Charlson Ong’s award-winning novel An Embarrassment of Riches (2000) creatively narrates the history of the Chinese diaspora as an overdetermined event in the Southeast Asian Region. The novel explores the politics of belonging, displacement, identity, and territory through a/n (re)imagined nation built primarily on Philippine historical and cultural contingencies. This essay seeks to explore the junctures and vicissitudes of the Chinese diaspora in the region through the following questions: How is hybridity manifested by selected characters and other cultural elements in the narrative? Second, how do the perceptions of homeland, marked by ambivalence and contradiction, operate in the narrative? And third, how does the memory of the characters’ homeland or the lack of it contribute to identity formation? Furthermore, an analysis of the novel’s form has been conducted, possibly asserting the notion that the genre is also a hybridized entity. This paper illustrates the complexity of the Chinese diaspora in the region and its bearing to identity formation.


Charlson Ong, Chinese Culture, Chinese Diaspora, Chinese Filipino Identity, Genre, Southeast Asia, Speculative Fiction

Please login first to access subscription form of article

Read Full text in PDF

Browse By

Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)