Historical Chinese settler colonialism: S. M. Leung, ‘Chinese Settler Colonialism and the Borderless National Imagination in Late Qing Utopian Fiction: A Case Study of Lü Sheng’s A Madman’s Dream’, Asian Studies Review, 2023

AuthorsLeung, SM
Issue Date2023
Publishertaylor and francis. The Journal’s web site is located at http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/10357823.asp

Abstract: Studies on Chinese nationalist discourse in the late Qing era rarely consider the role of settler- colonialism in the development of nationalism, instead assuming that anti-colonialism was the dominant ideological source. This article transcends the traditional binary discourse of the colonised and the coloniser by exploring how settler-colonialism helped to project a borderless China in late Qing utopian fiction. I argue that this body of literature, as exemplified by Lü Sheng’s A Madman’s Dream, is a useful lens for exploring how Chinese settler-colonialism developed a (trans)national imagination. China, as a non-Western settler-colonist, had a dual identity: its experience of being colonised by the West resulted in its acting as a settler-colonist, while its efforts to promote a ‘new China’ overseas were intended to create solidarity with others who had suffered from colonisation. This article thus contributes to the growing body of scholarship about Qing expansionism as an instance of colonialism by demonstrating the internal tensions within Chinese discourse on colonialism in that era. I illustrate that Chinese settler-colonialism displayed a unique blend of discourse about expansion in the past, the experience of suffering in the present, and imagining the future.

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