Cookies Policy
Cookie Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

“You Can Never Go Home Again”: Cultural Memory and Identity Formation in the Writing of Southeast Asian Chinese

MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.

Buy this article

$30.00+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites

image of Journal of Chinese Overseas

The persistence of memory as a trope in works by Chinese writers in Southeast Asia demonstrates that the sense of identity among Chinese in this area is constantly being interrogated and re-negotiated. This article argues that literary texts are one important constituent factor of collective cultural memory, a purposeful activity undertaken to influence social reality. Even as they foreground the issue of an individual's memory of Chinese culture, they are themselves a type of memorializing practice which seeks to preserve certain types of cultural memory and thus shape the individual's identity. In comparing the works of Singaporean and Malaysian writers, I find a rather stark contrast between the figures used to conceptualize China, Chinese culture, and memory. I argue that Singaporean writers use certain figures to reify Chinese culture and determine its unchanging essence, whereas Malaysian Chinese often have a more fluid view of culture. I then consider some of the ramifications for the use of natural metaphors by the Malaysian writers, which I see as participating in a type of wishful colonial mentality, quite distinct from the historical reality of indentured labor and political disempowerment of the ethnic Chinese in the modern nation state of Malaysia. I conclude by proposing the use of “trunk” as a metaphor for cultural memory and identity formation.


Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Create email alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of Chinese Overseas — Recommend this title to your library

    Thank you

    Your recommendation has been sent to your librarian.

  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation