SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Bifurcated Homeland and Diaspora Politics in China and Taiwan toward the Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia

Enze Han
Speaker: Dr Han Enze

Date: 15 December 2016Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 15 December 2016Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Special Lecture


The conventional literature on diaspora politics tends to focus on one "homeland" state and its relations with "sojourning" diaspora around the world. Yet there are rare instances where more than one state claims to be the legitimate homeland and competes with each other. In such a situation, how does each justify its own legitimacy in the eyes of the diaspora through its diaspora policies? This paper examines an instance of "bifurcated homeland": the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) after the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. The talk investigates the changing dynamics of China’s and Taiwan’s diaspora policies toward Overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia throughout the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. They were affected by their ideological competition, the rise of Chinese nationalism, and the "indigenization" of Taiwanese identity. Illustrating such changes through the case of the KMT Yunnanese communities in Northern Thailand, this talk makes two interrelated arguments regarding state-diaspora relations. First, it argues that we should understand relations through the lens of the interactive dynamics between international system-level changes and domestic political transformations. Depending on different normative underpinnings of the international system, what constitute the foundation of regime legitimacy also have changed. Subsequently, the nature of relations between the diaspora and the homeland(s) transformed from one that emphasizes ideological differences during the Cold War, to one infused with nationalist authenticity in the post-Cold War period. Second, the bifurcated nature of the two homelands also created mutual influences on their diaspora policies during periods of intense competition, which suggests the contingent nature of diaspora policy-making.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Han Enze is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of London. His research interests include ethnic politics in China, China's relations with Southeast Asia, especially with Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand, and the politics of state formation in the borderland area between China, Myanmar and Thailand. His recent publications include Contestation and Adapation: The Politics of National Identity in China (OUP, 2013), and with various articles appearing in The Journal of Contemporary China, The China Quarterly, Nationalities Papers, Security Studies, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, among others. Previously, Dr. Han was a postdoctoral fellow in the China and the World Program, Princeton University. He received a Ph.D in Political Science from the George Washington University. 2015-2016 he was a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA. His research has also been supported by the Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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