the monolingual principle and criticisms against it as well as theories about second language learning, sociocultural, ecology, multi-competence, and translanguaging. Wang further elaborates on the ethnographic classroom research design, research context, and the two research questions examining: 1) the functions of L1 use in L2 classrooms and 2) teachers' and students’ attitudes on monolingual/multilingual learning and teaching practices. 

In Chapter 4, Wang discusses the results of this ethnographic classroom study, focusing on the translanguaging practices and perceptions of the students, teachers, and course developers. The findings suggest that most of the translanguaging practices in this study were for scaffolding purposes. Moreover, Wang provides guiding principles for teachers to incorporate translanguaging in their teaching practices while leveraging the learners’ home languages as an asset to acquire new languages.

In the last chapter, Wang invites us to rethink and ponder some key concepts including “code-switching, medium of instruction, native speaker, English as a lingua franca” in second language teaching and learning (p. 97). The detailed guiding principles of classroom translanguaging research provide teachers with the foundation to evaluate and improve their pedagogical practices, freeing them from monolingual principles. 

This research raises great challenges to the generally acknowledged monolingual CSL curriculum and pedagogy while introducing translanguaging practices that teachers can incorporate to better understand and support multilingual learners. The book will help us as educators to enhance our understanding of second language pedagogy and provide opportunities for our diverse students to contribute their multilingual assets to the classroom.

The “rise of China” since the 1980s has been influencing global politics, economy, technology, and art, and it has also led to greater discourse around the Chinese diaspora. Diasporic Chineseness after the Rise of China: Communities and Cultural Production explores the connections between the political and economic rise of China and the kinds of cultural productions represented by the Chinese diaspora. This collection of essays features personal voices of migrants including intellectuals, businesspeople, writers, and artists as they struggled with their identities as Chinese diaspora, offering a novel insight to the notion of identity and diaspora in general. Julia Kuehn, Kam Louie, and David M. Pomfret, as editors of the book, purposely organized the essays to show the “complex development of diachronic and generational differences within the diaspora” (p. 9).

Following the introduction, in the essay “No Longer Chinese? Residual Chineseness after the Rise of China,” Ien Ang shares her personal experience to reflect on the dynamic meaning of “Chinese diaspora” (p. 20). Ang was born and raised in 1950s and 1960s Indonesia, lived in the Netherlands for 25 years, and has been living in Australia since the 1990s (p. 18). Ang examines the influence of the rise of China on the development of diasporic Chinese identities, wondering if “vernacular, localized, hybrid Chinese diasporic identities” will persist, or instead, be suppressed by the “homogenizing, essentializing, and nationalizing force of a global China” (p. 10).

Meanwhile, China’s success in adopting capitalism led other Chinese diaspora to consider the idea of reterritorialization by returning to their homeland. Ouyang Yu’s “Twenty Years in Migration, 1989-2008: A Writer’s View and Review” highlights the perspective of a migrant writer as he dealt with the “bitter experience of the costs of migration” which made him consider going back to China (p. 11). In a similar vein, Kam Louie’s “Globe-Trotting Chinese Masculinity: Wealthy, Worldly, and Worthy'' examines the plans and strategies of diasporic businessmen in order to succeed in China. The essay further highlights how the “self-worth” of these migrant businessmen was measured by their wealth (p. 11, 47).

Chapters 5 and 6 examine literary-cultural productions that portray Chinese diaspora. In “Textual and Other Oxymorons: Sino-Anglophone Writing of War and Peace in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Fifth Book of Peace,” Shirley Geok-lin Lim discusses Kingston’s notion of identity as an “incongruous unity.” Lim points out that as peace and war are an oxymoron, identities like “Chinese American” can be understood only in conjunction with each other (p. 77). Along the same lines, focusing on two women playwrights, Hilary Chung’s essay “The Autoethnographic Impulse: Two New Zealand Chinese Playwrights” explores the ways diasporic Chinese artists and writers in New Zealand aim to authorize their identity (p. 82).

The next two chapters focus on films. Rey Chow’s “The Provocation of Dim Sum; or, Making Diaspora Visible on Film” explores how the movie Dim Sum reconciles two different representations of China in media—the one represented by older Chinese Americans and the other by the younger generation (p. 13) Meanwhile, in her essay “Performing Bodies, Translated Histories: Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, Transnational Cinema, and Chinese Diasporas,” Cristina Demaria analyzes the film Lust, Caution that may represent people with transnational identities and the complexities—e.g. home and host cultures, local and global, traditional and modern—they are facing (p. 13, 124). 

Chapters 9 and 10 discuss Chinese diasporic dance and artworks. Sau-ling Wong, in “Dancing in the Diaspora: ‘Cultural Long-Distance Nationalism’ and the Staging of Chineseness by San Francisco’s Chinese Folk Dance Association,” presents a case study on a dance association, discussing the rising arguments among different generations of Chinese diaspora on representations of “authentic” Chineseness (p. 14, 146). Yiyan Wang’s “Tyranny of Taste: Chinese Aesthetics in Australia and on the World Stage” discusses how works by diasporic artists are mostly evaluated based on the criteria of the host country and how the rise of China influences such evaluation processes (p. 14, 149).

The last essay, Kwai-Cheung Lo’s “Reconfiguring the Chinese Diaspora through the Ethnic Minorities” concludes the book by emphasizing that ethnic traditions and minorities have significant roles in the development of diasporic communities. The rise of China and the debates between China’s majority and minority communities present different opinions regarding Chinese identity (p. 15, 173).

Through various forms including writings, films, and art, this collection of essays explores how the concept of diaspora has become more “fluid, flexible, and open” (p. 14). The studies and personal experiences discussed in this book have enriched the discourse and sparked further explorations and analyses on the notion of diasporic Chineseness after the rise of China.

This is a full-time 12-month position to start July 1, 2021. The position offers a competitive salary along with a comprehensive benefits package that includes PTO, medical, dental, vision, FSA, 401K, etc. Please email the cover letter and resume with Assistant Principal/Dean of Mandarin Program in the subject line to by March 1, 2021. HWIS is an equal opportunity employer and values diversity in the workplace. We actively encourage all qualified applicants regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation to apply.

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For educators with heart & vision

Each new year brings new opportunities, and 2021 is no exception! Are you an educator with heart and vision who is ready to relocate, jump into a new learning environment, and put your teaching skills to good use?

Meet YouCH, a non-profit organization supporting Chinese families and students by helping schools to raise their teaching standards and working with local teachers closely on their professional development. YouCH is working alongside the Minhang school district in Shanghai, China, to hire full-time English teachers for primary and middle schools. If the following fits you, contact us!


  • Native-like English proficiency
  • Passionate about education
  • Minimum 2 years teaching experience
  • Committed to students
  • Adventurous
  • Curious
  • Enthusiastic
  • Inclusive
​Serious applicants can message the Center for Professional Education of Teachers at Be sure to include Teaching in China | YouCH in your subject line.
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Center for Professional Education of Teachers
at Teachers College, Columbia University
525 West 120th Street • New York, NY 10027
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