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Research Seminars



Emma J. Teng
MIT The "Eurasian Problem" and Schooling in 19th Century Hong Kong and Shanghai


12 Apr 2018

4:30 p.m.
4.36 Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus



From the second half of the 19th century, the foreign communities in Hong Kong and Shanghai raised anxieties concerning a mounting "Eurasian Problem," that is, the growing population of mixed-race children that unsettled colonial era racial boundaries. In both locations, schooling was conceived as a vital solution to this so-called problem. This paper will compare colonial and missionary educational initiatives undertaken in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the second half of the 19th century, in particular the DBS/DGS (HK) and Thomas Hanbury Schools (Shanghai), to unpack how educational philosophies were developed in relation to divergent understanding of mixed-race and imperial racial hierarchies. I will also examine the Shanghai Public School controversy of 1897, in which Eurasian pupils were summarily expelled from the school. Though these examples, the paper examines the role of schooling in the differential identity formation of the Eurasian communities in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the late nineteenth century, and emerging discourses of Eurasians as an "intermediate race."


Emma J. Teng is the T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations and the Head of Global Studies and Languages at MIT, where she also holds a dual appointment on the History faculty. Teng is the author of Taiwan's Imagined Geography: Chinese Colonial Travel Writing and Pictures, 1683-1895 and Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China and Hong Kong, 1842-1943. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the State Humanities Council for Massachusetts, and on the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Harvard-Yenching Institute.


All are welcome. No registration is required.