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"Mo No Boy": The Negative Rhetoric of Nation in the Work of Wayson Choy

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Published in West Coast Line. 2008, vol. 42, no. 3, p. 100-11
Abstract This essay explores the relationship between an essentialist diasporic paradigm, which draws on an understanding of singular national allegiance and ethnic "blood" identity, and a hybrid transnational paradigm of identity that refuses singular allegiances and essentialist myths of blood kinship. The dynamics of these rhetorical forms reveals the profound difficulty of multiculturalism in a nationalistic culture. In literary narratives, as in public discourse, the assumption that one citizen can be "less Canadian" than another by reason of ethnicity must be challenged wherever this rhetoric appears. The "neither/nor" logic of popular texts like Wayson Choy's novels The Jade Peony (1995) and All That Matters (2004), as well as his memoir, Paper Shadows (1999) articulates "China" as a mythical point of origin that is in fact specifically Cantonese and of the Qing dynasty and of the mid-nineteenth century. But the elevation of historical and cultural particulars into a generalized imagined origin is less important than the texts' emphasis on "real" and essential links between a diasporic "Chineseness-that-transcends-culture" and a world of migrant rootlessness and displacement. The neither/nor logic of these texts compels a critical appraisal of the principles underlying the developing Chinese diasporic literary canon, in Canada and elsewhere, and the larger understandings of the dynamics of transnational migrant communities to which these literary representations lend legitimacy.
Keywords Chinese Canadian LiteratureAsian American LiteratureDiasporaMigrationCitizenshipNationalismSocial exclusionRhetorical languageCanonicityWayson Choy
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MADSEN, Deborah Lea. "Mo No Boy": The Negative Rhetoric of Nation in the Work of Wayson Choy. In: West Coast Line, 2008, vol. 42, n° 3, p. 100-11. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:87864

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Deposited on : 2016-09-30

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