Double Identity: The Chinese in Modern Thailand

Double Identity: The Chinese in Modern Thailand

Double Identity: The Chinese in Modern Thailand

Double Identity: The Chinese in Modern Thailand

Excerpt

The initial field research on which this book rests was undertaken in Thailand during 1951 and 1952 in order to test, in an Oriental cultural context, certain Western-derived theories relating to the contact of cultures and the assimilation of immigrants; the result of that research appeared in 1953 as the author's doctoral dissertation in Sociology at Yale University, entitled The Chinese in Bangkok, A Study of Cultural Persistence. When preparing my dissertation for publication I saw two choices: either to present the material in theoretical and conceptual terms for an audience of professional social scientists, or to write a book which by content and organization would be useful to a wider range of intelligent readers. I chose the latter course for what I regard as good reasons. There is no paucity of publications--books, monographs, articles, newspaper accounts--on the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, for this is a strategically located, economically powerful minority whose importance is enhanced now by kith and kin ties with Communist China, a major imperialist force in contemporary Asia. But in recent years the published material, with a few notable exceptions, has seemed either highly specialized and analytical, written like my dissertation by and for academicians, valuable as contributions to knowledge certainly, but remote so far as the general reader is concerned; or, if not heavy, the published accounts have appeared to me one-dimensional and excessively thin; they are rewarding neither so far as new facts are concerned nor the imaginative combination of old facts. It was to fill the gap between the professional tomes and popular literature, and to flesh out the portrait of the overseas Chinese, that this book was written in its present form. Readers who want a theoretical and conceptual orientation for a further understanding of this rich culture contact situation are referred to my dissertation mentioned above. In it will be found the voluminous detail demanded in such studies, only part of which was selected and much of which was briefly summarized for this book. Although both the dissertation and this book are products essentially of my own personal research efforts in Thailand, whenever pertinent other published materials are employed. This book has been broadened, therefore, by points of view other than my own; it has benefited moreover from successive evaluations of the situation . . .

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