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Loss and Return ― A Review on Chinese “Consciousness of Roots”

  • The Journal of Chinese Cultural Studies
  • 2017, (35), pp.1-40
  • DOI : 10.18212/cccs.2017..35.001
  • Publisher : The Society For Chinese Cultural Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature > Chinese Literature > Chinese Culture
  • Received : January 5, 2017
  • Accepted : February 8, 2017
  • Published : February 28, 2017

sung-hee Jin 1 Eun-Jung Choi 1

1숭실대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper examines, through the cultural texts, the aspects of separation and emigration experienced by the people from the “Three Areas across the Taiwan Strait” as these areas went through a history of severance or separation through modern, post-modern, cold war and post-cold war period. Those who emigrated from these areas experienced a cultural hybridization as they ‘separated themselves’ and ‘were separated’ from their mother lands and came to have a desire to return to it. This aspiration created a consciousness of ‘returning’ to their mother lands, which in turn generated a ‘root mechanism’ that made them recognize where the base of their lives and their cultural mother lands were located. ‘Nostalgia’, which is one of the most representative phenomena of the ‘root mechanism’, not only generates a desire to return to one’s hometown, but also leads to a behavior of imagining about one’s hometown in a special way. The sensibility of separated and emigrated aliens or marginal people, who think that they have lost their roots, are being placed in a space between their hometowns and other areas; and makes many of them constantly long for an emotional bond with their hometowns. However, most people. who are unable to return to their hometowns and who find it difficult to become real members of other communities, are sometimes aware of their “having no roots” and so create distorted memories of their roots. The characters in the works of Yu Guangzhong, Autumnal Lament In Exile of Ann Hui, and The Wedding Banquet of Ang Lee all have an inherently intense nostalgia because they fail to get recognized as full members of any society; but their hometowns exist only in their imagination and are very far from reality. This leads them to a double loss in which they once again grow away from their hometowns.  Loss creates a function of ‘filling again’, Hence, the way of the existence of aliens and marginal people leads to a ‘succession of tradition’. The succession of tradition shown in the above works led to a return to the Chinese culture, which was completed with the Sinocentrism’ and the value of ‘national homogeneity’ taking precedence over anything else. However, it only ironically proves that the more aliens and marginal people emphasize their tradition and the more they assert the ‘Sinocentrism’, the less their existence has to do with their “having roots”

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