Writing & World-Making — Writing as Sites of Home for Chinese Diasporic Writers

This project studies the new virtual spaces of contemporary Chinese diasporic writings. It argues that the virtual space of writing becomes a “site” for diasporic subjects to foster a sense of home. Writings that appear in online journals, newspapers, and blogs form a kind of material culture that facilitates worlding in motion, which is to say that immigrants connect to their homelands and lay roots in their adopted lands through literary communities. In their fictional worlds, these writers embrace and challenge deworlding and reworlding simultaneously, with the former suggesting impacts of empire and colonialism, while the latter emphasizes alternative imaginings of the world. This experience is shared by older and younger generations, Sinophone and Anglophone Chinese diasporic writers alike. Contemporary Sinophone diasporic writers like Shi Yu, Chen Qian, and Rong Rong, who have traveled between China and the U.S., have built new writing communities through self-sponsored literary magazines, newspapers, and websites. They have challenged the elitist culture of diasporic writings that have come under criticism by some scholars by shifting the diasporic writing culture from elitism to amateurism, as many of them are not trained as writers but rather write part time. These and other considerations hint at a composition in which there are multi-directional sites of “home” and a globalized form of worlding in motion for these Chinese diasporic writers who are away from home. Focusing on literary writing as a spiritual construct of “home” can help scholars analyze the world-making that individuals experience in the diaspora and re-examine the notions of diaspora and Sinophone literature.