Border as method

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The current state of Chinese literary studies is undergoing a process of re(b)ordering where the nation-state is no longer seen as the only acceptable framing for Chinese literature, and existing identificatory markers of Chinese literature—locality, language, ethnicity—are subject to radical rethinking. This article proposes a paradigm of border as method for Chinese literary studies, following the lead of Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson’s volume by the same title. Border as method refers to a reflexive glance at the cognitive bordering that we as knowledge producers cannot avoid practicing as we set out to define our object of study or outline a polemic or paradigm. It invites questions such as, What sociological facts of compartmentalized space does the study of Chinese literature yield? If we follow the space making capacity of literature, would we take note of other trajectories of connectivity and relationality and produce alternative configurations of literary assemblage? How does the delineated space of Chinese literature engage with the unevenness and differentiation of Asia and the world? This method manifests as a constructionist engagement with Chinese literature and literary history. It also proposes a cultural geography fundamentally different from the conventional center vs. periphery model. In this new mapping, a borderscape defined in terms of a site or locality, a period, or a variety of other ways could become the de facto center that plays a definitive role in shaping the dynamics and critical terms of Chinese literature and culture as a whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-407
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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