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The Sinicized Posthuman Future: Reimagining Cyberpunk and the Cyborg in Chen Qiufan's Waste Tide



Chen Qiufan comes from a new generation of Chinese science fiction (SF) writers who use a style of SF realism to interrogate problems in Chinese society. In 2013, his novel Waste Tide (2013) won a Chinese Nebula Award. The novel depicts a dystopian posthuman China where a female protagonist is forced to transform into a cyborg and seek justice for members of the underclass who lives on a hazardous waste site. This paper aims to examine how Chen's Waste Tide applies cyborgs to counter the impacts of globalization, environmental destruction, and the hegemony of the premodern system of Chinese society. In doing so, this paper employs the concept of a cyborg from Donna Haraway to explore the embodiment and functions of a cyborg, particularly in the context of Chinese society, together with the concept of "slow violence," a term coined by Rob Nixon to explore environmental issues. Four main discussions are presented in this paper. First, the paper suggests how Chen's SF realism sheds light on a relationship between the premodern Chinese clan system and globalization, which becomes a cause of environmental exploitation and oppression of subordinate humans and nonhumans in the novel. Second, the paper scrutinizes how Chen integrates Chinese elements into his cyberpunk narrative to resist the oppression of marginalized people in Chinese society. Third, the Sinicization of Chen's cyborg is discussed. The narrative illustrates how Chen uses the female body as a radical figure to challenge the concept of human beings through supporting the subaltern, thus subverting dominant Chinese culture. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of the limitations of Chen's narrative regarding a cyborg and how his narrative reflects elements of traditional Chinese gender ideology.

Parallel abstracts

陳楸帆是中國新一代科幻小說作者,善於利用科幻小說寫實主義探究中國社會問題。2013出版的小說《荒潮》獲得全球華語科幻星雲獎,小說描述反烏托邦式的後人類中國社會裡,被迫變形為賽博格的女主角為同處危險廢棄物掩埋場的社會底層社群尋求正義。本論文試圖檢視陳楸帆的《荒潮》如何應用賽博格來應對全球化、環境破壞、以及中國社會前現代制度霸權所帶來的影響。本論文應用唐娜哈洛威(Donna Haraway)的賽博格概念,探討中國社會脈絡下賽博格的具體化與功能,以及源自羅伯尼克森(Rob Nixon)討論環境問題的「慢暴力」概念。本文主要討論四點:第一,本文認為陳楸帆的科幻寫實主義可以闡明前現代的中國宗族制度與全球化之間的關係,此關係也是小說中造成環境剝削以及次人類與非人類被壓迫的原因;第二,本文檢視陳楸帆在賽博龐克敘事中如何整合中國元素,抵抗對於中國社會邊緣化族群的壓迫;第三,中國化的賽博格敘事說明陳楸帆利用女性身體作為一個激進的形象,透過支援社會底層挑戰人類的概念,顛覆強勢中國文化;第四,陳楸帆敘事中的賽博格反映傳統中國性別意識形態的元素,本文最後將討論其限制。

Parallel keywords

陳楸帆 科幻小說 賽博格 《荒潮》


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