Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-mrcq8 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-26T18:51:31.898Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The Concept of the Sinophone

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


The spectacular rise of China as a superpower perhaps only now compels us to recalibrate existing discourses of empire and postcoloniality, but China has been an empire in the modern sense since the mid–eighteenth century, when it conquered vast lands north and west of “China proper.” This history has been largely hidden from view because of two unacknowledged obsessions: the fetishization of Western empires over other empires and the prevailing discourse of Chinese victimhood at the hands of Western empires. The rise of China would not have caught so many by surprise if our vision had not been persistently clouded by our privileging of the oceanic (i.e., Western) mode of colonial expansion, which paradoxically centered the West as the most deserving object of critical attention and intellectual labor. It also would not have been a surprise if we had looked back at the Manchu conquests of inner Asia, which present-day China largely inherited and consolidated in a continuous colonial project. Postcolonial theory as we know it, particularly its critiques of orientalism, may prove irrelevant or even complicit when we consider how the positions of Chinese intellectuals critical of Western imperialism and orientalism easily slip into an unreflective nationalism, whose flip side may be a new imperialism.

The Changing Profession
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Works Cited

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1991. Print.Google Scholar
Ang, Ien. On Not Speaking Chinese: Living between Asia and the West. London: Routledge, 2001. Print.Google ScholarPubMed
Balibar, Étienne. “The Nation Form: History and Ideology”. Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities. By Balibar and Emmanuel Wallerstein. New York: Verso, 1991. 86–106. Print.Google Scholar
China: The Rebirth of an Empire. Dir. Jesse Veverka and Jeremy Veverka. Veverka, 2010. Film.Google Scholar
Chow, Rey. Ethics after Idealism: Theory-Culture-Ethnicity-Reading. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1998. Print.Google Scholar
Chow, Rey. “On Chineseness as a Theoretical Problem.” Introduction. Boundary 2 25.3 (1998): 124. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chun, Allen. “Fuck Chineseness: On the Ambiguities of Ethnicity as Culture as Identity”. Boundary 2 23.2 (1996): 111–38. Print.Google Scholar
Crossley, Pamela Kyle. A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology. Berkeley: U of California P, 1999. Print.Google Scholar
Hegel, G. W. H. Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. Trans. Nisbet, H. B. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980. Print.Google Scholar
Hegel, G. W. H. The Philosophy of Right. Trans. Knox, T. M. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1967. Print.Google Scholar
Levathes, Louis. When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405–1433. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.Google Scholar
Lionnet, Françoise, and Shih, Shu-mei. “Thinking through the Minor, Transnationally.” Introduction. Minor Transnationalism. Ed. Lionnet, and Shih, . Durham: Duke UP, 2005. 1–23. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lipman, Jonathan. Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1997. Print.Google Scholar
Maconi, Lara. “Lion of the Snowy Mountains: The Tibetan Poet Yidan Cairang and His Chinese Poetry: Re-constructing Tibetan National Identity in Chinese.” Tibet, Self, and the Tibetan Diaspora: Voices of Difference. Ed. Klieger, Christiaan. Leiden: Brill, 2002. 165–93. Print.Google Scholar
Mair, Victor. “What Is a Chinese ‘Dialect/Topolet‘? Reflections on Some Key Sino-English Linguistic Terms”. Sino-Platonic Papers 29 (1991): 131. Print.Google Scholar
Perdue, Peter D. China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. Cambridge: Belknap–Harvard UP, 2005. Print.Google Scholar
Pomeranz, Kenneth, and Topik, Steven. The World That Trade Created: Society, Culture, and the World Economy, 1400 to the Present. 2nd ed. New York: Sharpe, 2005. Print.Google Scholar
Rawski, Evelyn. The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions. Berkeley: U of California P, 1998. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sartre, Jean-Paul. “What Is Literature?”. Trans. Bernard Frechtman. “What Is Literature?” and OtherEssays. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1988. 21–245. Print.Google Scholar
Schiaffini-Vedani, Patricia. “The Language Divide: Identity and Literary Choices in Modern Tibet”. Journal of International Affairs 57.2 (2004): 8198. Print.Google Scholar
Shih, Shu-mei. “Against Diaspora: Sinophone as Places of Cultural Production.” Tsu and Wang 2948.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shih, Shu-mei. “Theory, Asia, and the Sinophone”. Postcolonial Studies 13.4 (2010): 465–84. Print.Google Scholar
Shih, Shu-mei. Visuality and Identity: Sinophone Articulations across the Pacific. Berkeley: U of California P, 2007. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
So, Billy K. L. Prosperity, Region, and Institutions in Maritime China: The South Fukien Pattern, 946–1368. Boston: Harvard U Asia Center, 2000. Print.Google Scholar
Tee, Kim Tong. “(Re)Mapping Sinophone Literature.” Tsu and Wang 7791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tsu, Jing. Sound and Script in Chinese Diaspora. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
Tsu, Jing, and Wang, David Der-wei, eds. Global Chinese Literature: Critical Essays. Leiden: Brill, 2010. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Waley-Cohen, Joanna. “The New Qing History”. Radical History Review 88 (2004): 193206. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, David Der-wei. 文學行旅與世界想像 [Literary Traveling and Global Imagination]. 聯合報 8–9 July 2006, lit. supp.: E7. Print.Google Scholar
Wang, Ling-chi. “The Structure of Dual Domination: Toward a Paradigm for the Study of the Chinese Diaspora in the United States”. Amerasia Journal 12.1–2 (1995): 149–69. Print.Google Scholar
Gungwu, Wang. “Chineseness: The Dilemmas of Place and Practice.” Cosmopolitan Capitalists: Hong Kong and the Chinese Diaspora at the End of the Twentieth Century. Ed. Hamilton, Gary. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1999. 118–34. Print.Google Scholar
Gungwu, Wang and Ng, Chin-Keong, eds. Maritime China in Transition, 1750–1850. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2004. Print.Google Scholar
Wong, Sau-ling. “Denationalization Reconsidered: Asian American Cultural Criticism at a Theoretical Crossroads”. Amerasia Journal 21.1–2 (1995): 127. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wong, Sau-ling. “The Yellow and the Black: The African American Presence in Sinophone Chinese American Literature,” Chung Wai Literary Monthly Sept. 2005:1554. Print.Google Scholar