M.Phil. / Ph.D. Research

Living in two worlds: Diasporic Identity and Images on Chaoshan Architecture of the 1890s – 1930s


YAO Yiying



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At the turn of the twentieth century, Chaoshan found itself amid dramatic upheavals. Since 1860 when Swatow became a trading port, foreign trade was explored, a large scale of local people went abroad. After 1893, when the Qing court legally authorized overseas Chinese to return to China, this group of people had supplanted local elites and gentries as the primary consumer of investing real estate in Chaoshan during the next half-century.

As a group of people that “lives in two worlds”, I tend to argue that overseas Chinese of that period sought to construct and enhance their own identity by using images on their house as a form of expression. Therefore, in this research, I will look at the images on the architecture founded by Chaoshan overseas Chinese of the time, to see how their identity influenced the depiction and representation of those images. Meanwhile, contextualize the images would also offer a glimpse of the rapid change of modern Chaoshan society behind the transformation of aesthetics.