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Mobility and home: Shifting constructions of gender, race, and nationality in Chinese diasporic literature

Shuchen Susan Huang, University of Massachusetts Amherst


"Mobility" and "home" are often assumed to be antithetical concepts. Visions of "mobility" and "home" are especially mediated through ideological mappings of gender, in which women are relegated to the local and the domestic as extensions of ideas of home, and men are assigned to the public terrain, the "outer" world. The dissertation not only seeks to problematize gendered ideologies of "mobility" and "home" but also investigates the ways in which "home" is redefined or reconfigured through different tropes of mobility. Through analysis of three novels, Bone by Fae Myenne Ng, Mulberry and Peach by Hualing Nieh and The Moon of Vancouver by Xiulan Du, I examine many implications of "home" that are fixated in binaries of domestic and public, male and female, East and West, and Asia and America. My study explores particularly the ways in which different tropes of mobility as conducted or imagined by the novelistic characters not only challenge the dichotomized understandings of "home" embedded in hegemonic structures of patriarchy, Orientalism, nationalism, imperialism and capitalism, but also redefine "home" in its relation with "mobility." Chapter One discusses gendered ideologies of "home" and "mobility" in both Chinese and Western cultures and outlines the major theoretical strands of my study. It also introduces the thematic connections of the three novels. Chapter Two explores the ways in which Ngs characters use different modes of mobility to re-map and re-imagine different "homes" and re-articulate their positions in them. Chapter Three analyzes how the constant mobility of Nieh's female protagonist reveals "home" as the locus of two conflicting desires and re-defines "feeling at home" as a perpetual state of reformation and negotiation. Chapter Four examines how capitalism on both a global and local scale affects transnational migration and the plans of settlement of Du’s characters.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|American literature|Asian literature

Recommended Citation

Huang, Shuchen Susan, "Mobility and home: Shifting constructions of gender, race, and nationality in Chinese diasporic literature" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3242384.