Questioning Borders: Ecoliteratures of China and Taiwan | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Monographs

Questioning Borders: Ecoliteratures of China and Taiwan

By Robin Visser (NHC Fellow, 2017–18)

Book cover of Robin Visser's Questioning Borders

New York: Columbia University Press, 2023

From the publisher’s description:

Indigenous knowledge of local ecosystems often challenges settler-colonial cosmologies that naturalize resource extraction and the relocation of nomadic, hunting, foraging, or fishing peoples. Questioning Borders explores recent ecoliterature by Han and non-Han Indigenous writers of China and Taiwan, analyzing relations among humans, animals, ecosystems, and the cosmos in search of alternative possibilities for creativity and consciousness.

Informed by extensive field research, Robin Visser compares literary works by Bai, Bunun, Kazakh, Mongol, Tao, Tibetan, Uyghur, Wa, Yi, and Han Chinese writers set in Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Southwest China, and Taiwan, sites of extensive development, migration, and climate change impacts. Visser contrasts the dominant Han Chinese cosmology of center and periphery that informs what she calls “Beijing Westerns” with Indigenous and hybridized ways of relating to the world that challenge borders, binaries, and hierarchies.

By centering Indigenous cosmologies, this book aims to decolonize approaches to ecocriticism, comparative literature, and Chinese and Sinophone studies as well as to inspire new modes of sustainable flourishing in the Anthropocene.

Anthropology / Literature / Ecocriticism / Ecology / East Asian Studies / Comparative Literature / Indigenous Peoples of China / Taiwanese Indigenous Peoples / China / Taiwan /

Visser, Robin (NHC Fellow, 2017–18). Questioning Borders: Ecoliteratures of China and Taiwan. Global Chinese Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2023.