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Queen of the Chinese Colony: Gender, Nation, and Belonging in Diaspora
Abstract

This essay examines the dynamics among diasporic Chinese in Central America and Panama by analyzing a beauty contest and the convention in which it takes place. I argue that diasporic identity and belonging are negotiated through and alongside gender by showing how gender difference is structured into the convention and how the beauty contest, as amicrocosm of the Chinese in this region, reflects the broader social conflicts and cultural transformations of the diaspora. Examining the contestants' performances and the debates they inspired, I illustrate how ethnicity, national difference, immigrant generations, and racial background become key sites where diasporic Chineseness and belonging are negotiated and reworked.