Migration, nostalgia and identity negotiation: Teresa Teng in the Chinese diaspora
by Hong-Chi Shiau
International Journal of Chinese Culture and Management (IJCCM), Vol. 2, No. 3, 2009

Abstract: As one of the most influential Chinese singers, with an impact extending beyond the merely commercial to include the cultural and political, Teresa (Theresa) Teng (Deng) remained popular throughout Chinese diaspora communities even after her death in 1995. This study examines how Chinese immigrants in the USA derived meanings from media texts related to Teresa Teng, and how they maintained and negotiated their Chinese identity despite their disparate history of migration. Simple and poetic, the lyrics sung by Teng spoke to my informants as they experienced the anxiety of exile and expectations of homecoming. Through Teresa's music, the immigrants reflected upon their experiences of migration as surmountable obstacles leading to acclimation; as loneliness and struggle as well as friendship and intimacy; and as difficult adjustments in conflict with tradition. Generally, the retrieved narratives shared by the owners of Chinese restaurant relate her songs to the sacrifice embodied in their experiences of migration, while others focus on the struggle against adversity and violation by affirming their cultural hybridity and changing social positions. Consequently, this study presents a cultural, historical and critical perspective on the vicissitudes of identity and diaspora.

Online publication date: Sun, 29-Nov-2009

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