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The Future ConditionalBuilding an English-Speaking Society in Northeast China$
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Eric S. Henry

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501754906

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501754906.001.0001

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Raciolinguistic Identities

Raciolinguistic Identities

The White Foreign Body of the Native English Speaker

Chapter:
(p.144) 6 Raciolinguistic Identities
Source:
The Future Conditional
Author(s):

Eric S. Henry

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501754906.003.0007

This chapter reflects on the role that foreigners play in Chinese modernism. In numerous interactions, Chinese people drew on circulating images and discourses as models of identity defining the nature of both these foreign others and themselves. No longer simply a national outsider, the “foreigner” is perceived as a particular racialized, gendered, and classed figure in a process called “erasure.” This erasure is significant for two reasons. First, emptying foreigners of agentive individuality makes them complicit within the discursive formation of chronotopic modernity. Foreigners are necessary to the English language enterprise in Shenyang not merely because they are native speakers but, even more importantly, because they are catalytic intermediaries. The path to modernity exists through them and the template established by the West, and their presence (or absence) authenticates (or delegitimates) the actions of Shenyangers who engage with this discourse. Second, however, such erasures also make them ripe for appropriation. Without individuality, the foreigner is a caricature of the semiotic values attributable to “the West,” allowing a subject position called “the otherness of self.”

Keywords:   foreigners, Chinese modernism, Chinese people, identity, erasure, chronotopic modernity, English language, Shenyang, agentive individuality, foreign others

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