The Chinese Atlantic
Seascapes and the Theatricality of Globalization
Published by: Indiana University Press
In The Chinese Atlantic, Sean Metzger charts processes of global circulation across and beyond the Atlantic, exploring how seascapes generate new understandings of Chinese migration, financial networks and artistic production. Moving across film, painting, performance, and installation art, Metzger traces flows of money, culture, and aesthetics to reveal the ways in which routes of commerce stretching back to the Dutch Golden Age have molded and continue to influence the social reproduction of Chineseness. With a particular focus on the Caribbean, Metzger investigates the expressive culture of Chinese migrants and the communities that received these waves of people. He interrogates central issues in the study of similar case studies from South Africa and England to demonstrate how Chinese Atlantic seascapes frame globalization as we experience it today. Frequently focusing on art that interacts directly with the sites in which it is located, Metzger explores how Chinese migrant laborers and entrepreneurs did the same to shape—both physically and culturally—the new spaces in which they found themselves. In this manner, Metzger encourages us to see how artistic imagination and practice interact with migration to produce a new way of framing the global.
Thoughtfully engaging contemporary aesthetic practices, from performance and visual art to tai chi and documentary film, Sean Metzger connects dots across the Atlantic and to China, as both geopolitical entity and discursive construction. Along the way, he poses bold and generative questions about bodies, identities and representations, and the political and economic relations that make them matter.~Richard Fung, Professor Emeritus, Ontario College of Art and Design University
With careful research and clear-eyed prose, The Chinese Atlantic attunes readers to an archipelogical poetics of Chineseness in the Caribbean that is at once ratifying and revelatory. This is interdisciplinary performance studies scholarship that is destined to make waves!~Tavia Nyong'o, author of Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life
Metzger demonstrates that artworks can be vessels that cut pathways through surface representations and move us with the undercurrents of our global networks: art offers us the experience of sensing the world in ways that release us from the script of a totalizing representational system. The Chinese Atlantic contributes to a growing body of scholarship dedicated to exploring the role of aesthetics and cultural production in the totalizing representational system of liberal humanism.~Hadley Howes, ANTIPODE ONLINE
- John W. Frick Book Award