Abstract

This article examines three Sinophone cultural texts to suggest that Sinophone studies can draw from its affinities with historical and linguistic studies to question the conceptual boundary of “premodern” imperial China. Through case studies of Hou Hsiao-hsien from Taiwan and Saisai (Xi Xi) and Wong Bik-wan from Hong Kong, the article proposes “deep imperial time” as a Sinophone historical poetics and cultural strategy of deimperialization. Artists turn their Sinophone sensibilities into a historiographical method that intervenes in nation-centric history and performs a capacious form of localization. Marginality from the normative nation-state and interimperial positionality compel them to enact decentered visions of historical Chineseness and imagine anti-imperial solidarities with the margins of different imperial formations across history. The article concludes that Sinophone studies can contribute to the conceptual enlargement of decoloniality by incorporating subaltern experiences in contesting non-Western empires.

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