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Goh Cheng Fai, Zach

PhD Student

Email: zachgoh@life.hkbu.edu.hk

Overseas Chinese, Tea, and Empire: Literary Representations of Tea Commodification,

Consumption and Culture in Anglophone Hong Kong,

Malaysia and Singapore Literature.

 

This PhD research project aims to examine the negotiation of overseas Chinese

cultural identity and diaspora in relation to tea consumption and culture as it is

represented in the Anglophone literatures written in and about three former British

colonies with significant overseas Chinese populations: Hong Kong, Singapore and

Malaysia.


While there have been other projects that deal with tea as a literary device in Tang and

Song poetry in China, as well as the literary significance of tea in Victorian Literature,

such as in the works of Dickens, this is the first project of its kind to focus on tea as a

cultural signifier in postcolonial Anglophone literatures of Hong Kong, Singapore and

Malaysia. This topic is worthy of further investigation because of the ubiquity of tea

in Chinese culture and identity, and the complexity of the politics of tea drinking and

its representation. The different ways that tea drinking is represented in these former

East and Southeast Asian colonies may be examined as a medium of negotiation

between the hybridizing cultures of being a person with Chinese identification as well

as a colonial British subject simultaneously.