Worlding Chinese Literature: Sinophone Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is home to large numbers of peoples of Chinese descent, including some who arrived relatively recently, and others whose ancestors have been living in the region for many generations. The position of ethnic Chinese is particularly interesting in contemporary Malaysia, where Chinese constitute a large minority of the population, and where a set of state policies have help to preserve and encourage a distinction between Chinese ethnicity and culture, on one hand, and Malay ethnicity and culture, on the other. One result of this has been the emergence of a dynamic and eclectic body of literary production by Malaysian Chinese authors—including authors writing in Chinese, in Malay, and in English, and including authors residing in Malaysia, in Taiwan, or in other regions.

The workshop will bring together prominent Malaysian Chinese authors and scholars of Sinophone literature from the Southeast Asian region and elsewhere. Topics will include: 1) the formal components of this literature, and particularly the ways many of these authors draw on a set of modernist conventions; 2) negotiations of ethnicity, language, territory, and identity; 3) religion and culture, particularly in Malaysia, where most of the ethnic Malays are Muslim; 4) political contestations, and particularly the legacy of the underground Malaysian Communist Party from the mid-century period. 

April 14, 2017
Duke University