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Dr. Meng Xia

Meng Xia

Fellow in the project „Epochal Life Worlds: Man, Nature and Technology in Narratives of Crisis and Change“ (June - August 2023)

Short Biography

Meng Xia completed her doctoral studies and teaches in Chinese Studies at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, on the topic of history, memory and narrative in overseas Chinese migrant fiction. She has lectured at the Communication University of Zhejiang, Hangzhou, China. She conducted an empirical research project on theatre reception at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, US as visiting researcher in 2015. She published journal articles, editorials, book reviews and translations, and presented her research at international conferences on China studies, world literature and comparative literature. Her research interests include Chinese contemporary literature and cultural studies, memory culture studies, diaspora, narratological theories, trauma and affect, and reception theories.


The Narrative of Transcultural Pandemic Memory - Communities of Memory in and around China 

The Narrative of Transcultural Pandemic Memory - Communities of Memory in and around China In this project, I pinpoint transcultural memory as the essential approach to globally shared experiences, in this case, the pandemic. “Transcultural memory” means connecting local memories with the loci of its transposition and translation, including memories triggered from transnational experiences as well as shared memories of global context and significance. Specific to pandemic memory, the disruption of routes and routines, the suffering of the disadvantaged and the marginal, and the trauma from loss and fear, accumulate into common memories relatable to people regardless of their origin and residency. In this case, transcultural memory binds people in the sense of mutual impact and entangled relations; yet it also widens the gaps: disputes and splits emerge from divergent reactions to this pandemic with values confronting between cultures and regimes. In this context, my research investigates how narratives of pandemic memory, particularly from literature, expose the “communities of memory”—within which people recount and interpret their memory with potential common ground and empathy. I will argue that communities of memory are forged in the narrative of transcultural memory and provide spaces of communication beyond politics and nationalism. I propose that transcultural memory located in literature, though drawn from disparate points of departure, demonstrate possibilities to reimagine worldmaking in the post-Covid era through fictive or nonfictive writing. The narrative of pandemic memory is examined in its formulation and response to shared experiences from a transcultural lens, particularly in works contributed by Chinese writers along with their counterparts from the globe. I argue that the construction of memory does not only reminisce and commemorate crisis and casualties but envisions choices of worldmaking. That is, narratives of memory build non-fictional or fictional accounts and descriptions counteracting those narratives alleged as factual, rational, and realistic. Literature potentially illuminates the “suspending actuality” on dimensions beyond the material world or virtual cyberspace, to tap into the depth of feelings, emotions, and sensations echoing a past that will never elapse. From this viewpoint, I probe the making of possible worlds in literature in terms of the creative and prospective recollection of pandemic memory, within which local memory from China and other localities resonate with each other, which is enabled through the translatability of memory and trauma.