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

  • Kwok-kan Tam


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.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

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

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