Eurasian extinction: miscegenation and the question of the native in Macau literature
- Wednesday 19 February 2020
- China Seminar
- Van Wijkplaats 4
2311 BX Leiden
For the multiethnic city of Macau, the era of political transition from Portuguese to Chinese rule (1987-1999) placed renewed importance on definitions of belonging and nativity. In my talk, I argue that a narrative of Eurasian extinction has been a crucial mode in which to articulate Sinitic belonging in the literary space of pre-postcolonial Macau. Tracing the figure of the Macanese Eurasian protagonist in the work of Sinophone authors Li Guanding 李觀鼎 and Liao Zixin 廖子馨, I read these narratives as being characterized by the troubled presence of the non-procreative mestiço whose lack of progeny threatens to condemn the entire Eurasian community to extinction. The looming theme of racial demise, through the disappearance of the city’s most native of natives, the local-born Macanese (土生), also imperils other native claims. Thus, a preoccupation with Eurasian extinction is not to be understood as a lament over the city’s lost colonial era but, I argue, should be read as an anxious reflection on the difficulties of Sinitic native access in a city soon to be subsumed by a hegemonizing and homogenizing Chinese nation.
Rosa Vieira de Almeida teaches in BA International Studies at Leiden University. She completed her PhD in Chinese Literature (Yale, 2018) with a thesis on Macau literature during the period of decolonization. She is interested in the themes of diaspora, (post)colonialism, and literary marginality. Her most recent publication, on the concept of ‘insignificance’ in the poetry of Macau author Yiling 懿靈, will be published by Routledge in the volume Imagined Communities: Reading China against the Grain (2020, edited by Carlos Rojas and Mei-hwa Sung).