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Open Access Thesis
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
This thesis examines the transformation of “homeland” and “otherness” as well as the relationship between each other in The Lost Daughter of Happiness （扶桑 Fusang). I begin by exploring how the migration of Chinese to the United States is depicted as an endless trajectory in the story through a historical engagement and a dialogue between two generations. From there, I plan to point out that the story complicates the meaning of diaspora as it can not only represent a spatial dislocation, but also a temporal dislocation. Thus, I argue that it destabilizes the conventional ideology which refers “homeland” to a singular location. Contrary to “settle land”, the earlier conceptualization of “homeland” is translated by some scholars into a felicitous space of living for migrants. Reading The Lost Daughter of Happiness, we can find new dimensions and transformations of home. The old conceptualization of “homeland” is reversed not as a singular location, but rather as a process of (be-)coming a felicitous space of living for diasporic subjects: it is not a fixed location anymore.
Next, I explore how the out-of-border movement breeds a process of foreignization According to Kristeva, diasporans who bear foreignness must learn how to “live with the others, to live as others.” I will analyze how Yan Geling invokes the portrayal of a Chinese prostitute as representative of “other” in order to deliver the philosophy of survival of diasporic Chinese females. I argue that it is the marginality of prostitute in a society-as an outsider from the mainstream culture, that builds up Fusang’s transgressive ability to survive. Being a cultural outsider, or “live as others”, according to Kristeva, is “a foreigner’s shield” for one’s cultural identity. As an outsider, Fusang is able to cross over any given borders, simultaneously being inside and outside of the culture. Thus, the story denies any inherited modes of diasporic Chinese prostitutes for the articulation of their identities, which challenges the pure culturalism and nationalism.
Last, the presence of outsider in this story becomes a tool for Yan Geling to deliberately illustrate the cultural difference through her protagonists. I argue that Yan Geling has a straightforward recognition of “otherness” and an explicit awareness of “foreignness” in this story, so she uses some Orientalist gestures to demonstrate the cultural difference. I examine an example about the technology of human disposal mentioned in the plot and analyze how it is used to highlight the cultural difference of diasporic subjects.
My goal is to seek a better understanding of the construction of home identity in The Lost Daughter of Happiness by examining the recognition and representation of culture particularities and difference within the story. Also, I attempt to provide a new interpretation of Fusang by analyzing her identity not only as a prostitute but also as a diasporic Chinese.
David K. Schneider
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Zhou, Qijun, "Reconsidering Diasporic Literature: "Homeland" and "Otherness" in The Lost Daughter of Happiness" (2019). Masters Theses. 866.