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Transnational Cultural Networks of Emigrant Communities from Putian, Fujian: A case Study of the Ng (Huang) of Shiting

Zhenman ZHENG (Xiamen University)
Li ZHENG (Xiamen University)
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Transnational lineage and cult networks are an important aspect of the ties between Overseas Chinese and qiaoxiang emigrant communities, the home villages from which Overseas Chinese or their ancestors originally emigrated. Based on local documents and fieldwork data, this article investigates the transnational cultural network of the Ng (standard Chinese: Huang) lineage of Shiting, Putian, Fujian, in order to study the interactions between the Overseas Chinese and emigrant communities. Since the late Qing, members of the Huang lineage have emigrated in large numbers to Southeast Asia, in particular to Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where they are known as the "Foremost Clan of Henghua (Xinghua) Overseas Chinese Emigrants". Three types of transnational cultural networks link Shiting people in the home village and those overseas: lineage networks symbolized by ancestral halls and ancestral houses, territorial networks based on the local territorial community and symbolized by altars to the god of the soil (lishe) and village temples, and religious cult networks symbolized by altar associations of spirit mediums and the Three-in-One (Sanyijiao) religion. Before World War II, early emigrants practiced cyclical migration, returning to their hometown in their elderly years. Therefore, an independent social and cultural network did not develop in Southeast Asia. After World War II, there was an emphasis on localization in the community overseas, which led to the formation of transplanted lineage organizations, territorial organizations and religious cult organizations. Since the 1980s, these overseas groups have actively promoted cultural revival and reconstruction of tradition in their ancestral homeland, constructed different forms of transnational lineages and religious organizations, encouraging the sustainable development of transnational networks.

Journal of History and Anthropology