Since classical literature, going through the manifold depictions of the woman in the 20 th century, until the more recent ‘body writing’, body and sexuality have been part of Chinese literature. Still haunted by cultural taboos, sometimes instruments to profess individuality, and not rarely tools in the service of the publishing industry, they have nevertheless become signs and devices to provide unexplored visions of subjectivity and modernity. On this trail, literature written by rural–urban migrant workers, especially women, after the 1980s and 1990s, has offered a new literary platform, new ideas and new suggestions for representing a female body socially, politically and subjectively marked: the migrant. This paper’s aim, through a close reading of the novel Bei mei (Northern Girls) by Sheng Keyi (2004), taken as a recent case of literary representation of the subaltern and sans-papier migrant woman, is to analyze the symbolic and metaphoric functions assigned to the body throughout the narration. In particular, the migrant body may be seen as a manifestation of social inequality in the (female) migrant’s urban experience, especially in it embodying mercified labor-force (including sexual labor), being the ‘document’ for its holder to enter urban society, sometimes removed from the urban space through expulsion or murder. Furthermore, I argue that the novel suggests the possibility for Chinese working migrant women to express their agency through their body the ‘rape’ by the hegemonic discourse and practice.

Fragile and Powerful: Chinese Migrant Women, Body and Violence in Sheng Keyi's Bei Mei

Picerni, Federico
2019

Abstract

Since classical literature, going through the manifold depictions of the woman in the 20 th century, until the more recent ‘body writing’, body and sexuality have been part of Chinese literature. Still haunted by cultural taboos, sometimes instruments to profess individuality, and not rarely tools in the service of the publishing industry, they have nevertheless become signs and devices to provide unexplored visions of subjectivity and modernity. On this trail, literature written by rural–urban migrant workers, especially women, after the 1980s and 1990s, has offered a new literary platform, new ideas and new suggestions for representing a female body socially, politically and subjectively marked: the migrant. This paper’s aim, through a close reading of the novel Bei mei (Northern Girls) by Sheng Keyi (2004), taken as a recent case of literary representation of the subaltern and sans-papier migrant woman, is to analyze the symbolic and metaphoric functions assigned to the body throughout the narration. In particular, the migrant body may be seen as a manifestation of social inequality in the (female) migrant’s urban experience, especially in it embodying mercified labor-force (including sexual labor), being the ‘document’ for its holder to enter urban society, sometimes removed from the urban space through expulsion or murder. Furthermore, I argue that the novel suggests the possibility for Chinese working migrant women to express their agency through their body the ‘rape’ by the hegemonic discourse and practice.
Viajes y escrituras: Cartografías de la violencia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3713805
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