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The China MystiquePearl S. Buck, Anna May Wong, Mayling Soong, and the Transformation of American Orientalism$
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Karen Leong

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520244221

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520244221.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong

(p.57) Chapter 3 Anna May Wong
The China Mystique

Karen J. Leong

University of California Press

As an American-born female of Chinese ancestry, Anna May Wong experienced the legacies of American orientalism. Her status complicated the orientalist assumption that Asian identity was completely different to American identity. Wong faced ambivalence in both the United States and China because of seeming uncertainty about her identity. Her U.S. citizenship was always in question because of her racial heritage. Wong constantly redefined herself as a Chinese American in relation to shifting international relationships and competing national interests within the film industry. Wong's career and life choices were deeply affected by changes in the United States' national identity and relations with China, which in return resulted in changing popular portrayals of China. Her negotiations of the transition from American orientalism to Chinese charisma reflect and emphasize the interdependence between the production of popular culture and America's national identity.

Keywords:   Anna May Wong, orientalism, confusion, identity, United States, China, artist

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