Challenging the reification of ethnic categories, this paper sets out to examine the genealogy of Chineseness in Siam before the early twentieth century by focusing on the pigtail as an alleged sign of Chineseness. A critical scrutiny of G. William Skinner's arguments in his Chinese Society in Thailand and the political and cultural history of the pigtail in both the Middle Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam reveal the variable, situational, and pluralistic meanings of the pigtail. With the pigtail as signifier being thus deconstructed, Chineseness turns out to be a recent invention in Thai racist discourse that had little to do with the pigtail as such.


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