SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Wong, Yuet Heng (2022) Constructing Cantonese-ness(es): Relocations and Remediations of Chao Shao-an’s Paintings across the Asia-Pacific, c. 1950s- 2010s. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] Text (Vol.1) - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 2 December 2025.


This thesis defines and deconstructs what the author calls the “Chao Shao-an Phenomenon”, and analyses how Chao’s paintings have been disseminated and represented by himself and his followers in different regions in the Asia-Pacific since the mid-20th century. It argues that these different representations of Chao’s paintings have been effectively constructing different forms of Cantonese identities for different Cantonese communities in relation to the various local cultural politics. Readers can expect five chapters, each of which focuses on one representation of Chao’s paintings in one region in the making of one form of Cantonese identity. These representations encompass a wide range, including but not limited to reproduction and publication, art-history writing, imitation, exhibition sites, and the collecting of Chao’s works, respectively, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, San Francisco, Guangzhou, and Singapore. Breaking through the overwhelming, standard biographical narrative of Chao, as well as the general visual analysis of his works that is limited to descriptions of his major painting techniques, this research aims to open new directions in the fields of art history and social history in three ways. Firstly, with its cross-regional scope, it puts forward a more local-global mapping and perspective in narrating the biography of Chao’s oeuvres beyond their general labels of “Chinese art” and the “Lingnan School”. Secondly, by examining the intermediality between painting and the series of forms of popular media listed above, it urges a closer visual and sociological investigation of the very process of how an artwork can access to and generate meanings to a wider public. Thirdly, more broadly, it hopes to demonstrate the ways how diaspora studies — which often marginalises visual materials and analysis — can be bridged with art history to enrich and complicate the existing scholarship on the making of Cantonese and Chinese identities in the 20th century.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Shane McCausland, Stacey Pierson and Panpan Yang
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2023 17:03

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item