Journal Articles

Winter 2006 - Vol.37/No.2
Editor's Note: Transnational Cultural Flows
Author : Hanping Chiu
Keywords :
Disjuncture at Home: Mapping the Domestic Cartographies of Transnationalism in Gish Jen's The Love Wife
Author : Shu-ching Chen
Keywords : the suburban home, route and root, multiculturalism, Asian transnationalism
This article starts with a discussion of the dialectics of the modern concept of home and away to broach the ideological constructs of American suburban home during the Age of Asian Transnationalism in Gish Jen's novel The Love Wife. The suburban home in the historical context of Asian transnationalism is understood as a treacherous site of competing cultural practices, where the cultural logic of home and away, root and route is at work on both national and transnational axes. The transnational connection of the suburban home reveals the inherent power relations of multiculturalism, which have been skillfully concealed through the ideological linkage of the suburban home and national belonging. The injection of the temporality of Chinese modernity into the temporality of assimilation and acculturation in the multicultural practices of the suburban home creates an Asian/American transnational space, which is able to disrupt the singular national temporality on the one hand, but poses a new challenge to those who attempt to practice transnational rooting/routing on the other hand.
Cultural Transmission and the Voice of the Other: Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban
Author : Shuli Chang
Keywords : Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban, Cathy Caruth, trauma theory, traumatic awakening, transcultural literacy
This paper argues that, in recent years, the emergence of the transnational space marked by cultural hybridity and racial creolization has initiated a crisis of cultural transmission and transcultural communicability. Given that this crisis is the major theme that Cristina Garcia dramatizes in Dreaming in Cuban, this paper seeks to use her debut novel to explore the problematics of transcultural intelligibility or transnational communicability. Drawing upon the trauma theory developed by Cathy Caruth, this paper maintains that in Dreaming in Cuban, Garcia writes a narrative that gestures towards the ethics of "traumatic awakening," which demands one's understanding of the other as an enigmatic site of unconscious desires calling for the kind of response that goes beyond any linguistic rules or principles of reciprocity. By reading Dreaming in Cuban as a novel that deliberately foregrounds the problematics of the voice of the other, I attempt to intervene in diaspora studies by shifting critical attention away from the problematic of identity, cultural or national, to that of ethics.
Representing the Transurbanized Subject in Popular Cinema: MIB: Men in Black and Suwarouteiru (Swallowtail Butterfly)
Author : Chi-She Li
Keywords : transurbanization, MIB, Swallowtail Butterfly, genre mixing, migrant, urban action genre, sci-fi genre, subject, crisis of representation
This paper addresses representations of migrants of the global city in two films, Barry Sonnenfeld's MIB: Men in Black (1997), and Iwai Shunji's Swallowtail Butterfly (1996). I conduct a content analysis, with a particular emphasis on the ideological implications of the mixed genres found in both films. Produced in the mid-90s, coeval with transurbanization, a trend of networked cities campaigned for by neoliberal developmentalism, these two films continue the sci-fi tradition, projecting the transnational subjects onto a framework of fantasy and rework conventions of ghetto action films to figure emerging subjects of networked cities. Comparatively speaking, the subject of the future in MIB is a weak version of such a subject position, heavily mediated through the consumerist logic of visual cuteness. The subject in Swallowtail Butterfly is a stronger version, a speaking subject claiming to have rights to the city to compensate for the severely insufficient cultural protection by the nation state. Both representations are intermediary attempts to account for the still inchoate patterns of immense urbanization as the global future.
Romanization Movements in Japan and China: Reforming National Language, or Universalizing "Tokens of Exchange"?
Author : Horng-luen Wang
Keywords : translingual practice, transliteration, commensurability, Roman script, modernity
Echoing the concepts of "translingual practice" and "tokens of exchange," both brought up by literary critic Lydia Liu, this paper examines the development of Romanization movements in Japan and China from a sociological framework based on Pierre Bourdieu's conceptualization of practice. Although neither of the movements was successful in achieving their final goal of arı overall language reform, they both played active roles in universalizing Roman script as common tokens of linguistic exchange that were circulated worldwide. In the Chinese case, the newly developed pinyin system even achieves a hegemonic status that has changed foreigners' linguistic practice of using Roman script to a considerable extent. Just as the universalizing process of modernity cannot be understood in a single term, struggles over commensurability should not be thought of in mere dichotomies such as domination vis-à-vis resistance or colonization vis-à-vis de-colonization. Rather, such struggles can be better analyzed in terms of the conversions of different kinds of capital and changing the linguistic practice on both the national/local and international/global levels.
Linguistic Flows and Subjectivity in Cross-Writing: Language Experiments in Modern Taiwan Literature
Author : Yu-lin Lee
Keywords : translingual practice, Taiwan literature, linguistic flow, linguistic nomad
This paper looks into the translingual practice in modern Taiwan literature, a local literary production that inscribes the problematic of locality in a mixed, heterogeneous cultural context. It argues that translingual practice in writing connects and traverses boundaries of languages and cultures, and accordingly, informs a process of deformation, transformation, and becoming. Concurrently, translingual practice involves an opening process of creation that provokes a new literature. Translingual writing has played a vital part in Taiwan's literary production. This paper highlights the crossing of linguistic boundaries as well as the condition of the subject in the liminal writing space. The translingual practice in Taiwan's literary production not only depicts an alternative history that emphasizes hybridity and multiplicity as evidenced by literary texts, it also signifies transformative force that induces literary creation in the local context.
"Literature Without Nation": A Study of "Mahua Literature in Taiwan” as Transnational Literature
Author : Kim Tong TEE
Keywords : Mahua literature, MahuaLiT, TaiwanLit, diaspora, border literature, transnationality, literature without nation, borderlessness as border
Placing MahuaLiT [Chinese Malaysian literature in Taiwan] in the context of borderlessness as border, this paper makes use of Ng Kim Chew's concept of literatures in Chinese without nation to relocate MahuaLiT in the polysystem of TaiwanLit from a transnational perspective. As a border literature, MahuaLiT exemplifies the mobility and transnationality of new or emergent Chinese literatures in the Pacific Rim. While Taiwan serves as a flexible and resourceful literary environment for the transnational, diasporic or expatriate producers of literatures in Chinese, the position of MahuaLiT is quite ambiguous. On the one hand, critics of TaiwanLit complain that writers of MahuaLiT tend to write more about the world that they have left behind than the place that they live. On the other hand, they are accused by Mahua critics in Malaysian of misrepresenting their equatorial homeland. Such a double (dis)position of MahuaLiT provokes reflections on its cultural identity and transnationality.
The Ring That Screws: On the Metastasis of Terror and Evil in the Age of Globalization
Author : Jui-hua Tseng
Keywords : horror, gaze, ubiquitous technological mediation, cinematic apparatus, ecstasy of communication, inhuman
In terms of its smashing box office records and the worldwide productions of sequels as well as remakes, Ring (1998) has demonstrated its success as a commercial film. Moreover, taken from the classical scenes that have persistently fascinated its worldwide fans, the film has truly created its unique flair that has inspired many a horror film since its production for emulation. Hence the endless cycles (manga, radio drama, website, video game, etc.) attached to it. With special interest in the worldwide dissemination of terror and evil in the age of globalization, a time when the surging waves of information, culture and commodity flows converge to create a new spectacle of our contemporary world, this paper seeks not only to discover the fundamental elements that account for the overall "ring fever," but also to explore the possibility of its consumption, or rather the possibility of its cure, if we take the uncontrollable dissemination of terror and evil as the metastasis of cancerous proliferation.