Sem AM Lit (Asian Diasporic Lit) (CSAP/LSE/AP)

This course on Asian literary and
cultural diaspora begins with an exploration of the movement of vast numbers of
people within the political and geographical regions that are today known as
Asia, before examining in more depth the modern Asian diaspora in Hong Kong, to
Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, the United States,
and Canada. The focus of the initial readings of secondary material is meant to
de-centralize the prevailing understanding of Asian diaspora as people from
Asia leaving for western countries beginning in the mid-19th century.
This dominant focus frames the conceptualization of Asian diaspora within the
worldview of western-centric historiography and is an incomplete reconstruction
of the long history of cultural and political exchanges in this vast region. In
other words, “Asia” did not come alive only when the “West” arrived on the
scene. The secondary readings explain the reasons that people travel and
migrate in the sense that these texts represent the socio-economic and
political circumstances as forces that compel migration. What kind of ‘truth’ is
desired in such historical and ethnographical cartographies over people and

The class will read, in addition, primary texts in terms of the aesthetics
of mimesis in re-producing the social relations of people and space. Social
relations, in Lefebvre’s terms, have a “spatial existence; they project
themselves into a space, becoming inscribed there, and in the process producing
the space itself” (The Production of
129). After a brief exploration of the historical context of Asian
diaspora – within and beyond Asia — the readings will be grouped mainly by
national ‘destinations,’ while we, the class, keep in mind that diasporas may
consist of multiple physical arrivals and returns and departures. Moreover, in
the age of globalized electronic media, diaspora is more accurately thought of
as distribution and not unilateral dispersion. Narratives of these experiences
are represented in various mediums and chronotopes that highlight the
productive volatility and mutability of identity formations. The ways that diaspora
subjectivities and space are produced and inscribed in non-linear and
multi-dimensional routes are explored in readings on fiction, poems, film, art,
theatre, and religious ‘exile’. So, each ‘destination’ group of readings will
contain texts in one or more of the mediums listed here.

Finally, diaspora as a concept is too often confined within the Jewish
diaspora experience and narrative, which has evolved, in the United States
nationalistic discourse of immigration, into a complex of ideas such as
alienation, deracination, culture clash, assimilation and so on. Such concepts
may be useful in understanding Asian diaspora along certain axes of subject
formation. Yet, contemporary diaspora narratives push back against dominant
nationalistic mythologies through various tactics of spatial production and


Group 1:
Kauz, Ralph. Aspects of the maritime Silk Road:from the Persian Gulf to the East China Sea, 2010. (Selection)

Hirabayashi, Lane
Ryo, et al. New worlds, new lives:globalization
and people of Japanese descent in the Americas and from Latin America in Japan
, 2002. (Selection)

Henry Mabley, et al. eds. Asia in the
making of New Zealand
, 2006 (Selection)

— “Imagining the community : newspapers,
cyberspace and the (non-) construction of Korean-New Zealand identity”;

— “From Middle Kingdom to Middle Earth and
back: Chinese media/mediated identities in New Zealand”;

— “Striking accord! Gamelan, education, and
Indonesian cultural flows in Aotearoa/New Zealand”

this selection will be part of a research project on the UH-M, Ethnomusicology
program and the resident Gamelan Ensemble;

Yamashita, Karen
Tei. Circle K Cycles, 2001. (Memoir);

Yamashita, Brazil
Maru, 1993

Ghosh, Amitav. River of Smoke, 2012. (Fiction)

Group 2:

Mary, et al. Communicating ethnic and
cultural identity
, 2004. (Selection)

dimensions of identity — fluidity and complexity of cultural and ethnic

— Approaches to cultural identity:
personal notes from an autoethnographical journey — Grandma’s photo album:
clothing as symbolic representations of identity – Memory, cinema, and the
reconstitution of cultural identities in the Asian
Indian diaspora — Lesbian history and politics of identites.

Group 3:

David Leiwei Li — “Many degrees of
dark and light”: sliding the scale of whiteness with Simone Lazaroo in Louie,
Kam, et al., eds. Culture, identity, commodity: diasporic Chinese literatures in English, 2005.  

Selection from Petty, Adrienne Amelia. Deconstructing
the Chinese sojourner: case studies of early Chinese migrants to
, 2009.

Lazaroo, Simone. The Australian fiancé, 2001. (Fiction)

Nam Le, The Boat, 2008. (Australia. Fiction)

Selection from
Pirbhai, Mariam. Mythologies of
migration, vocabularies of indenture:
of the South Asian diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific,

— “From the Ganges to
the South Seas: Fiji as ‘fatal paradise’ in Satendra Nandan’s The wounded sea

Nandan’s The
Wounded Sea
, 1991. (Fiction)

Group 4:

Lorente, Beatriz
P. Asian migrations:sojourning,
displacement, homecoming and other travels
, 2005

— Claire Lowrie, “Migration-as-transition:
Hong Kong cinema and the ethics of love in Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046”;

Wong Kar Wai’s 2046. (Film).

Group 5:

From Goh, Robbie,
et al. Asian diasporas:cultures, identities, representations, 2004.

— Rebecca Sultana — The shadow of
diasporic (auto)biography : the traveling-self in Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the family

Ondaatje, Michael. Running in the Family, 1993. (Fiction)

Group 6:

Selection from Ma,
Sheng-mei. Diaspora literature and
visual culture:  Asia in flight
, 2010.

Writing Self, Writing Nation. Essays on Theresa Hak-Kyung
Cha’s Dictee.
Eds. Elaine H. Kim
and Norma Alarcon,1994. (Selection)

Ha Jin, A
Good Fall,
2010. (Fiction)

Theresa Cha, Dictee. (Fiction)

Group 7:

from Bekerman, Zvi, et al. Cultural
education– cultural sustainability:
minority, diaspora, indigenous, and
ethno-religious groups in multicultural societies
, 2008.

Hahn, Kimiko. The Narrow Road of the Interior, 2008. (U.S., Poetry);

Group 8:

from Quah, Sy Ren. Gao Xingjian and Transcultural Chinese

Gao Xing Jian, Of mountains and seas: a tragicomedy of
the Gods in three acts
2008. (France. Drama)

Francois. The River Below, 2002. (France.

Group 9:

Selections from
Mehta, Rini Bhattacharya, et al. Bollywood
and globalization:
Indian popular cinema, nation, and diaspora, 2010.


Literary texts / films (Primary tests):


Hahn, Kimiko. The Narrow Road of the Interior (U. S., poetry)

Gao Xing Jian, Of mountains and seas: a tragicomedy of
the Gods in three acts.

Ondaatje, Michael. Running in the Family, 1993. (Fiction)

Francois. The River Below, 2002.
(France. Fiction)

Yamashita, Karen
Tei. Circle K Cycles, 2001. (Memoir);

Yamashita, Brazil Maru, 1993. (Fiction)

Ghosh, Amitav. River of Smoke, 2012. (Fiction)

Ha Jin, A
Free Life
, 2009. (Fiction)

Theresa Cha, Dictee. (Fiction)

Lazaroo, Simone. The Australian fiancé, 2001. (Fiction)

Nam Le, The Boat, 2008. (Australia. Fiction,
short stories)

Nandan’s The
Wounded Sea
, 1991. (Fiji. Fiction)

Wong Kar Wai, 2046 (Film)