Irmy Schweiger

Irmy Schweiger

Professor, Chinese Literature

Stockholm University


Irmy Schweiger is professor of Chinese Literature and Culture at the Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies, Stockholm University. Her research interests are situated in the realm of modern and contemporary sinophone literature, including historical trauma and cultural memory, literature as counter narrative to official discourse, cultures in contact.

Carry the Burden of the Past, Capture the Present and Bear a Promise to the Future? - Vernacular and Cosmopolitan Memories in Sinophonic Literatures

By tracing vernacular and cosmopolitan tendencies in the making of ”Chinese literature” I am exploring the literary field as a contested site of struggle between global and local commitments, thereby creating continuously changing notions of identity confined with nation-state and community. In the first part of the project I re-visit significant literary and cultural debates, identify meta-literary articulations of literary and cultural identity and explore modern and contemporary literary trends and concepts in order to identify the existence and interconnectedness of vernacular and cosmopolitan dynamics. The second part will analyze narrations of the Sinophone with respect to traumatic pasts, following the notion of “cosmopolitan memory” (Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider) as a different kind of memory, “a memory transcending ethnic and national boundaries” (Levy and Sznaider).

What Ulrich Beck has called “internal globalization” assumes that global concerns at the same time become part of local experiences. If we conceive of these vernacularisms as directionality (Michael Rothberg) thereby including “the local”, “indigenous”, “authentic” appropriated by cosmopolitan directionality – established by literary and filmic traditions, market forces, translational exchanges, media technologies – than it can be argued that in the Sinophone context different vernacular and cosmopolitan memories are contesting, intermingling and complementing each other. One of the main tasks of this project is to identify aesthetic and discursive practices within the Sinophone context, that are dealing with past atrocities and to ask what these transnational memories consist of. My main hypothesis is that narratives dealing with difficult and complex collective pasts in order to capture the present and to bear a promise for the future currently constitute the paradigmatic genre of world literature and global culture.

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