A ‘reality of return’: the case of the Sarawakian-Chinese visiting China

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Tie, Caroline ; Holden, Andrew ; Park, Hyung Yu (2015)

Using an interpretive ethnographic framework, this paper focuses on how travel to the homeland informs the identity of the Sarawakian-Chinese, a diaspora that contains a composite of subcultures. The data collection is based upon 35 semi-structured interviews and participant observation of a Sarawakian-Chinese tour group to China. Whilst emotional connections with China are universally significant in constructing the diaspora's ethnic identity, the strength of association is influenced by characteristics of\ud education, religion and language, as identity becomes re-defined and plural. The findings suggest that the influence of tourism to the homeland may not necessarily be significant in enhancing emotional and cultural connections with China. Instead, ambivalent connections to homeland become established during tourism experiences. Visits to the homeland could play a significant role in forging new and hybrid identities of ethnic communities outside the homeland, thereby bringing a new vital dimension to\ud identity formation and communication of the Sarawakian-Chinese in the future.
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