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Contesting the ‘model minority’: racialization, youth culture and ‘British Chinese’/‘Oriental’ nights

Yeh, D. (2014). Contesting the ‘model minority’: racialization, youth culture and ‘British Chinese’/‘Oriental’ nights. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(7), pp. 1197-1210. doi: 10.1080/01419870.2014.859288


While racialized youth are often central in debates on citizenship, multiculturalism and belonging, those ascribed as ‘British Chinese’ are constructed as model minorities, lacking a hybridized culture but insulated from racism, and thus invisible in these discussions. This article argues, however, that the model minority discourse is itself a specific form of contemporary racialization that revives ‘yellow peril’ discourses on the capacities of particular ‘Oriental’ bodies. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, it examines how young people challenge these constructions, by drawing on popular culture to organize and participate in what they call ‘British Chinese’ and, more provocatively, ‘Oriental’ nightlife spaces. It analyses how through these spaces participants forge a sense of identity that allows them to reimagine themselves as racialized subjects. It demonstrates how these spaces constitute transient sites of experimental belonging, facilitating new cultural politics and social identifications that at once contest reified conceptions of British Chineseness yet also create new exclusions.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ethnic and Racial Studies on 3 Jan 2014, available online:
Publisher Keywords: British Chinese, Oriental, model minority, nightlife and popular music, belonging, racialization
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Culture & the Creative Industries
SWORD Depositor:
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