Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First Post: My Blog's Intention

I really dislike laowai blogs. Laowai is a Chinese term that means "foreigner" - a term not just used by Chinese, but by any self-respecting foreigner who lives in the PRC (People's Republic of China). It is a term that, when I hear it uttered from a construction worker or other passerby as I walk down the street, it rings in my ear and lisences an immediate "laowai" retort. Westerners are trained to feel that any label is inherently offensive, as it implies a certain amount of assumptions about someone based on her or his appearances. If you ask a Chinese person, however, they will insist that laowai is an endearing term - literally, it means "Ol' Foreigny." I will not delve deeper into the anthropological and psychological implications of the use of a single term to describe a group of people (or rather, a non-group of people; that is, everyone who is not Chinese-looking), because as I said, I dislike laowai blogs.

Laowai blogs are ceaselessly self-promoting. The laowai blogger will surreptitiously hint at his Chinese linguistic powers; he will analyze why China, in a word, is not America; he has the money to dine and drink at high-end bars, but those events never make the blog. Instead, he expounds on the occasional ground-breaking (and probably one-sided) conversation with a local taxi driver concerning China's cultural superiority over The West. Bloggers have the power that was never granted to previous generations of writers and commentators; anonymity of experience, selection of detail, regurgitation of uncertified knowledge, and image-sculpting priveleges comparable to those of Donatello (I say privelege as opposed to abilites; you will surely read more about this conflict later).

So let me rephrase: I dislike typical laowai blogs. In considering the projection of my future blogging, I suppose I too cannot help but tread on these trite laowai-caricature follies; there exist limitations. Most prominently, I cannot discuss my experience in China without obligingly weaving in China's current quandary of Westernization vs. Sinocization (modernization is not debatable - China is heading, full-speed, into blind modernization. Let us hope Edward Smith is never appointed Chairman). I will avoid topics that can be found in any given laowai blog, and avoid scooping from the dredge of uncited knowledge. I guess you could say this blog is an extension of my graduate studies, aimed at other laowai's with an academic interest in China.



  1. I'm all a-quiver with excitement after reading this rousing "mission statement" I do hope you will dazzle us with your unorthodox approach to laowai-ness. Though I hope it's not too bold of me to ask wot exactly makes a non-typical laowai blog? Or is the answer: "stay tuned for the next entry" ? Relishing the chance to read the rest

  2. Also, I like the white on brown. It's like frosting on a cupcake.