Travelling with Chinese Theatre Troupes in Southeast Asia: Mobility, Locality and Performativity of Chineseness – Australian Society for Asian Humanities Travelling with Chinese Theatre Troupes in Southeast Asia: Mobility, Locality and Performativity of Chineseness - Australian Society for Asian Humanities

Travelling with Chinese Theatre Troupes in Southeast Asia: Mobility, Locality and Performativity of Chineseness

Travelling with Chinese Theatre Troupes in Southeast Asia: Mobility, Locality and Performativity of Chineseness

This event is co-presented with The Department of Chinese Studies, The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, The Australian Society for Asian Humanities and the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture at UNSW.

Throughout the twentieth century, Chinese theatre troupes left impressive cultural legacies in the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia. The maritime and overland connections that had long been utilised by overseas Chinese merchants, immigrants, and diplomats laid a template for theatre troupes to draft travelling itineraries across the South China Seas. Specifically speaking, I focus on the Chaozhou theatre troupes, China’s Song and Dance Troupe, the salvation theatre troupe, the socialist troupes, and opera films as well as the Hong Kong Movie Star Arts Troupe that were set in different time-space constructions through which homeland-diaspora connections were evoked for a variety of purposes. Travelling with these different sets of theatre troupes, this talk will lead audiences to see how ideas and cultural discourses were circulated transnationally, how they heralded changes from China and mobilized overseas Chinese to make contributions to their mother country. Furthermore, the cultural discourses and ideologies they carried along with their performances had to be constantly modified and adjusted when encountering different diasporic Chinese communities and their surrounding socio-political environment. Local conditions, such as the colonial governance, local reception and the Cold War geopolitics, all greatly impacted the ways in which performances were circulated and staged. These varied experiences of travelling and touring enable me to unpack complex layers of performativity of Chineseness that were determined by changing time-space constructions. They have gone into the collective memory of diasporic Chinese about a past that haunts the present in-between status, of being neither here nor there, between the adopted homeland and the imagined ancestral motherland. Therefore, highlighting various “performative” linkages, this talk calls for new ways to understand changing patterns of homeland-diaspora interactions.

About the speaker

Beiyu Zhang is now affiliated with the School of International Studies/Academy of Overseas Chinese Studies at Jinan University, Guangzhou. She obtained her PhD degree in the History Department from the National University of Singapore. She worked as a Post-Doctoral Fellow funded by the Macau Talent Program in the University of Macau from 2018-2020. Her recent publications include “Travelling with Chinese Theatre-Troupes: A ‘Performative Turn’ in Sino-Southeast Asian Interactions”, Asian Theatre Journal (2021), and a monograph Chinese Theatre Troupes in Southeast Asia: Touring Diaspora, 1900s–1970s, Routledge, 2021. Her upcoming publications include “Cantonese Opera Troupes in Southeast Asia: Political Mobilizations, Diaspora Networks, and Operatic Circulation, 1850s-1930s” in Asian Ethnology (2022), “Multicultural Dance-Making in Singapore: Merdeka, Youth Solidarity and Cross-Ethnicity, 1955-1980s”, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (2022). Her research interests include Chinese diaspora, Sino-Southeast Asian interactions, cultural Cold War, and ethnomusicology in Asia. She is currently working on a new project titled “Heritage Diplomacy in China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Asia”.

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Date

Nov 19 2021

Time

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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