Translational Politics in Southeast Asian Literatures : Contesting Race, Gender, and Sexuality book cover
1st Edition

Translational Politics in Southeast Asian Literatures
Contesting Race, Gender, and Sexuality

Edited By

Grace V. S. Chin

ISBN 9780367470234
Published March 16, 2021 by Routledge
212 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Highlighting the interconnections between Southeast Asia and the world through literature, this book calls for a different reading approach to the literatures of Southeast Asia by using translation as the main conceptual framework in the analyses and interpretation of the texts, languages, and cultures of the following countries: Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines.

Through the theme of “translational politics,” the contributors critically examine not only the linguistic properties but also the metaphoric, symbolic, and semiotic meanings, images, and representations that have been translated across societies and cultures through local and global consumption and circulation of literature, (new) media, and other cultural forms. Using translation to unlock and decode multiple, different languages, narratives, histories, and worldviews emerging from Southeast Asian geo-literary contexts, this book builds on current scholarship and offers new approaches to the contestations of race, gender, and sexuality in literature, which often involve the politically charged discourses of identity, language, and representation.

At the same time, this book provides new perspectives and future directions in the study of Southeast Asian literatures. Exploring a range of literary and cultural products, including written texts, performance, and cinema, this volume will be a key resource for students and researchers interested in translation and cultural studies, comparative and world literature, and Southeast Asian studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Grace V.S. Chin

2. Self-Conscious and Queer: Translating the Pasts of Singapore and Malaysia in Lydia Kwa’s This Place Called Absence and Tan Twan Eng’s The Gift of Rain

Angelia Poon

3. Performance and Translation: Hang Li Po and the Politics of History

Grace V.S. Chin

4. Were-Tigers in Were-Texts: Cultural Translation and Indigeneity in the Malay Archipelago

Nazry Bahrawi

5. Translating the Ideal Girl: Female Images in Khmer Literature and Cinema

Daria Okhvat

6. Gained in Translation: The Politics of Localising Western Stories in Late-Colonial Indonesia

Tom Hoogervorst

7. Translating Islam: Conversion and Love in Bruneian Fiction

Kathrina Mohd Daud

8. Cinematic Erasure: Translating Southeast / Asia in Crazy Rich Asians

Kelly Yin Nga Tse

9. Translation and LGBT Studies in the Philippines

J. Neil C. Garcia

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Grace V. S. Chin is Senior Lecturer in English Language Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia. She specialises in postcolonial Southeast Asian literatures in English and has published journal articles and essays on writers and literary works from Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Her publications also include two co-edited volumes: The Southeast Asian Woman Writes Back: Gender, Identity, and Nation in the Literatures of Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines (2018) and Appropriating Kartini: Colonial, National and Transnational Memories of an Indonesian Icon (2020).


This book presents Southeast Asian scholars writing full throttle about Southeast Asian literature and cinema–crossing languages, crossing borders, crossing the boundaries of conventional sexualities and racial politics. Hold on tight. The future of Southeast Asian literary studies has arrived. Harry Aveling, Translation Studies, Monash University

This important collection builds upon the discipline of comparative culture studies in Southeast Asia by exploring contestations of race, gender, and sexuality through the lens of “translational politics.” The objects under view are the region’s nationally based or globally shared filmic and literary texts. This lens also reveals the imbrication of both the contradictions and homogeneity, which late neoliberal globalization has fostered throughout the region, with its seductive mediascapes and commodity culture often disruptive of pre-existing norms. This disruption includes the private and public contestations over definitions and shifting values associated with legalized entitlements attributed to race, gender, and sexuality. It is this disrupted positionality, an experience shared by many South East Asians, that is explored in this noteworthy collection of essays through the lens of translational politics.   Teri Shaffer Yamada, Asian and Asian American Studies, California State University