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Empire, Extraction, and Untranslatability: Mahua Literature and Southeast Asian Chinese Perspectives

Posted By admin On 10:44 AM In Past Events 2020-21 | Comments Disabled

2020-21 School of Chinese Seminar


Empire, Extraction, and Untranslatability: Mahua Literature and Southeast Asian Chinese Perspectives



Dr. Nicholas Y. H. Wong


The University of Hong Kong



Date日期: May 24, 2021 (Monday)

Time時間: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Venue地點: Room730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus & via Zoom

Language演講語言: English英文

https://hku.zoom.us/j/97429406058?pwd=SDZuUTdncXkyVjlCc1FiYzhuZmdFZz09 [1]

Zoom Meeting ID: 974 2940 6058

Password: 148774


This talk approaches the formation of Mahua (or Chinese-Malayan), and more broadly, Southeast Asian Chinese literary subjectivity as a dance between claims of their “untranslatable singularity” and their multifaceted history of translation projects. So, rather than view Mahua literature as either a local-oriented or a diasporic minor literature written in Chinese in present-day Malaysia, I propose a new framework that views translation and notions of untranslatability as a main theme of Mahua literature’s development from colony to nation. Here, untranslatability is connected to the idea of “native language,” the very thing that Mahua literature has struggled to define, in light of other forms of untranslatability that Mahua literature has to contend with, such as imperial sovereignty over religious meaning, or the totality of horror of certain migrant experiences. Using sources such as novels, short stories, and diaries, and relating them to examples of translation projects by colonial offices intended for governance, I locate Mahua literature’s formation within specific state and market conditions of empire and extraction in Southeast Asia, as well as juridical-religious transformations in Malaya’s multilingual, multicultural society.




Nicholas Y. H. Wong (Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago) is a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on media and modernity in China and Southeast Asia, resource extraction literary politics, Chinese-English translation, transnationalism and diaspora, poetry and poetics. His book project, titled Resource Extraction and Decolonial Literary-Intellectual Chinese Thought from the Malay Peninsula, is a materialist and geoeconomic history of Mahua literature and intellectual culture. His articles and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in CLEAR (Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews), Chapters on Asia, Renditions, and PRISM.​

王學權,美國芝加哥大學比較文學博士。現於香港大學人文榮譽學會(Society of Fellows in the Humanities)擔任博士後研究員,主要研究方向為中國和東南亞的媒體和現代性、資源開採的文學政治、中英翻譯、跨國主義和離散、以及詩歌與詩學。目前正在撰寫專著《馬來半島的資源開採與去殖民化的華文文學與思想》,檢視馬華文學與思想文化的物質與地緣經濟史。 論文和譯作曾在或即將在CLEAR (Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews) 、Chapters on Asia、《譯叢》和PRISM 等期刊或論文集裡發表。

ALL are welcome

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URL to article: http://web.chinese.hku.hk/main/2021/05/04/empire-extraction-and-untranslatability-mahua-literature-and-southeast-asian-chinese-perspectives/

URLs in this post:

[1] https://hku.zoom.us/j/97429406058?pwd=SDZuUTdncXkyVjlCc1FiYzhuZmdFZz09: https://hku.zoom.us/j/97429406058?pwd=SDZuUTdncXkyVjlCc1FiYzhuZmdFZz09

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