井底之蛙

2/19/2007

Globalized Chinese Culture

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 3:48 pm

Chinese culture is global culture. Though Hawai’i is, in some ways, not a good sample, nonetheless there’s an awful lot of Chinese culture which has been nativized here, well beyond the presence of significant Chinese communities. Actually, this island has the lowest ratio of Chinese of any of the well-populated ones in the state, but the influences are unmistakable.

We just had our own Chinese New Year celebrations here in Hilo, for example, complete with firecrackers, and the usual downtown festival with fried foods and local crafts:

The tradition of firecrackers at New Year’s has been adopted by the State for the secular New Year, as well, producing hours of smoke-filled, eardrum-threatening fun at the turning of the calendar, regular reports of injuries and fires, and ever-so-slowly-tightening regulations about purchase and use of fireworks.

The annual visit by the Shanghai Circus (not the one based in Branson, MO, but I’m not sure which troupe exactly it is) is another big cultural event in Hilo, bringing out a huge population of children and parents:

In spite of that, the Chinese food in this town is terrible. On the up side, we have at least half a dozen decent-to-great Thai restaraunts (no, I don’t know why?, and fantastic Japanese food (that’s an easy one).

Update: to be fair, I should point out that Hilo does have a Chinese diaspora community, though it’s not as large as it has been. They used to have a church, though it no longer serves a purely ethnic constituency.

8 responses to “Globalized Chinese Culture”

  1. Alan Baumler says:

    Well, at least you are better off for Chinese culture than we were in Georgia. Although there were Dragon Boat races, which was cool, much of the “Chinese” culture was pretty Americanized. Somewhere I have a picture of the sign on our local Chinese restaurant.

    “Chinese New Years Buffet –All you can eat corn dogs”

  2. Globalized Chinese Culture – Jonathan Dresner…

    From Frog in a Well blog: Chinese culture is global culture. Though Hawai’i is, in some ways, not a good sample, nonetheless there’s an awful lot of Chinese culture which has been nativized here, well beyond the presence of……

  3. J Chan says:

    ‘In spite of that, the Chinese food in this town is terrible.’

    Of course it is. Chinese celebratory food is based on pork, something that, alas, you are forbidden to taste.

    What do you think of the local Hawaiian hog roasts? I think they are delish!!!

  4. For someone who regularly attacks us for our biases and “jumping to conclusions,” that’s a stunning example of why we don’t take you seriously: nothing like a little anti-semitism to lighten the mood!

  5. J Chan says:

    So, it’s back to the same old story, when you are challenged for proof, you claim ‘anti-semitism’. If one behaved in your fashion, one could claim that you are very anti-Sinitic.

    ‘We don’t take you seriously’. Who are ‘we’? You can certainly speak for yourself, but has anyone else authorised you to speak on their behalf? And does it actually matter? I don’t claim to be an expert historian or a food & drinks critic, you are the one who raised the subject, not I; but I do know a thing or two about information and factual analyses. I know an untrue claim when I see one. It’s your credibility on the line not mine. In this Information Age, it is not whether your students and peers take you seriously that matters; it is whether the world at large take you seriously.

    You stated in the blog that ‘awful lot of Chinese culture which has been nativized here’, and ‘In spite of that, the Chinese food in this town is terrible’. I even tentatively agreed with you on these points, but I want you to tell us how you would know that when your dietary requirement is incompatible with Chinese food in general. I even offered you the opportunity to give a comparison between native Hawaiian hog roast with a Chinese hog roast (nativized and non-nativized versions), a like-for-like comparison, but you made no reply but instead veered off about ‘anti-semitism’; so one can only assume you know nothing of the subject despite your comments.

    I have seen this kind of bs. Once I had to have a quiet word with a Muslim lad who was only too keen to show off his knowledge of the taste of various alcoholic beverages he wanted to sell, because as it turned out, he had in fact never tasted them. I think we can safely say that the world at large would not take your comments on Hawaiian native food culture and Hawaiian Chinese food seriously.

  6. J. Chan: Yes, I’m Jewish. But I don’t keep Kosher except for certain holidays.

    You’re making blanket assumptions based on limited knowledge, then using that to attack in ways which demean and insult.

    That’s why I don’t take you seriously.

  7. J Chan says:

    ‘You’re making blanket assumptions based on limited knowledge, then using that to attack in ways which demean and insult.’

    You are making a big assumption about my knowledge.

    I have happy memories of several Jewish associates. They didn’t keep Kosher, that was they did eat non-Kosher chicken, beef, lamb, and even crustaceans, and they did mix eating meat and milk together, but they would never eat anything containing pork or even lard. And I would never order or eat a ham sandwich in their presence, in case it caused offence. I have yet to come across a pork-eating Jewish person.

    You categorically stated that the Chinese food in your town (Hilo, Hawaii, I believe) is terrible. This was a blanket condemnation. I asked you for justification, as it was more than likely that you have not even eaten the most important dishes to the Chinese people: Pork. The native Hawaiian celebratory food is also based on pork, and as you say, the Chinese food had been nativized, you should give a comparison between the Chinese hog roast with native Hawaiian hog roast, on a like-for-like basis. You did not give a reply or shed light on whether you knew anything about the subject, but veered off to say you don’t keep Kosher. Thus it is reasonable to assume you personally have no actual knowledge of the subject.

    ‘Demeaning’ and ‘insulting’? Have you thought about how demeaning and insulting you were to the Chinese people in Hilo, Hawaii, with your blanket condemnation of their work? The perception of food and drink is based mostly on culture, upbringing and conditioning, in other words bias. Just because you did not find the Chinese food in Hilo to your taste does not actually mean the food is terrible, it just means that you did not like it. If I did not like bagels, it does not mean bagels are terrible, and I would not put in a blog to say that the Jewish bagels in my town are terrible for everyone to see. So why did you make such a blanket condemnation of the Chinese food in Hilo? Is it because you felt that the Chinese on Hilo are the little people with no voice, so you can say what you like about them, as they would not fight back? If you said that about McDonald’s, you would have a lawsuit on your desk.

    If you don’t want to feel demeaned or insulted, then don’t demean and insult others first. As the saying goes, what goes round comes round.

  8. lirelou says:

    Chinese cultural trivia: Chinese has loaned one word to Bolivian Spanish. In La Paz, Chinese restaurants are called “Chufan”s, which if memory serves, means “let’s eat”. Bolivia was a major mining center in the late 19th and early 20th Century, and the Chinese came in to work in the mines.

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