24 October 2007

NEW BOOK - The Chinese Exotic by Olivia Khoo (Hong Kong UP, 2007)

The Chinese Exotic examines new representations of diasporic Chinese femininity emerging from Asia Pacific modernities since the late twentieth century. Through an analysis of cultural artefacts such as films, popular fiction, food and fashion cultures, the book challenges the dominant tendency in contemporary cultural politics to define Chinese femininity from a mainland perspective that furthermore equates it with notions of primitivism. Rather, the book argues for a radical reconfiguration of the concept of exoticism as a frame for understanding these new representations.

This engaging study raises important questions on the relationship between the Chinese diasporas and gender. The Chinese Exotic provides a timely critical intervention into the current visualizations of diasporic Chinese femininity. The book contends that an analysis of such images can inform the reconfigured relations between China, the Chinese diasporas, Asia and the West in the context of contemporary globalization, and in turn takes these new intersections to account for the complex nature of modern definitions of diasporic Chinese femininity.

'The Chinese Exotic is a fascinating panoramic study of new representations of Chineseness - in film, fashion, food, as well as literature and pop culture - that transcend the tired hierarchies of East and West, tracing the cultural emergence of an empowered, passionate and thoroughly modern diasporic Chinese femininity.'
- Ien Ang, Australian Research Council (ARC) Professorial Fellow, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, author of On Not Speaking Chinese (2001)

'With great sensitivity and originality, Olivia Khoo shows us how to read popular films, female movie stars, quotidian cultural artifacts, novels, and other 'Chinese exotic' phenomena in contemporary global circulation. To the representational politics of what she terms diaspora China, she has brought a notably fresh level of analytical finesse and imagination.'
- Rey Chow, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, Brown University, author of Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films (2007)