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By SHIH Shu-mei
Sun Yat-sen Journal of Humanities

This essay is a modest proposal for relational comparison. It argues for comparison as relation, or doing comparative literature as relational studies. To set up the relational framework, I first draw insights from the integrative world history detailed by such scholars as Janet L. Abu-Lughod, John M. Hobson, and André Gunder Frank. I synthesize these findings with the theory of Relation developed by Édouard Glissant as a way to link geocultural and socioeconomic history not only to literature but also to poetics. The specific pivot traces what I call the “plantation arc,” stretching from the Caribbean to the American South and to Southeast Asia. I examine the interconnectedness of the literary works along the post-slavery plantation arc such as the plantation novels of William Faulkner set in the American South, Chang Kuei-hsing’s Monkey Cup set in the Borneo rainforest and the Caribbean of Patricia Powell, the Jamaica of post-abolition blacks, white coolie traders, Chinese coolies, and shopkeepers. The purpose here is two fold: first, to illustrate how doing relational studies with a keen world historical sense demands that world literature take its worldliness more seriously than thought possible; and second, to show how relational comparison opens up a new arena, perhaps even a new life, for comparative literature.

Turning the Test Beds: Performance Art and Genetic Engineering

FIAR: Forum for Inter-American Research

This paper investigates the work of the American performance collective Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) who critically engage questions concerning the genetic market economy, new communication technologies and biotechnology.

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