BOOK LAUNCH – Strangers in the Family: Gender, Patriliny, and the Chinese in Colonial Indonesia

BOOK LAUNCH – Strangers in the Family: Gender, Patriliny, and the Chinese in Colonial Indonesia

Date: Friday, 1 December, 2023

Time: 6–8 pm

Venue: Ixora Room, The Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941

ISEAS Publishing is offering the special book launch price of SGD$20 at this event.


6 pm: Registration and light buffet dinner

6.30 pm: Welcome Remarks by Associate Professor Nala Lee (NUS English, Linguistics, and Theatre Studies) and Introduction by Chair, Associate Professor Zhou Taomo (NTU History)

6.35-7 pm: Presentation by Assistant Professor Seng Guo-Quan (NUS History)

7-7.20 pm: Discussion of book with two guest speakers (A/P Zhou Taomo & A/P Nala Lee)

7.20-7.40 pm: Q and A with audience, Moderated by Chair

7.40-8 pm: Book signing and mingling with audience

7.40-9 pm: End of event; audience encouraged to visit The Peranakan Museum

About the Book

In Strangers in the Family, Guo-Quan Seng provides a gendered history of settler Chinese community formation in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial period (1816–1942). At the heart of this story lies the creolization of patrilineal Confucian marital and familial norms to the colonial legal, moral, and sexual conditions of urban Java.

Departing from male-centered narratives of Overseas Chinese communities, Strangers in the Family tells the history of community- formation from the perspective of women who were subordinate to, and alienated from, full Chinese selfhood. From native concubines and mothers, creole Chinese daughters, and wives and matriarchs, to the first generation of colonial-educated feminists, Seng showcases women’s moral agency as they negotiated, manipulated, and debated men in positions of authority over their rights in marriage formation and dissolution. In dialogue with critical studies of colonial Eurasian intimacies, this book explores Asian-centered inter-ethnic patterns of intimate encounters. It shows how contestations over women’s place in marriage and in society were formative of a Chinese racial identity in colonial Indonesia.

About the Author

Seng Guo-Quan is a historian of Chinese societies in Southeast Asia, with a special interest in race, gender, and sexuality formations in the region, and how they have been shaped by empires, migration, and global capitalism. He has been trained in History at the University of Cambridge (BA), National University of Singapore (MA), and the University of Chicago (PhD). Strangers in the Family: Gender, Patriliny and the Chinese in Colonial Indonesia (Cornell University Press, November 2023) is his first single-authored monograph. He has also published with Comparative Studies in Society and History, Indonesia, Journal of Chinese Overseas, and been invited to contribute essays to the Cambridge History of Southeast Asia (forthcoming, 2025) and the Oxford Handbook of Asian Migration and Diaspora (2025/6) projects.

He is now working on a second book tentatively titled, “A Diaspora of Shopkeepers: Empire, Race and Chinese Commercial Expansion in Southeast Asia (1870-1970s)”. With a focus on Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, it looks at the history of cross-border business network formations and race-relations on the ground in the process of Chinese wholesale and retail trade expansion. He is also active in heritage research on a related subject, “Small Shops and Business in Chinatown, 1819-1980s” (NHB Heritage Research Grant, 2023-25).

Get the book: CUP –


strangers in the family poster

Print Friendly, PDF & Email