Writing the South Seas

Updated: 2012-11-30 06:49

(China Daily)

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 Writing the South Seas

A windmill stands in the town square in Malacca. Nanyang, the "South Seas", is the traditional Chinese term for Southeast Asia. Provided to China Daily

In this lecture, scholars of Chinese literature will discuss Writing the South Seas: Postcolonial Literature and the Nanyang Imagination, a new book manuscript by Brian Bernards, assistant professor of East Asian languages and cultures at the University of Southern California.

Writing the South Seas traces the transcolonial legacy of nanyang as a literary trope in modern Chinese literature and explores its transnational and translingual "afterlives" in the postcolonial literatures of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Nanyang, the "South Seas", is the traditional Chinese term for Southeast Asia. Unlike "southeast Asia", which reflects a Eurocentric continental epistemology, Nanyang is an archipelagic, though Sinocentric, concept. It envisions the tropical southern seascape as connecting rather than separating the peninsular and island landscapes of the region.

The term's varied connotations reflect its rich history, including imperial maritime voyages to tributary, "barbarian" kingdoms, massive transoceanic migrations of Chinese populations during the era of Western imperialism and Japanese occupation, and 20th-century convergences of competing diasporic, settler and indigenous nationalisms in the region.

Date: Dec 7

Venue: Ahn Family House, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Website: dornsife.usc.edu/eascenter/writing-the-south-seas

China Daily

(China Daily 11/30/2012 page23)