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  • MEAL 1

Beijing Westerns and Indigenous Opacity in Ecoliterature of Southwest China

Speaker: Robin Visser

Professor and Associate Chair | Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Moderator: Winnie Yee

MALCS Programme Coordinator | Comparative Literature | The University of Hong Kong

DATE: 5 APR 2024 (FRI) 9:00 am–10:30 am



Indigenous knowledge of local ecosystems often challenges cosmologies that naturalize resource extraction and the relocation of nomadic, hunting, foraging, or fishing peoples. I present findings from my book, “Questioning Borders” (Columbia UP, 2023), which analyzes relations among humans, animals, ecosystems, and the cosmos in literatures of China and Taiwan. Comparing “root-seeking” novels by Beijing writers with literature by Wa and Nuosu Yi Indigenes, I argue that Beijing westerns express Hanspace cosmologies while Indigenous accounts domesticate exoticism and manifest opacity, centering the border as a place of home, heritage, and everyday humanity, though under great duress from climate change.

Robin Visser is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her book, “Questioning Borders: Ecoliteratures of China and Taiwan” (Columbia University Press, 2023), compares contemporary literature on the environment by Han Chinese and non-Han ethnic minority writers. Her book “Cities Surround the Countryside: Urban Aesthetics in Postsocialist China” (Duke University Press, 2010), translated into Russian (Academic Studies Press, 2022), analyzes Chinese urban planning, fiction, cinema, art, architecture, and intellectual debates at the turn of the 21st century.



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