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Representations of British Chinese identities and British television drama: mapping the field

Knox, S. (2019) Representations of British Chinese identities and British television drama: mapping the field. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 16 (2). pp. 125-145. ISSN 1755-1714

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2019.0465

Abstract/Summary

While important scholarship exists on the television representations of Asian American identities, research in the UK has been focused on African Caribbean and South Asian identities. Very little scholarly attention has been paid to televisual representations of British Chinese identities, despite the British Chinese constituting one of the larger and fastest growing ethnic minority groups within contemporary Britain. Informed by an understanding of the complexity of the term ‘British Chinese’, this article explores the representation of British Chinese identities in British television drama. Despite the long-standing absence and invisibility of such identities in British television, as perceived within the popular imagination in Britain and British Chinese discourses, the article finds that a larger number of British Chinese actors have found notable employment in British television than is commonly acknowledged or remembered within the popular imagination. The article draws on a database that deploys a range of research, including archive research at the BFI Reuben Library, to map the presence of British Chinese actors in British television drama since 1945. Through this historiographic focus, the article identifies some of the most significant trends in representations of British Chinese identities in British television drama. It then illustrates and provides more specific texture to these broader patterns through the close textual analysis of a case study, the BBC1 flagship series Sherlock (2010-present). It concludes by reflecting on the contemporary period, which has seen an influx of British Chinese actors in British television drama as well as high-profile diversity campaigning within Britain.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Minority Identities
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:78894
Uncontrolled Keywords:BAME representations; politics of representation; yellow peril; Orientalism; Sherlock; BBC; Burt Kwouk; David Yip; Sarah Lam; Gemma Chan.
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press

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