Chinese Indonesians in China

Following up on the recent post on Chinese Indonesians, I had a fascinating conversation with several colleagues from Kyoto University about Chinese Indonesians who have “returned” to China. Our focus was not on recent flows of comparatively wealthy Chinese, but rather on a previous generation in the 1950s and 1960s whose economic resources were more modest and who seem to have left before or after the tumultuous events of September 30, 1965. This is a fascinating and understudied area for cultural studies and political identity: you could ask a lot of interesting questions about how Chineseness is understood by people on the mainland, among other things, using the experiences of “foreign” Chinese who have “returned.”

For those of you who can speak Mandarin (and we here at Indolaysia cannot) you might find interesting this video (h/t to Yumi Kitamura). I gather that it features a visit to “Chinese Tea Plantation Yin De” in Guangzhou, where a number of workers were born in Aceh and maintain some sort of Indonesian identity. You can see one man in the video wearing a traditional peci or songkok and singing Ayo Mama—nothing more Indonesian than that!

Comment 1

  1. Susy Tekunan August 28, 2012

    The video shows a very surprising side of the live of Chinese Indonesian re-migrants in their “Ancestor’s country.”

    As a third generation Chinese Indonesian, I am perplexed by the effort of these people to maintain Indonesian culture and to keep their identity as Chinese Indonesians in China. Especially since their return to China was to escape targeted ethnic violence in Indonesia. It is possible that Indonesian tropical happy-go-lucky musyawarah mufakat culture has sufficiently ingrained in them.

    I wish the reporter asked the man in tears if he ever want to return to Indonesia.

Comments are closed.