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Asia Rising Is an Imperial Fiction: A View from the Indian Ocean

Asia Rising Is an Imperial Fiction: A View from the Indian Ocean Popular rhetoric of the twenty-first century as the “Asian century” frequently coheres around China as a rising global superpower and thus focuses on its financial and material ambitions in sites across Asia and Africa. Such narratives, ensconced within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) formation, re-entrench a problematic Orientalism while pushing further to the margins still the complex, long-standing regional histories. This essay juxtaposes Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy and Kevin Kwan’s Rich trilogy in relation to Indian Ocean histories of trade and exchange. Through world-historical events activated in these novels such as World War II and the first Anglo-Opium War, the essay’s argument follows nineteenth- and twentieth-century transits between the South Asian subcontinent, the Malay Archipelago, and China. Taking circularity as a central analytic, this essay reveals how an elongated temporal frame that accounts from non-European vantages—even in contemporary Anglophone literature—reorients not only what we consider the past and present of Indian Ocean worlds, but also how those pasts bear on the contemporary. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Asia Rising Is an Imperial Fiction: A View from the Indian Ocean

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Copyright
Copyright © 2022 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/00104124-9594878
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Popular rhetoric of the twenty-first century as the “Asian century” frequently coheres around China as a rising global superpower and thus focuses on its financial and material ambitions in sites across Asia and Africa. Such narratives, ensconced within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) formation, re-entrench a problematic Orientalism while pushing further to the margins still the complex, long-standing regional histories. This essay juxtaposes Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy and Kevin Kwan’s Rich trilogy in relation to Indian Ocean histories of trade and exchange. Through world-historical events activated in these novels such as World War II and the first Anglo-Opium War, the essay’s argument follows nineteenth- and twentieth-century transits between the South Asian subcontinent, the Malay Archipelago, and China. Taking circularity as a central analytic, this essay reveals how an elongated temporal frame that accounts from non-European vantages—even in contemporary Anglophone literature—reorients not only what we consider the past and present of Indian Ocean worlds, but also how those pasts bear on the contemporary.

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2022

References