Post—Cold War Celebrations

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:
Post—Cold War Celebrations

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The first Chinese New Year Festival after the September 11 terrorist attack was held on February 23, 2002. Although September 11 shifted the immediate threat from China to Muslim countries, ethnic leaders hardly felt relief. Instead, they sensed an urgency to demonstrate their loyalty in public displays. They understood that as long as they were not considered to be “Americans,” they would be subject to political persecution if relations between the United States and China were to alter. In order to negotiate the conservative post-Cold War political climate, ethnic leaders used the Chinese New Year Festival as a platform on which to display their patriotism and to orientalize Chinese American ethnic identity. Ultimately, this strategy failed to challenge U.S. racial ideology, instead reinforcing Chinese American otherness; an outcome that, ironically, has provided them with a place in the multicultural United States. Above all, however, is the fact that the celebration has become a space in which many Chinese Americans have been able to empower themselves and identify with their ethnicity.

Keywords: Chinese New Year; China; United States; patriotism; Chinese Americans; ethnic identity; racial ideology

Chapter.  1619 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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