- Institute for Cultural Interaction Studies, Kansai University
- pp.261-278, 2011-03-31
Individuals' personal identity is closely related to their socialculturalcollective one. Therefore, if we perceive identity as that setof cultural ideas and practices which are daily learned andimplemented by members of a given society, we realize the measureof its conventional nature. Individual's identity, focused on thefeelings of an actor who identifi es with a given group, is a socialconstruct; therefore, it is provisional, conventional, contextual, andapparently tied to one space and one time, yet totally detached fromthem.Taking this perspective and refugee studies as our starting point,we will deepen the analysis of the boundary identities of exiles,focusing on the case study of the Chinese poet Yang Lian and hisliterary production of the 90s.Yang Lian, one of the forefathers of Chinese contemporary poetry,has been living outside the PRC since the Tiananmen Squareincident. We will discuss those sanwens and poems which are deeplyrooted in the traumatic experiences of violence and forced exile, inthe constantly frustrated attempt to express displacement throughpoetry, which gave birth to the free exchange between two diff erentidentities and worlds and two opposite literary forms. Yang Lian's proses from the fi rst 90s off er the very depiction of the complexityof the relationship between one poet and his own art, rooted in theunconscious birth of changing identifi cation rules.Nowadays Yang Lian, who holds a New Zealand citizenship,declares he has undergone an identitary re-birth that rebuilt him asan international poet, yet defi nitely local. He claims that theexperience of exile gave him the unique chance to experiment witha new perception of his own cultural identity, more fl uid and free,an identity which has started becoming completely borderless sincethe day he consciously decided 'to break through the limits oflanguage, to force himself to touch the border and cross it'.