Beyond China, Within the Nation: Nationalist Tours of the Nanyang during Republican China.

Dr Antonio Barrento1

1School Of Arts And Humanities Of The University Of Lisbon, Portugal

During the 1920s and the 1930s, interest in tourism and tourist practice expanded in Republican China. In this context, ‘the Nanyang’, South Seas, emerged as a significant focal point in the tourism discourse, while it became the tourist destination of an affluent few. The China Travel Service played a crucial role in this respect, by promoting tourism to the Nanyang and providing related assistance to tourists from China. While examining in general terms the discourse and practice of outbound tourism to the Nanyang during China’s republican period, this presentation explores in particular the nationalist component of the tours. The Nanyang Chinese communities and the Chinese cultural elements in the region ranked high amongst the proposed and actual touristic attractions. In addition, in travel material the ‘tourist gaze’ was occasionally formatted by nationalist considerations. This was a manifestation of a broader reality. Nationalism permeated tourism, as can be particularly observed on the level of discourse. Tourist material related to the Nanyang that was produced during the occupation that followed the Second Sino-Japanese War reiterated these nationalist concerns. To a significant extent, touring abroad in the Nanyang was an expression of national anxiety and national assertion. In this sense, the nation was on tour.


António Barrento is an assistant professor at the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon. He holds a Ph.D. in Chinese History from SOAS and master’s degrees in Asian Studies, Asian History and Japanese Language and Society. In terms of research, he has focused on the history of tourism in Modern China.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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