Chapter

Selling Chineseness and Marketing Chinese New Year

Chiou-Ling Yeh

in Making an American Festival

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780520253506
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942431 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520253506.003.0008
Selling Chineseness and Marketing Chinese New Year

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With the rise of the Pacific Rim economy, the restructuring of global economies, the image of wealthy immigrants, and the prevailing model minority narrative, Chinese Americans became “dream customers” for multinational corporations. They were also perceived as cultural brokers to expedite trade across the Pacific. Major corporations began to sponsor the festival in 1987, while television stations started annual broadcasts of the parade in 1988. This chapter explores how commercialism and the mass media entered the terrain of ethnic-identity formation. By evoking exoticism and the model minority image in the English-language parade broadcasts, parade organizers successfully attracted corporate sponsorship and incorporated the Chinese New Year Festival into contemporary multicultural America. However, the counter-memory presented in the Chinese-language television broadcasts of the parade rebuffed the idea of a unified Chinese American ethnicity, instead revealing a heterogeneous community divided by geographic and linguistic barriers.

Keywords: Chinese Americans; multinational corporations; commercialism; mass media; ethnic identity; Chinese New Year; corporate sponsorship; counter-memory; model minority; television broadcasts

Chapter.  9198 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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