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Seminar: Home Away From Home: Displacement and Cosmopolitanism in the Itinerary of Xiao Hong
Date: 10 April 2013 

SMLC Seminar, School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Home Away From Home: Displacement and Cosmopolitanism in the Itinerary of Xiao Hong

Ms Clara Iwasaki

Date: 10 April 2013
Time: 4:30 - 6:00pm
Venue: CPD2.16, Centennial Campus, HKU

Modern Chinese literature was produced in cities far beyond the national borders of China. Writers traveled to cities around the world—to New York, Tokyo, Singapore, and wrote stories using the Sinitic script. They participated in translating their works into other languages and wrote in new works in a number of other languages as well. Their transnational travel and production of other literatures unsettle the notion that modern Chinese literature is a national literature written in a national language. The Northeastern writer, Xiao Hong’s fiction charts not only her own circulation between minor and major Chinese literary centers such as Harbin, Qingdao, Shanghai and Hong Kong, but also her involvement with members of the Japanese and American left, particularly her friendship with the writers Kaji Wataru, Ikeda Yukiko, and Agnes Smedley. In this paper, I will examine Xiao Hong’s changing attitudes towards displacement and statelessness throughout her writing career. Xiao Hong left Harbin when it became part of Manchukuo. While she was displaced, she was able to “return” to China, a place she had never been before. During as a Northeast writer, living and publishing in Shanghai, she also wrote sympathetically about the Russian and Korean peoples living in Harbin and their plight as stateless peoples. In examining the itinerary of Xiao Hong and her writings, it is possible to see how her travels put her writing in dialogue with the greater internationalist and leftist movements. In order to do so, I will examine Xiao Hong’s non-fiction collection, Market Street, as well as some of her lesser-known short stories, “Sophia’s Sorrow” and “Yali” which focus on Harbin, as well as her last novel Ma Bole and “Remembering Mr. and Mrs. Kaji Wataru,” to examine how her attitudes towards displacement, statelessness and ethnicity change during wartime.

Clara Iwasaki is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA.  She is an American Fulbright Student in Hong Kong for the year 2012-2013.


All are welcome. No registration is required. For enquiries, please contact Dr John Wong at

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