A Land Imagined: A Transnational Framework on Land Reclamation and Labour

Digital Keynote by Dr Jerrine Tan
Hosted and Moderated by Dr. Ong Keng Sen 
Thu, 22 Sept 2022
Zoom Webinar
8pm (SGT/HKT) | 8am (EDT) | 2pm (CEST)
Moderated by Dr. Ong Keng Sen 
Registration has closed 

Yeo Siew Hua’s A Land Imagined is interspersed with long scenes at a work site. The camera often rests on the droning work of machines and workers carting and sorting gravel. But for all the movement that is displayed, no change has taken place. Piles of gravel are demolished and moved to make new piles. The persons in the film appear similarly fungible: an injured labourer can become a driver, a corpse may or may not explain a disappearance. Ultimately, the site is revealed to be a land reclamation site which reveals that movement of gravel is not a closed innocuous system, but is part of a zero-sum game, in which one country grows bigger by cannibalising those around it. Using Saidiya Hartman’s work on fungibility as a lens through which Dr Jerrine Tan considers the modern-day “coolie” in the film, and Lisa Lowe’s writing on immigration and citizenship, her PerForm keynote allegorises the movement of and across bodies of water for the similar movement of indentured labourers.

About Dr Jerrine Tan

Dr Jerrine Tan Ee-Wen (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of English and currently teaches in Hong Kong. She received her PhD from Brown University and was previously a Visiting Lecturer in Global Anglophone Literature at Mount Holyoke College. Her research interests include World Literature, Transnational Literature, Critical Race Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Film. Her scholarly and public writing have been published or are forthcoming in Modern Fiction Studies, Cambridge Companion to Kazuo Ishiguro, Lit Hub, WIRED, Los Angeles Review of Books, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, The Brooklyn Rail, and Post45.

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