Interdisciplinary Lunchtime Seminar

Ritual Time, Secular Democracy: On Literary Depictions of Chinese and Indian Popular Religions in Malaysia

2020-12-01 12:00:002020-12-01 13:00:00Asia/Hong_KongRitual Time, Secular Democracy: On Literary Depictions of Chinese and Indian Popular Religions in Malaysia

Interdisciplinary Lunchtime Seminar
Ritual Time, Secular Democracy: On Literary Depictions of Chinese and Indian Popular Religions in Malaysia

Dr. Nicholas Y. H. Wong
(Society of Fellows in the Humanities, The University of Hong Kong)

Date/Time: December 1, 12:00 nn – 1:00 pm (HK time)
Venue: Conducted via Zoom
Enquiry: ihss@hku.hk

    2020-12-01 12:00:002020-12-01 13:00:00Asia/Hong_KongRitual Time, Secular Democracy: On Literary Depictions of Chinese and Indian Popular Religions in Malaysia

    Interdisciplinary Lunchtime Seminar
    Ritual Time, Secular Democracy: On Literary Depictions of Chinese and Indian Popular Religions in Malaysia

    Dr. Nicholas Y. H. Wong
    (Society of Fellows in the Humanities, The University of Hong Kong)

    Date/Time: December 1, 12:00 nn – 1:00 pm (HK time)
    Venue: Conducted via Zoom
    Enquiry: ihss@hku.hk

      Overview

      Title:

      Ritual Time, Secular Democracy: On Literary Depictions of Chinese and Indian Popular Religions in Malaysia

      Speaker:

      Dr. Nicholas Y. H. Wong (Society of Fellows in the Humanities, The University of Hong Kong)

      Date/Time:

      December 1, 2020, 12:00 nn – 1:00 pm (HK time)

      Language:

      English

      Enquiry:

      (Email) ihss@hku.hk

      Title:

      Ritual Time, Secular Democracy: On Literary Depictions of Chinese and Indian Popular Religions in Malaysia

      Speaker:

      Dr. Nicholas Y. H. Wong (Society of Fellows in the Humanities, The University of Hong Kong)

      Date/Time:

      December 1, 2020, 12:00 nn – 1:00 pm (HK time)

      Language:

      English

      Enquiry:

      (Email) ihss@hku.hk

      Abstract

      Though inadequate, popular religion has been an outsourced space for democratic participation. In Malaysia, the street procession’s carnivalesque inversion of order allows ethnic groups to mingle and participate in each other’s rituals beyond the state’s Malay-Muslim ethnocracy. In this talk, I discuss Mahua (or Chinese-Malaysian) descriptions of spectatorship and spirit mediumship in religious processions, such as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival (Taoist) and Thaipusam (Hindu). What aspects are highlighted and to what ends? What ritual aspects evolved from the intertwined histories of Chinese and Indian migrant communities that worked at tin mines and rubber plantations? I argue that Mahua authors, in their secular literary texts, piously channel a pantheon of gods to propose their versions of dharma (law) and reciprocity in the context of modern democracy or, as Étienne Balibar calls it, the “constitution of citizenship.” How Mahua writers connect and separate the theological, the cultural, the ethical, and the political suggests alternative understandings of transcendence and redemption in religion and literature.

      About the Speaker

      Dr. Nicholas Y. H. Wong holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong, he will deepen his study of global networks of commodities and industries as they transact the writing of literary history. His current book project examines the impact of tin and rubber on the Malay Peninsula and the aesthetic forms of minority relations and differences they generate in Chinese-language writing. In short, he is writing a materialist and geoeconomic history of Mahua literature and intellectual culture.

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