ABSTRACT

Employing Stuart Hall’s theory on cultural identity and Aihwa Ong’s notion of flexible citizenship, I examine how three key characters in Charlson Ong’s award-winning novel, An Embarrassment of Riches, position their identities in complex contexts, and how economic factors function in shaping their flexible identity. This paper argues that although the flexible identity of diasporic Chinese in the Philippines serves as a useful strategy to acquire economic power, transnational subjects and nation-states need to be cautious about the effects and limitations of flexible citizenship. I also conceive of language as a form of cultural capital and probe the agency of language in constructing flexible identity of the key characters. Further, I explore the effects of flexible citizenship on transnational subjects and nation-states. I aim to shed light on elucidating the specific type of hybridity of Chinese Filipinos, in addition to offering a nuanced understanding of the effects of flexible identity and its social implications.

KEYWORDS: diaspora; flexible citizenship; Chinese Filipino; Charlson Ong; An Embarrassment of Riches