Advertisement

The Self as Hybrid Contestation: Three Autobiographical Stories from Singapore and Malaysia

  • Kwok-kan Tam
Chapter

Abstract

In his essay “Autobiography and the Cultural Moment: A Thematic, Historical, and Bibliographical Introduction,” James Olney (1980) suggests approaching autobiography from two perspectives: the autos and the bios. He believes that when the bios is taken as the focus and the autos only a narrating agent, the “I” stays behind the scenes mainly as a story teller. When the position is shifted so the story teller is the focus, the perspective will be changed, the story teller as the “me” that is being shaped by the story told. However, I would argue that it is impossible to separate the autos from the bios in autobiographical writings because both the “I” and the “me” are constitutive aspects of the self. If story telling is a performative act, the “I” who tells the story is performing the “me” who is the object of inquiry. Autobiography is telling stories of the self by the self, in which the self is self-creating. The self in autobiographical writings is a speaking subject, “I,” as well as a constructed object “me,” forming a complex array of dialogical subject-object/self-other identities constituted by language, culture, ethnicity, and place.

References

  1. Anderson, Benedict. 1995. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised and extended. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Appadurai, Arjun. 1988. “How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 30, no. 1: 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Austin, J. L. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhaǐlovich. 1976. “Discourse in Life and Discourse in Art (Concerning Sociological Poetics.” In Valentin Voloshinov, 93–116. Freudianism: A Marxist Critique, Translated by I. R. Titunik. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, Judith. 1997. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Chua Beng Huat, and Ananda Rajah. 2001. “Hybridity, Ethnicity and Food in Singapore.” In Changing Chinese Foodways in Asia, edited by David Y. H. Wu and Tan Chee-Beng, 161–97. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Derrida, Jacques. 1988. Limited Inc. Edited by Gerald Graff. Translated by Samuel Weber and Jeffrey Mehlman. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Freud, Sigmund. 1995. “Civilization and Its Discontents.” 1930. In The Freud Reader, edited by Peter Gay, 722–72. London: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  11. Freud, Sigmund. 1998. “The Uncanny.” 1919. In Art and Literature (The Pelican Freud Library, Vol. 14), edited by Albert Dickson, 335–76. Translated by James Strachey. London: Pelican.Google Scholar
  12. Kee Thuan Chye. 2002. “A Sense of Home.” In The Merlion and the Hibiscus: Contemporary Short Stories from Singapore and Malaysia, edited by Mukherjee Dipika, Kirpal Singh, and M.A. Quayum, 100–104. New Delhi: Penguin.Google Scholar
  13. Loh, Mary Chieu Kwan. 1998. “Rice.” In More Than Half the Sky: Creative Writings by Thirty Singaporean Women, edited by Leong Liew Geok, 190–96. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur: Times Books International.Google Scholar
  14. Martin, Wallace. 1991. Recent Theories of Narrative. Second printing. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. 1999. “Minutes of Glory.” In Literatures of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, edited by Willis Barnstone and Tony Barnstone, 1444–45. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  16. Olney, James. 1980. “Autobiography and the Cultural Moment: A Thematic, Historical, and Bibliographical Introduction.” In Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical, edited by James Olney, 3–27. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Roberts, Glenn, and Jeremy Holmes, eds. 1999. Healing Stories: Narrative in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Schrag, Calvin O. 1997. The Self after Postmodernity. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Searle, John R. 1969. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. London: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Singh, Kirpal. 1995. “Monologue.” In The Fiction of Singapore: Anthology of ASEAN Literatures, Vol. 3, edited by Edwin Thumboo et al., 545–51. Singapore: The ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information.Google Scholar
  21. Young, Robert J. C. 1995. Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kwok-kan Tam
    • 1
  1. 1.The Hang Seng University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

Personalised recommendations