Queering Chineseness: Searching for Roots and the Politics of Shame in (Post)Colonial Singapore

in Cosmopatriots
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Abstract

This chapter studies the rhetoric of roots-searching [xungen] and the politics of shame in (post)colonial Singapore. Via a study on the roots-searching school of literature in post-Mao China, and drawing upon the synonym of the Chinese word gen with the male genital, it argues that the project of constructing Chinese identity in Singapore is premised on the anxiety of castration, and shows that the shame/pride dyad opens up a queer reading on the notion of Chineseness in Singapore. By queering gen as a non-reproductive organ, and by decoupling ethnic identity and language acquisition, it calls for new ways of conceptualizing and negotiating Chinese identities in postcolonial Singapore.

Cosmopatriots

On Distant Belongings and Close Encounters

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