Academic journal article ARIEL

Diasporic Writing and the Reconstruction of Chinese National and Cultural Identity or Identities in a Global Postcolonial Context

Academic journal article ARIEL

Diasporic Writing and the Reconstruction of Chinese National and Cultural Identity or Identities in a Global Postcolonial Context

Article excerpt

In the contemporary era, the phenomenon of diaspora and diasporic writing has more and more attracted the attention of literary and cultural studies scholars in postcolonial studies, becoming one of the most cutting-edge theoretical topics in the post-theoretical era, both in the English-speaking world and in China. (1) Well-known critics such as Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha, either out of their own diasporic experience or through analyses of other diasporic writers' works, offered their observations and studies of this phenomenon. Upon entering the age of globalization, along with the increasing blurring of the boundary of nation-states and peoples' national and cultural identity, the study of the large-scale immigration that characterized the past two decades has become more and more attractive to both literature and cultural studies scholars. Although the phenomenon of diaspora and diasporic writing is by no means a contemporary event, it is highlighted in current studies of globalization and in the reconstruction of national and cultural identity or identities. This article will start from this angle to explore diasporic writing in a global postcolonial context.

I. Diaspora as a Consequence of Globalization

I have already largely discussed about the issue of globalization and culture on several other occasions ("Confronting Globalization"; "Comparative Literature"), but before dealing with the phenomenon of diaspora, I will first sum up my own theoretical reconstruction of globalization by chiefly referring to its "glocalized" practice in the Chinese context. In my view, we can reconstruct globalization in the following six aspects: (1) Globalization as a way of global economic operation and development; (2) Globalization as a historical process; (3) Globalization as a critical concept; (4) Globalization as a narrative category; (5) Globalization as a cultural construction; (6) Globalization as a theoretical discourse (Wang "Marxism" 36-39). (2) However, along with the deepening investigation of cultural globalization, and along with the presence of diaspora becoming increasingly conspicuous in a global postcolonial context, we may well add two more elements to our studies: the appearance of the immigration trend and the rise of diasporic writing. (3) Although diaspora and diasporic writing are not just contemporary events, in this part, I will confine my discussion to the diaspora and diasporic writing in the age of globalization.

Tracing the appearance of modern diaspora means taking into consideration the intensification of the circulation of world population in globalization. In this sense, we should say that large-scale immigration started in the late nineteenth century and culminated in the late twentieth century as Marx and Engels took the initiative to describe the capitalist expansion and its consequent new division of international labour: "The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. ... All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed" (68). That is, on the one hand, these capitalists should expand their capitalization, so that they had to move from their own empire (centre) to other parts of the world (periphery). On the other hand, along with capitalist expansion, the people who developed and manipulated the operation and circulation of capital, as well as those seeking work, would certainly move from all parts of the world (periphery) to the world economic and financial centre to find opportunities to develop their business and personal careers: the Euro-American sphere. They settled down there and even established their communities and culture. For the purpose of developing business, they scattered in all parts of the world thereby blurring the artificial demarcation between centre and periphery. They move here and there thus always in a state of fluidity. …

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