Eurasian Nation: Essentialism and Hybridity in Cedric Dover's Vision of Pan-Eurasian Unity

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 11:40 AM
Missouri Room (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Emma J. Teng, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Beginning in the 1920s, Eurasian biologist and political activist, Cedric Dover, urged Eurasians throughout Asia to unite in solidarity.  Yet what could serve as common ground for “mixed” populations as diverse as the Anglo-Indians, the Luso-Malays, the Franco-Vietnamese, and the Anglo-Chinese?  Dover was one of the earliest to theorize a pan-Asian Eurasian identity.  How do his ideas about Eurasians as a unified race stand at odds with the construct of the Eurasian as a "racial hybrid"?

            For Dover, the [once derogatory] "Eurasian" label served as an umbrella term to unite the varied "mixed-race" populations.  Dover argued that Eurasians were unified by their shared experience of "half-caste" status.  Embracing the notion of hybrid vigor, he further advocated racial solidarity on the grounds that Eurasians were biologically a "race in the making."  Dover countered patriarchal colonial definitions of "Anglo-Indian" identity by urging the "Eurasian" community to include those with Asian mothers.   Reacting against the institutional practices through which Eurasians were encouraged to affiliate with European forefathers, Dover asked Eurasians to reconfigure their identities as "natives" of Asia, with roots in the mother['s] land, and the "mother tongue."  Finally, he exhorted Eurasians to identify with "Black" over "White."

            This paper will examine the tension between essentialism and hybridity, and the dynamics of gender in Dover's work.  I also consider the historical legacy and implications of Dover's ideas concerning a pan-Eurasian identity for contemporary cyber-communities such as the "," a self-proclaimed global community of people united by the "Eurasian experience."

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