In Strangers in the Family
, Guo-Quan Seng provides a gendered history of settler Chinese community formation in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial period (1816–1942). At the heart of this story lies the creolization of patrilineal Confucian marital and familial norms to the colonial legal, moral, and sexual conditions of urban Java.
Departing from male-centered narratives of overseas Chinese communities, Strangers in the Family tells the history of community formation from the perspective of women who were subordinate to, and alienated from, full Chinese selfhood. From native concubines and mothers, creole Chinese daughters, and wives and matriarchs to the first generation of colonial-educated feminists, Seng showcases women’s moral agency as they negotiated, manipulated, and debated men in positions of authority over their rights in marriage formation and dissolution. In dialogue with critical studies of colonial Eurasian intimacies, this book explores Asian-centered interethnic patterns of intimate encounters. It shows how contestations over women’s place in marriage and in society were formative of a Chinese racial identity in colonial Indonesia.
“In bringing together an expansive array of primary materials and scholarly literature, Guo-Quan Seng introduces readers to new ways of interpreting the intimacy of gender relations involving the creole Chinese of the Dutch East Indies.”
--Yew-Foong Hui, author of Strangers at Home
“Comprehensive and persuasive. Strangers in the Family sheds new light on the subject formation of Chinese Indonesians over almost three centuries by showing how colonial, orientalist, and Confucianist ideologies and practices perpetuated and (re)created them as strangers.”
--Saskia Wieringa, author of Heteronormativity, Passionate Aesthetics and Symbolic Subversion in Asia