Journal Articles

June 2021 - Vol.51 / No.2
Tiger in the Garden, Elephant at the Gate: Three Zoonimal Narratives
Author : Catherine Diamond
Keywords : Zoos, Southeast Asia, John Berger, Life of Pi, Tigers, Elephants, Literary Animals, The Stolen Bicycle
From Anthropomorphism to Becoming- Animal: Animal Agency in Zhang Guixing’s Nanyang Imagination
Author : Zhifan Sheng
Keywords : Malaysian Chinese literature, Zhang Guixing, animal, anthropomorphism, becoming-animal
Taiwan-based Malaysian Chinese writer Zhang Guixing (Chang Kueihsing 張貴興) has long devoted his literary energy to crafting various types of animals in fictional works set in the Nanyang. Conventional critique seeing Zhang’s fiction as a reflection of a deep-rooted animality in human nature implies a binary mode of thinking that prioritizes humans over animals. By reconstructing the genealogy of Zhang’s animal writing and excavating the potentially subversive force of animal agency, this paper instead suggests that Zhang’s animal writing provides a unique non-anthropocentric vision in dealing with human-animal relationships. Zhang’s animal writing has been gradually deepened and complicated as his literary career has unfolded, but he has always been thinking with animals through a range of writing techniques. In early works such as the short story “Grassland Prince” (草原 王子) and the novel Siren Song (賽蓮之歌), Zhang deploys anthropomorphism as a method of humanizing animals and thereby bringing about the possibility of human-animal interaction. This boundary-breaking trajectory extends to his subsequent works which could be read in light of Deleuze’s philosophical notion of “becoming-animal.” In The Naughty Family (頑皮 家族), Elephants (群象), Monkey Cup (猴杯), and Wild Boars Cross the River (野豬渡河), Zhang creates a fluid kaleidoscopic space in his imagination of the Borneo rainforest, where humans and animals overlap with and even transmute into each other. By closely engaging critical animal studies within Sinophone literature, this paper also uses Zhang’s animal writing to rethink the existing discourses on Sinophone literary studies that have been overshadowed by human-oriented issues such as linguistic politics, ethnic difference, and national identity. In an animalized Nanyang world that enacts multiple becoming, there are no static diasporic trajectories, but only vitality and changeability.
Botanically Adrift: Writing Ecological Estrangement in Two Trees Make a Forest— On Memory, Migration and Taiwan
Author : Jessica White
Keywords : Ecobiography, nature writing, Taiwan, ecosystems, Indigenous people
This essay contributes to literary criticism on ecobiography through an analysis of Jessica Lee’s Two Trees Make a Forest. A genre of life writing which reflects on the imbrication of a human and their ecosystem, ecobiography can be defined through two main themes: the dissolution of the human and non-human, and attention to local environments and ecosystems. However, Two Trees Make a Forest challenges the first of these themes through the obvious disconnect between Lee and the natural environments of Taiwan. Lee attempts to uncover her Taiwanese history following the deaths of her grandparents, and travels to Taiwan for three months to learn the language and explore the island’s natural environments. Throughout her ecobiography, she continually reflects on her unsettlement in Taiwan given her estrangement from her history, and expresses this through reflections on Taiwan’s geology and plants. More subliminally, her disconnect from her maternal family’s culture is expressed through the way she chooses to write about Taiwan’s natural history. Her accounts privilege writing by travelers and colonizers, rather than Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples. This may be attributed to language difficulties—Lee’s main language is English and she accessed translated, printed material—and because of her Western education. Lee also aestheticizes the environments through which she moves, dwelling on their obvious attractions (particularly the plant life) rather than the incursions of human habitation and industrialization. This necessarily leads to a rewriting of one of the themes of ecobiography, in that ecobiographical texts are not so much about representations of the dissolution between the human and its ecosystem, but about the desire for dissolution, and how this can be attained, or not. The essay closes with a meditation on whether one can simply belong to a place by accessing that place’s language, and on the need for time to acquaint oneself with an ecosystem and the cultures that it supports. It concludes with the suggestion that arboreal companions can prompt us to think about human relationships with local ecosystems on a much longer scale.
The Oceanic Frontier: A Review of Imagining Sea Power in 19th- Century America: James Fenimore Cooper’s Sea Writing
Author : Iping Liang
Keywords :
Freud between Two Philosophies, or Psychoanalytical Transdisciplinarity
Author : Astrid Lac
Keywords : transdiscplinarity, psychoanalysis, extimacy, science and humanities, Continental philosophy, analytic philosophy
certain sections of the theoretical humanities, with a focus on the way in which it extends the long-running antagonism between science and the humanities, and “Continental” (theoretical) philosophy and its analytic counterpart. Examining a theoretical transdisciplinary valorization of the Freudian concept of the dream and juxtaposing it with an analytic disciplinary defense of dream interpretation as a method with scientific merit, I elucidate contrasting philosophical approaches to (trans)disciplinarity and correspondingly divergent perspectives on psychoanalysis. I conclude that the theoretical discourse on transdisciplinarity (inclusive of its application to psychoanalysis) obfuscates science as its generative Other, failing to go beyond, even while criticizing, analytic philosophy’s appeal to science as a positive measure of validity. Alternatively, both forms of philosophical thinking fail to account for the ex-timate status of science for philosophy as well as psychoanalysis. This failure ultimately makes it difficult to arrive at a genuinely productive transdisciplinarity which, as Freud’s disciplinary practice demonstrated, would take precisely extimacy as its motor and praxis.
Human-Animal Relations in the Twenty-First Century
Author : Chien-Yi Lu
Keywords : Adorno, Merchant, Prusik, capitalism, industrial meat production, narrative, neoliberalism, science
The overall picture of human-animal relations as they stand in the second decade of the twenty-first century is an appalling one. The suffering of animals, both those designated as consumption goods and those perishing due to the disappearance of habitats, is increasing as the human species continues to wield power through myriad forms of animal extraction, exploitation, production, and consumption. The notion of “human-animal relations,” however, is a misleading one, as it lumps all humans into one classification and obscures the profoundly diverged roles that different groups of people play in shaping society’s collective attitude towards animals. In this article, drawing on Theodor Adorno’s and Carolyn Merchant’s approaches to the tripartite structure of the most widespread forms of human-nature relations, I discuss human-animal relations in the twenty-first century, an era when public policies in a significant part of the world follow neoliberal models. Following the work of Charles Prusik, who considers Theodor Adorno’s idea of natural history instrumental to understanding neoliberalism, I critically dissect the bases of contemporary human-animal relations.