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Floating lives : cultural citizenship and the limits of diaspora

journal contribution
posted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by Wenche Ommundsen
Cultural citizenship may, in the simplest terms, be taken to mean a certain 'fit' or compatibility between the cultural attributes of an individual or group and those of the society in which they live. It is a complex concept, taking in rights, responsibilities and competencies as well as the more intangible issues of identity and belonging which have been the subject of intense debates within cultural studies in the last decade. In the case of diasporic or transnational peoples, it is further complicated by the fact of their multiple and unstable cultural and/or civic allegiances (to home and host nations in the first instance, but frequently also to the cultural space of diaspora itself).

This essay examines recent life stories by Chinese Australians: Clara Law's film Floating Life (1996) and two novellas by Liu Guande and Huangfu Jun, published together in English under the title Bitter Peaches and Plums (1995). Focusing on the diversity of experience evoked by notions of cultural belonging, it argues against the prevalent tendency within diaspora studies to engage in a rhetoric of cultural essentialism. The literatures of diaspora deserve to be read as documents of unique and complex cultural experiences rather than mere illustrations of archetypes

History

Journal

Life writing

Volume

1

Issue

2

Pagination

101 - 122

Publisher

Routledge

Location

London, England

ISSN

1448-4528

eISSN

1751-2964

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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