Society and Identity
Biography is very popular in Asia today. There are, in bookshops in most of Asian cities, a lot of biographies telling the life of famous people in the past or in the present like presidents, movie stars or successful businessmen. In general, Asian people love hearing family stories, stories of heros, gods or Buddha. In most of Asian countries, Western theories like structuralism are unknown, and the History is dominated by great men.
But a reseacher who is interested on biography as a historical or literary genre might find it hard to find a serious biography, a biography that respects a kind of truth contrat between the biographer and the reader. This is because the biography in Asia have its own traditions : for thousands years, in the Chinese world (more largest than China) as well as in the Indian world (more largest than India), biography is a serious matter and is written to honor an heros or a model of virtues. The encounter of Western culture during the colonisation (British, French or Dutch) was a discovery for many Asian intellectuals : writing a life of an individu could have several purposes such as building the Nation or discovering the truth of the life.
The purpose of this panel is to take a look of biography writing in Asia in the contemporary period (XX-XXI centuries). Two proposals compare the different biographies of Asian political leaders, Gandhi (India) and Sukarno (Indonesia). Hemlata Giri analyzes two biographies of Gandhi and how he became Mahatma. Etienne Naveau analyzes the writing, the functions and the reception of different biographies of the president Sukarno. Nguyen Phuong Ngoc is interested on the biography in Vietnam during the French colonisation until 1945 ; her purpose is about the new ways of biography writing in the face to face between France and Vietnam.