Family and Marriage: Constructing Chineseness Among Long-Established Australian-Born Chinese

  • Lucille Ngan Lok-sun


The perpetuating assimilationist assumption that ethnic identification eventually disappears over successive generations has led to a general lack of interest in understanding the experiences of long-term migrant communities. However, the experience of long-settled Australian-born Chinese demonstrates that despite having been settled for three, four, five and even six generations in Australia, Chineseness is still a significant part of their identity—whether they willingly choose to identify with it or it is imposed upon them by others. This chapter takes their experiences and investigates how Chineseness is constructed in the context of the family. Ngan discusses how marriage patterns and family contexts have served and continue to serve as important factors for the outcomes of identity for subsequent generations. While Chineseness is frequently criticised as a construct of essentialism, it remains an inerasable attribute for ethnic Chinese in defining and asserting their identities. Using extensive in-depth interview transcripts, Ngan highlights the impact of social environment on the family formation and marriage of early Chinese migrants in Australia. She then explores the influence of the family on identity construction and socialisation of long-settled Australian-born Chinese. Lastly, she examines the construction of identification for Chinese-looking Australians within and across Chinese diasporic communities.


Chinese Language Chinese Community Recent Migrant Marriage Pattern Interracial Marriage 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Hong Kong Institute of EducationTai Po, New TerritoriesHong Kong

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