Renegotiating Diasporic Identities : the Sinophone Articulations of Liu Yichang

Research output: Other contributionThesis/Dissertation


As a writer who originated from Shanghai and lived in Sinophone communities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, the trajectory of Liu Yichang’s journey and his works presents an interesting case to examine the influences of “place-specific experiences” on the writings of Sinophone writers and the renegotiation of diasporic identities through these works. This thesis evaluates the influences of Liu Yichang’s journey through Shanghai, Malaya and Hong Kong on his fiction during the 1950s to 1960s – a period that witnessed volatile social changes and shifts in the identities of Asian communities – and investigates how these narratives provided an introspective way for Liu Yichang to examine the diasporic condition for himself and his readership in Hong Kong and Malaya. The unique intersection of Liu Yichang’s travelling route, his personal memories and the ways he handled nostalgia in his fiction has resulted in his own distinctive Sinophone articulations; I argue that Liu Yichang’s hybrid narrative styles reflect his negotiation of the multiple cultures in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Malaya, and, more importantly, subvert the homogeneity of “Chinese diaspora” as a category. Nonetheless, these works also demonstrate the consistent struggle between identifying with one’s place of origin and the local host society.

Chapter One outlines the methodological significance of the Sinophone as a research framework that resists the hegemonic notion of “Chinese diaspora”, as well as problematizes the positioning of Liu Yichang as a “Hong Kong” or “China” writer. Chapter Two argues that the inter-textual relationship between Shanghai’s neo-sensationist fiction and Liu Yichang’s Malayan fiction subverts the reified Chinese identity through the construction of new identities and narratives. Chapter Three clarifies that this subversion is not unproblematic; through analysing the female representation strategies in his Malayan fiction, this chapter argues that Liu Yichang’s attempts to address the newly emerging Malayan Sinophone identity were, paradoxically, built on the Malayan Sinophone imagined community’s shared diasporic and gendered past. Chapter Four analyzes the serialized fiction Chaos that was based on Liu Yichang’s travels between the 1940s and 1950s; it elucidates how the protagonist’s travels deconstructs the idea of a static homeland and illustrates the Sinophone’s argument that “routes” can be applied as a concept of “roots” or “home”. Chapter Five concludes that Liu Yichang’s aestheticizing of nostalgia and memories in his writings have the potential to challenge static definitions of diasporic communities or physical homelands; this renegotiation of diasporic identities exemplifies the translational nature of Sinophone articulations.
Original languageEnglish
TypeMPhil Thesis
PublisherThe Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Number of pages161
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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