About this Event
BOOK LAUNCH – Strangers in the Family: Gender, Patriliny, and the Chinese in Colonial Indonesia
Date: Friday, 1 December, 2023
Time: 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: The Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941
Dinner will be provided.
6pm: Registration and light buffet dinner
6.30pm: Welcome Remarks by TBC and Introduction by Chair (5 min)
6.35-6.55pm: Presentation by Dr Seng Guo-Quan, Assistant Professor (NUS History)
6.55-7.15pm: Discussion of book with 2 guest speakers
7.15-7.30pm: Q and A with audience, Moderated by Chair
7.30-8pm: Book signing and mingling with audience
7.30-9pm: End of event; audience encouraged to visit The Peranakan Museum
About the Book
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 inter-ethnic 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.
About the Author
Seng Guo-Quan is a historian of Chinese societies in Southeast Asia, with a special interest in how racial, gender and sexuality structures in the region have been shaped through the forces of Eurasian imperialism, nationalisms and global capitalism. Born and raised in Singapore, he has been trained in History at the University of Cambridge (BA), National University of Singapore (MA), and the University of Chicago (PhD). His first book, Strangers in the Family: Gender, Patriliny and the Chinese in Colonial Indonesia (Cornell University Press, 2023), is a gendered history of settler Chinese community formation in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial period (1816–1942). He also maintains an interest in debates in world history, historiography and social, gender and postcolonial theory.
He is currently involved in three projects. First, he is working on a second monograph tentatively titled, “A Diaspora of Shopkeepers: Empire, Race and Chinese Commercial Expansion in Southeast Asia (1870-1970s)”. With a focus on Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, this project is both a bottom-up history of the ethnic Chinese wholesale and retail trade, and a history of the racializing processes of economic knowledge formation. Second, he is writing a socio-cultural history of early Chinese television in Singapore for the Popular Culture in Nanyang Conference (to be held in November 2023). Third, he has also been invited to contribute a chapter on Chinese migration and entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia for the early modern volume in the Cambridge History of Southeast Asia (forthcoming, 2025).
Get the book here: https://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/9781501772511/strangers-in-the-family/#bookTabs=1
Event Venue & Nearby Stays
The Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian Street, Singapore, Singapore