Commenced in January 2007
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The Prostitute’s Body in Diasporic Space: Sexualized China and Chineseness in Yu Dafu’s Sinking and Yan Geling’s The Lost Daughter of Happiness

Authors: Haizhi Wu

Abstract:

Sexualization brings together the interdependent experiences of prostitution and diaspora, establishing a masculine structure where a female’s body mediates the hegemony and sexuality of men from different races. Between eroticism and homesickness, writers of the Chinese diaspora develop sensual approaches to reflect on the diasporic experience and sexual frustration. Noticeably, Yu Dafu in Sinking and Yan Geling in The Lost Daughter of Happiness both take an interest in sexual encounters between an immature teen client and an erotically powerful prostitute in Japan or America, both countries considered colonizers in Chinese history. Both are utilizing the metaphor of body-space interplay to hint at the out-of-text transnational interactions, two writers, however, present distinct understandings of their bond with history and memory of the semi-colonial, semi-feudal China. Examining prostitutes’ bodies in multi-layer diasporic spaces, the central analysis of this essay works on the sexual, colonial, and historical representations of this bodily symbol and the prostitution’s engagement in negotiating with diaspora and “Chineseness”.

Keywords: Chineseness, diasporic spaces, prostitutes’ bodies, sexualization

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