Recent scholarship has shown that in cosmopolitan urban spaces, identities are flexible, and migrants often integrate smoothly. But Shanghainese and Cantonese tailors who migrated to Hong Kong after World War II developed a different trajectory of identity transformation. Instead of simply integrating into a single social collectivity based on claims to a common Chinese ethnicity, they forged separate diasporic identities according to their places of origin. By problematising the arrival of Shanghainese tailors and their interactions with Cantonese tailors in Hong Kong, this article shows that pride in a place-based identity along with a strong sense of exclusiveness facilitated the maintenance of social boundaries by the Shanghainese community against the Cantonese. It argues that despite the common Chinese-ness of both migrant communities, place of origin was employed as a critical form of social identification and differentiation, creating an as-yet insurmountable barrier to the amalgamation of the two Chinese communities.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Hong Kong
- place of origin