Organized Panel Session
This panel engages with the Southeast Asian turn in modern Chinese cultural studies since the 2000s. From “Chinese,” “Sinophone” to “Sino-Southeast Asia,” the plurality of terms underscore the contested scholarly interpretations of Chinese cultural production and networks concerning the region. Yet, historically, how did artists negotiate local self-understandings and extra-local perspectives of linguistic and ethnic relations to the region? Through examples of Southeast Asian Chinese literature, film and theater from the 1950s till today, this panel examines cultural flows in the region at significant historical junctures while addressing issues of memory, ethnicity and national identities. Taninvestigates how Singapore writer Wei Beihua’s exposition of Singapore-Malaya-Indonesia connections at the height of Southeast Asian decolonization in the 1950s can explain the tensions between modernist and nationalist impulses in his works. Chanexamines co-existing modes of transregionalism in Malaysian writer Xiao Hei’s short story through the poetics of mobility across two generations of Chinese migrants in West Malaysia at the end of China’s Cultural Revolution. Stenberg traces the development of Sino-Javanese wayang potehi in post-Suharto Indonesia and discusses its transformation from a Chinese temple-based performance into a contemporary art form that traverses ethnic and geographical boundaries. Situating Taiwan-based Malaysian filmmaker Lau Kek Huat’s documentaries about Cold War historical memories in the contemporary context of international film circuits and production networks, Wijaya demonstrates the films’ institutional negotiations across East and Southeast Asia. Collectively, these papers conceptualize Southeast Asia as a shifting discursive construction shaped by historically situated creative practices and transregional cultural crossings.