Asian Studies professor Cathryn Clayton receives prestigious prize

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Michael A. Aung-Thwin, (808) 956-5962
Chair, Asian Studies
Ned Shultz
Dean, School of Pacific and Asian Studies
Posted: Sep 15, 2010

Sovereignty at the Edge: Macau and the Question of Chineseness
Sovereignty at the Edge: Macau and the Question of Chineseness
UH Mānoa Asian Studies professor Cathryn Clayton has been awarded the Francis L. Hsu Book Prize for the best new book in East Asian StudiesClayton's book is titled "Sovereignty at the Edge: Macau and the Question of Chineseness" (Harvard University Asia Center, 2009). 
The organization that awards the annual Francis L. Hsu Book Prize is the Society for East Asian Anthropology, an officially recognized section within the American Anthropological Association (AAA). The committee was "very impressed by the elegance of [her] prose and the caliber and rigor of [her]  fieldwork."
Below is a direct quote of the Committee's commendation:
"Rare is a book that combines beautiful, flowing prose and elegant argument as is the case with Clayton's monograph. She chose a propitious time to explore the issues of sovereignty and the question of Chineseness: the year prior to the transfer of sovereignty from Portugal to the People's Republic of China in 1999. Notwithstanding guarantees of continuity, it was an anxious time when Portuguese administrators worried that their legacy would soon be forgotten. Clayton writes with a keen eye for the ironies of the Portuguese dilemma-the desire to promote a favorable perspective of their own long presence in Macau through public relations efforts, educational initiatives, and museum projects without appearing to whitewash a history of colonialism. The Portuguese answered this dilemma with an emphasis on a loose style of rule, what Clayton dubs a 'sort of sovereignty,' one evident in a laissez-faire multiculturalism over four centuries that stood in stark contrast starkly with the more overt British style of imperial rule. Chinese residents of Macau, however, could only scoff at what they considered the ineptitude of Portuguese rule, as crime rates soared unchecked. The eve of the sovereignty transfer also was a time of anxiety for Macanese (locally-born residents of Portuguese ancestry), who reacted with a burst of existential angst over having to choose either Chinese or Portuguese citizenship. Clayton provides incisive readings of the popular press, museum displays, informally circulating historical pamphlets, street signs, song lyrics and theater productions, which, along with her extensive interviews in both Cantonese and Portuguese, makes for a rich portrait of a frenetic transition-era Macau, in which the sedimented legacies of a long colonial rule were unsettled by the prospect of an unambiguously Chinese future. In so doing, Clayton has contributed to the anthropological understanding of sovereignty. Sovereignty at the Edge will serve as a model of scholarship for years to come."
Clayton has been teaching in the Asian Studies department at UH Mānoa since 2006.