Professor Shih to Deliver Berlin Keynote

Published: March 14, 2018

Professor Shu-mei Shih will deliver the April keynote at Berlin’s Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften –– itself housed in Humboldt University. Entitled “Sinophone Meets Francophone,” the conference is outlined as follows, while a full event schedule can be found here:

In the past decades, debates on regional identities, linguistic diversity and cultural production in many parts of Africa, Asia and the Americas and have centred on the terms “Sinophone” and “Francophonie”. Both terms are situated in highly controversial fields of inquiry: regional identity formation vis-à-vis dominant political and cultural centre (China/Beijing and France/Paris), cultural production in the context of linguistic hegemony (dominance of French and Mandarin Chinese and, as a result, the marginalization of regional languages), and the negotiation of alternatives that transgress the aforementioned A vs. B dichotomies. Despite these similarities, there are also obvious differences underlying the concepts of Sinophone and Francophonie. With a history of more than 130 years and strong institutional backing from France, Francophonie is a firmly established and universally recognized term. By contrast, the term Sinophone denotes a novel and emerging concept that is currently mostly debated among ethnic Chinese writers and academics outside China, notably in the United States and Taiwan. In the light of these similarities and differences, a comparative approach to these controversial concepts seems self-evident. Surprisingly, however, such an attempt has never been made before. It is therefore the key objective of this conference to bring together leading international scholars of Sinophone Studies and Francophonie and to explore and compare the conceptual boundaries underlying both terms.