Journal Articles

December 2011 - Vol.42/No.1
Wild Cosmopolitan Gardens: Some Notes towards a Cosmopolitan Sense of Place
Author : Carmen Flys Junquera
Keywords : sense of place, cosmopolitanism, ecocriticism, place-sensitivity, travel, multiple sensitivities, multiple allegiances
For many critics, a sense of place is crucial in order to achieve a global environmental awareness. Yet in a globalized world, how do we develop that sense of place, which traditionally was rooted in a home place imbued with local values? Many modern and postmodern subjects can no longer identify a home place, and cultural critics are precisely addressing issues of placelessness or non-places as a characteristic of contemporary society. Yet if we do not care about place, how can we care about our home, the earth? Val Plumwood speculates on the characteristics of a place-sensitive society, and Ursula Heise argues in favor of a sense of planet, developing what she calls eco-cosmopolitanism. This article addresses the dilemma of the contemporary cosmopolitan subject with regard to a sense of place. I posit four possible characteristics of how a cosmopolitan might perceive place and show place sensitivity, illustrating them with a series of texts written by cosmopolitan writers. While still a work in progress, the article suggests a possible starting place which might allow for a future formulation of a cosmopolitan sense of place.
Damning Damming Modernity: The Destructive Role of Megadams
Author : Patrick D. Murphy
Keywords : modernity, dams, Asian dam projects, climate change, soil salinity
In Asia, the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have witnessed an extraordinary expansion of mega-dam building. In many cases these dams cause more harm than good. These projects, which epitomize the instrumental mindset of modernity, need to be reconsidered, especially in light of climate change and their long term damage. Hoover dam in the U.S. constituted the first of these projects and its usefulness is coming to an end, suggesting that many dams in Asia may suffer a similar fate. Many of the megadam projects in Asia are being built on rivers fed by the Himalayan glacier system on the Tibetan plateau, yet climate change is altering the future availability of water due to glacial retreat, while changing rainfall patterns may cause flooding in one region and drought in another. Further, these dams have interrupted natural processes with resulting salinization of fields making them unproductive for agriculture. Many writers have spoken against these practices from Linda Hogan to Arundhati Roy to Ishimure Michiko. Their writings remind us that flowing water has an ecological integrity that dammed water has lost. Further, an ecological understanding warns us not to accept the discrete incident mentality that ignores the impact of climate change and treats every dam project as if it were unrelated to other projects and unrelated to long term environmental changes.
Consuming Tibet: Imperial Romance and the Wretched of the Holy Plateau
Author : Jiayan Mi, Jason Toncic
Keywords : Tibet, post-colonialism, power and representation, visuality and geo-politics, landscape and Eurocentrism
This essay tries to appropriate and actualize Said’s critique of Orientalism and Mitchell’s conception of the ideology of the imperial landscape in an attempt to show how the fantasy of Tibet as the Other was constructed by the narrative and visual technologies of imperialist ideology in the service of its own interests. The essay argues that both the mode of conquest and that of being conquered by the Tibetan landscape have misrepresented and distorted the nature of Tibet, thus actually reflecting the effect of imperialist hegemonic power over the indigenous people. Between Western imperialism and the communists, Tibet has been consumed, becoming a “contact zone” in which contending powers and interests play against each other.
The Reception of Modernity in East Asia: Japan in China’s Encounter with the West
Author : Hanping Chiu
Keywords : modernity, East Asia, China, Japan, Lu Xun, Walter Benjamin, The True Story of Ah Q, translation
This paper studies East Asia’s reception of modernity, using Japan’s mediating role in China’s encounter with the West as a point of departure to explore what may result from the subsumption of the particular under the universal. How Japan influenced China in opening up horizons for modern literature will be examined at length. The True Story of Ah Q by Lu Xun (1881-1936) will be chosen to illustrate a translation-like situation China might have found itself in as it observed Japan shifting to the West for reference. I will use, in particular, the slides show incident in Lu Xun’s student days at the Sendai Medical School to show how modern Chinese literature arose out of the vantage point of being at the intersection between Japan and the West in their engagement with modernity.
Bodies That Matter: How Does a Performer Make Himself/Herself a Dilated Body?
Author : Tsu-Chung Su
Keywords : body, energy, Eugenio Barba, dilated body, Body without Organs, Antonin Artaud, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari
What is a “body”? The entire material or physical structure of a human organism? The flesh as opposed to the spirit/mind/soul? An endless weaving together of singular tissues, organs, or states, each of which is an integration of one or more impulses? A relation of forces? The reservoir of language? The inscribed surface of events? The discursive site of poststructuralism? What then is a dilated body? How does a performer make himself/herself a dilated body? Why does the dilation of the body put the body at risk? For Eugenio Barba, director, theorist, and founder of the Odin Teatret, the body is a network of energy. To act is to dilate the body and engage the entire body’s energy. The secret of the performer’s body technique is to dilate “the body’s dynamics.” Barba not only gives us an insight into the performer’s secret art but also provides us with a poetics of the dilated body. The dilated body is a site which expands itself and encompasses the whole field of energy. Only under the circumstances that a performer can dilate his/her body can he/she “consequently also dilate the spectator’s perception.” The purpose of this paper is to explore Barba’s theoretical formulation bearing on the making of a dilated body. This project gains its insights from Artaud’s notion of the “Body without Organs” and is further inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s interpretation of the notion. Thus, before anything else, it purports to discuss the potential meanings and significance of the “Body without Organs” in Artaud’s as well as Deleuze and Guattari’s discourse. Then, it will examine Barba’s theorization of “the dilated body” and its related ideas, such as the notion of energy, the craft of the actor, and the discipline of theatre anthropology. Meanwhile, this paper proposes to analyze Barba’s theory of the dilated body along with other critical thinkers of the body such as Spinoza, Butler, Foucault, Nietzsche, Grotowski, etc.
Who Is Sylvia or Who Are We?: Alternative Subjectivity in Albee’s The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?: Notes toward a Definition of Tragedy
Author : Joy Shihyi Huang
Keywords : Edward Albee, Levinas, ethics, ecology, epistemology
This paper investigates the philosophical question of “who we are” evident in Edward Albee’s work The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?: Notes toward a Definition of Tragedy. Dramatizing a(n) (extramarital) “love affair” between a human being (Martin) and a goat (Sylvia), Albee’s play, I argue, asks a more important question, beyond that of “who is Sylvia,” that is, “who are we.” Taking the self-other issue to the larger context of the human and the nonhuman, the paper examines the dialogism of Emmanuel Levinas’s ethical theory and the play, and further argues that the absolute alterity of the Other forces the Self to face itself, or its own conscience. Hence the Self ’s decision regarding who the Other is simultaneously determines the limits and orientation as to who himself/herself may be. Understood in this light, Albee’s awardwinning play poses in its depiction of a bestial affair fundamental questions concerning the Self and its world as we progress into the 21st century.