Wearing the Cheongsam: Dress and Culture in a Chinese Diaspora (Dress Cultures)
Associations between the cheongsam dress and Chinese cultural identity are widely known but what are the meanings of the cheongsam for members of the Chinese diaspora? In a study grounded in first-hand accounts of wearing, Cheryl Sim explores the practices and experiences of ladies in Canada, an incredible Chinese diaspora, and carries out the primary in-depth study of the cheongsam from this very important perspective.
Questions explored over the course of 20 interviews, in addition to all through personal reflections at the creator’s own experiences of wearing, include: is there a desire to re-claim or appropriate the cheongsam? Does this desire risk perpetuating stereotypes of Asian women? Does it undermine one’s identification with one’s host country? Can erased heritage(s) be accessed through dress? And how does wearing the cheongsam interact with the male gaze? Revealing feelings of repulsion and attraction, Sim combines personal stories with an authoritative use of theoretical frameworks such as feminism, post-colonialism and autoethnography.
Covering issues such as heritage, ethnic identity, authenticity, nationalism, patriarchy and assimilation, Sim demonstrates that the meanings of the cheongsam are multifarious. Readable but with strong academic underpinnings, this book is the entry point into discussions of Chinese dress and diaspora.
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