Lili Shi is an associate professor of communication studies at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York. Her research focuses on transnationalism and diaspora in Brooklyn Chinatowns, particularly maternal identities in lived experiences of transnational birthing. Dr. Shi teaches culture and communication with a critical focus on gender, language, identity, and space. She was born and raised in Southwest China as an ethnic Yi descent of Yunnan Province. She is a transnational and diasporic feminist scholar, teacher, and mother.
This essay is an autoethnographic interrogation on my maternal agency and identity during my pregnancy as a new Chinese immigrant and working professionally in Brooklyn New York. Particularly, I discuss my performative modes of Chineseness and (re)making of culturally hybrid spaces where I negotiated belonging in three communication contexts: my intra-diasporic relationships, Western biomedical gaze on maternal health, and maternal happiness as a cultural construct. I explain that my pregnant identity and feelings were entangled in complex global and local discourses of race, gender, and citizenship, through which my body was constantly being policed, (re)territorized, and de-historized into new spaces of diaspora that calls for discursive infrastructure.
Reproducing Chinesesness as Diaspora: An Autoethnography of Transnational Pregnancy as a Chinese Immigrant