Performing Foreignness in the Motherland (a comic)
Art by Wendy Xu (no, we are not related )
Even though I’ve lived in the U.S. for over 20 years, someone’s always asking me where I’m “from from.” So when I embarked on my nine week trip to do fieldwork in China, I thought that passing as a local would feel like a refreshing change of pace. Instead, I quickly realized that being read as foreign had its own perks: people are more curious and open towards foreigners, more forgiving of blunders and dumb questions. The same locals who brushed me off for being a clueless weirdo swarmed white expats for their exotic appeal.
For the first time in my life, I wanted to cash in my foreigner points, too…