China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Drawing on Shu-mei Shih's Sinophone studies theory, this panel explores the connections between identity and language in texts and other cultural expressions, which migrated from China to “the margins.” By showing how people present multifaceted identities – performing against and along lines set by national, cultural and language boundaries – this panel visualizes the challenges and possibilities marginal “actors” face as they seek to self-define.
Castorina illustrates how the proselytization of young Chinese by Italian missionaries in the 18th century led to an involuntary and excessive performance of Chineseness. Stecher examines the intersection of languages on a textual and a performative level by analyzing Lu Xun plays which traveled to places outside the Mandarin-speaking sphere. Pedone demonstrates how the artist and writer Chen Xi critically uses the commodification of Chinese culture in order to create her own transcultural identity, one that stands between China, Italy and the UK. Ehrenwirth shows how Sinophone writers in Southeast Asia include and play with their languages in order to emphasize their floating identity.
The panel engages with translation and Sinophone studies to emphasize that languages, just as identities, are indeed not fixed and given but fluid. By looking at examples from the past to the present, the papers discuss the various forms of “Chinese performance” and their contribution to a diverse Sinophone world. Through these divergent disciplinary perspectives the panel ultimately considers how the identity of a dominant culture, how “Chineseness” is translated and transformed by those who migrate.