TORONTO, November 8th, 2023: On Sunday, November 5, 2023, the Zoryan Institute welcomed Dr. Lok Siu of UC Berkeley to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus to speak about  Zoryan Institute’s recent publication, ‘The Chinese Diaspora: Its Development in Global Perspective’, a volume co-edited by Lok Siu with Khachig Tölölyan. This event was hosted by the International Institute for Diaspora and Transnational Studies (A Division of the Zoryan Institute) with the collaboration of MPP Aris Babikian, Scarborough-Agincourt.

Dr. Lok Siu is a cultural anthropologist and Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Asian American/Asian Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley. She is also the Chair of Berkeley’s Senate Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Campus Climate, as well as an affiliated faculty in Anthropology, the Center for Race and Gender, the Center for Chinese Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Berkeley Food Institute. She is also a member of Zoryan Institute’s  Academic Board.

Megan Reid, Deputy Executive director of Zoryan Institute contextualized why Zoryan Institute initiated the publication of Diaspora collection series focused on specific diaspora groups, tackling their unique themes, trends, and characteristics. She said, “In an era of rapid globalization, the formal and informal power of border-crossing networks is increasingly pertinent for policymakers, business leaders, scholars, and civil society. In this context, diasporas formed from various categories of people, such as political and war refugees, immigrants, and ethnic and racial minorities, matter a great deal. They maintain a sense of collective identity away from their homeland, and they operate exemplary transnational networks between host states and homelands.

Professor Lok Siu presented some main themes from her book including key characteristics of the 50 million strong Chinese Diaspora, dispersed over 148 countries worldwide. She described the global imagery of China and the interpretation of Chinese in three distinct perspectives: a) China as a civilization, b) China as a global market, and or as trade competition, and 3) China as a political enemy.

Furthermore she discussed the cultivation of homeland-Diaspora ties, in a global perspective, with the Republic of China and Republic of China respectively. She then explained how the U.S. Asian exclusion laws and the significant role they played in the treatment of Chinese in Canada and the United States.

Following her talk Professor Siu led a lively discussion about the recent rise in anti-Asian and anti-Chinese sentiments, hate crimes and anti-Asian violence, especially during the Covid 19 period. She then highlighted the current context of what might be driving anti-Asian hate, how anti-Asian racism should be addressed, through education in elementary schools and university programs.

This event was attended by some of the leading members of the GTA’s Chinese community, including school board trustees, cultural center leaders, citizenship judges, Chinese media representatives and honorable Ontario MPP Aris Babikian. The latter thanked the community representatives. Mr. Babikian shared the following with the audience:

“I am sure my constituency joins me to thank Dr. Siu and the Zoryan Institute for providing this opportunity to bring to us the fruits of her research and documentation on the Chinese diaspora to our constituency here in Toronto. Indeed, we have learned immensely today, and it is my recommendation that we all make special efforts to disseminate this information within our community at large.”

The Zoryan Institute is dedicated to working with its Board Member, Prof. Lok Siu, and local representatives in attendance at the book talk, to improve education in Ontario around Chinese-Canadian Diaspora Studies, and to develop educational programs that address the Anti-Asian Hate that has been on the rise since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To watch the Zoryan Institute’s webinar addressing this subject, click on the link here


Zoryan Institute takes this opportunity to express their sincere gratitude first for the support and collaboration of MPP Aris Babikian in making this event possible and to thank Lok Siu for joining us in Toronto, presenting her book, and leading a terrific discussion with some of our community leaders.