“Take-Away” My Childhood: The Second-Generation British Chinese in the Catering Trade

Yun-Hua Hsiao


The British Chinese have long been under-studied and thus, barely understood. Moreover, as the catering trade is an important industry of the British Chinese, those who work in this business are often the target of assault for they need to face people from the outer world, including the unfriendly and even aggressive ones. This paper then focuses on the British Chinese subjects who work in the catering trade, with special attention to the second-generation British Chinese children who are asked to “help out” to facilitate the operation of the business. In their writings, these young people depict their parents’ toiling labor and vent their anger on racism and seclusion from social life. Literary productions about or by the second/third generation British Chinese are sparse and dispersed. Based the available pieces created by the second/third-generation British Chinese, this paper aims to examine their struggles working at family-run catering businesses from Miri Song’s sociological perspectives.


British Chinese, catering trade, help out, second-generation

Full Text:



Baxter, S. (1988). A political economy of the ethnic Chinese catering industry. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation], University of Aston.

Baxter, S. & Raw, G. (1988). Fast food, fettered work: Chinese women in the ethnic catering industry. In S. Westwood & P. Bhachu (Eds.), Enterprising women: Ethnicity, economy and gender relations (pp. 58-75). Routledge.

BBC News. (2005, April 29). Shopkeeper killed by teenage gang. BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/4496359.stm

Benton, G., & Gomez, E. T. (2008). The Chinese in Britain: 1800-present: Economy, transnationalism, identity. Palgrave Macmillan.

Bunnin, A. L. (1992). Thoughts on being Chinese. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (pp. 1-3). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Chan, G. (Ed.). (1997). Dim sum (little pieces of heart): British Chinese short stories. Crocus .

Chan, M. C. (1997). Snowdrop. In G. Chan (Ed.), Dim sum (pp. 97-99). Crocus.

Cheung, T. (1994). A wayward girl. In J. Lim & L. Yan (Eds.), Another province (pp. 157-160). Lambeth Chinese Community Association & SiYu Chinese Times.

Cheung, T. (1997). Snapshots of a girl’s life. In G. Chan (Ed.), Dim sum (pp. 91-96). Crocus .

Ching, H. (1997). Violin practice. In G. Chan (Ed.), Dim sum (pp. 47-55). Crocus.

Clark, K., & Drinkwater, S. (2006, December). Changing patterns of ethnic minority self-employment in Britain: Evidence from census microdata [Discussion Paper No. 2495]. IZA. file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/SSRN-id955810.pdf

Francis B., Mau, A., & Archer, L. (2017). Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies, 43(14), 2331-2345. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2017.1315852

Grant, M., & Rushton, A. (2018). Further analysis of the British Chinese Adoption Study (BCAS): Adult life events and experiences after international adoption. Children and Youth Services Review, 91, 355-363. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.06.004

Grice, H. (2002). Negotiating identities: An introduction to Asian American women’s writing. Manchester University Press.

Home Affairs Committee. (1986). Chinese community in Britain: The Home Affairs Committee report in context. Runny Trust.

Hsiao, Y. H. (2014). Women in British Chinese writings: Subjectivity, identity, and hybridity. Chartridge Books Oxford.

International Organization for Migration, United Nations. (2019). Chapter 1 Report Overview: Providing Perspective on Migration and Mobility in Increasingly Uncertain Times. In World migration report 2020. https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/wmr_2020_en_chapter1_004.pdf

ISCN. (1992). Friday 20th March 1992. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (pp. 25-27). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

James, W. Y. (2019). Imprint of Racism: White Adult Males’ Transformational Experience from Racial Antipathy to Racial Reconciliation. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 3(1), 93-116. https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/5813

Knox, S. (2019). Representations of British Chinese identities and British television drama: Mapping the field. Journal of British cinema and television, 16(2), 125-145. https://doi.org/10.3366/jbctv.2019.0465

Kwan, T. L. (1997). A question of debt. In G. Chan (Ed.), Dim sum (pp. 75-84). Crocus .

Lacy, M., Man, L., & Lim, J. (Eds.). (1992). Exploring our Chinese identity. Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Lam,V. L., & Tran, D. H. (2017). Ethnic cognition and affect of British-Born Chinese children. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 7(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/jedp.v7n1p135

Lee, D. K. Y. (1997). Game boy. In G. Chan (Ed.), Dim sum (pp. 63-67). Crocus .

Lee, P. F. (1994). From Short, fat, ugly and Chinese. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Another province (pp. 172-192). Lambeth Chinese Community Association & SiYu Chinese Times.

Lim, J., & Yan, L. (Eds.). (1994). Another province: New Chinese writing from London. Lambeth Chinese Community Association & SiYu Chinese Times.

Lovett, S. (2020, May 5). Coronavirus: Hate crime against Chinese people almost triple in UK during pandemic, police data shows. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-uk-hate-crimes-chinese-people-china-a9499991.html

Man, L. (1992). Not quite Chinese. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (p.16). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Mo, L. K. (1992a). Chinas with Belfast accents. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (pp. 18-19). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Mo, L. K. (1992b). I did a stint in my dad’s shop for a summer or two. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (pp. 20-21). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Mo, L. K. (1992c). Jacky – No, sorry, ain, I mean. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (pp. 17-18). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Mo, T. (1999). Sour Sweet. Paddleless. (Original work published 1982)

Ng, S. W. (1992). Fish and chips. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (pp. 28-29). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom. (2011, May 18). Population estimates by ethnic group 2002–2009. file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/populationestimatesbyethnicgroupstatisticalbulletin_tcm77-220265%20(1).pdf

Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom. (2013, July 25). Comparison of mid-2010 population estimates by ethnic group against the 2011 census. C:UsersuserDownloadscomparisonofmid2010peegsagainst2011censusestimatesv2_tcm77-320363.pdf

Overseas Community Affairs Council, Republic of China. (2020). Number of Overseas Chinese. file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/file_84251%20(1).pdf

Pai, H. (2005, May 31). Alarm over surge in anti-Chinese violence. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/may/31/race.world?INTCMP=SRCH

Pang, B. (2020a). Beyond hypervisibility and fear: British Chinese communities’ leisure and health-related experiences in the time of coronavirus. Leisure Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1080/01490400.2020.1773991

Pang, B. (2020b). Problematising the (in) visibility of racialized and gendered British Chineseness in youth health and physical cultures. Journal of Sport, Education and Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/13573322.2020.1732338

Pang, M. (2003). Boundaryless careers? The (in-)voluntary (re-)actions of some Chinese in Hong Kong and Britain. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 14(5), 809-820. https://doi.org/10.1080/0958519032000080811

Parker, D. (1999). Britain. In L. Pan (Ed.), The encyclopedia of the Chinese overseas (pp. 304-309). Curzon.

Prawn, B. (1992). Maaa- tarrr! In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (p. 38). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Shang, A. (1984). The Chinese in Britain. Batsford Academic and Educational.

Song, M. (1995). Between “the front” and “the back”: Chinese women’s work in family businesses. Women’s Studies International Forum, 18, 285-98. https://doi.org/10.1016/0277-5395(95)80073-X

Song, M. (1999). Helping out: Children’s labor in ethnic businesses. Temple University Press.

Song, M. (2001) Chinese children’s work roles in immigrant adaptation. In P. Mizen, C. Pole, & A. Bolton (Eds.), Hidden hands: International perspectives on children’s work and labour (pp. 55-69). Routledge.

Song, M. (2003). Choosing ethnic identity. Polity.

Tek, Y. Y., & Lek, E. (2018). Culture and reflexivity: Systemic journeys with a British Chinese family. Journal of Family Therapy, 40(4), 520-536.https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12205

Tse, H. (2007). Sweet mandarin: The courageous true story of three generations of Chinese women and their journey from east to west. Thomas Dunne.

Tse, W. (1992). In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (pp. 52-55). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Wong, P. (1992). The great wall. In M. Lacy, L. Man, & J. Lim (Eds.), Exploring our Chinese identity (p. 58-59). Lambeth Chinese Community Association.

Wong, P. (1997a). Daydream of a butterfly. In G. Chan (Ed.), Dim sum (pp. 9-18). Crocus.

Wong, P. (1997b) Uproar. In G.Chan (Ed.), Dim sum (pp. 69-74). Crocus.

Yip, D. (1990). Introduction. In T. Mo (Ed.), Sour sweet (pp. v-x). Paddleless.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/341


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies  E-ISSN: 2149-1291

Copyright © Center for Ethnic and Cultural Studies (CECS) Publishing Inc.

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'ejecs.org' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank  EBSCO HostCrossRef DOI – EScience Press

upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Gal... News & Views: Analyzing the DOAJ - Delta ThinkICI Journals Master Listerihplus hashtag on TwitterProQuest (@ProQuest) | Twitter