ABSTRACT

This article juxtaposes the Singapore playwright Kuo Pao Kun's imagining of ancient maritime trade with evocations of similar histories in the discourse of Afro-Asian solidarity that was inspired by the Bandung Conference of 1955. At the first “Afro-Asian Writers' Conference” held at Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1958, several members of the Chinese delegation framed the cultural exchange among Third World nations in terms of the Silk Road. These allusions highlight the deep memory of non-western empires and a circulatory history that embedded the nation-state as a dominant political form and intellectual framework for discussions of international exchange. Trying to articulate the discourse of Afro-Asian solidarity of the 1950s and 1960s with some recent concerns regarding sinophone culture in Chinese studies, this article calls attention to the sinophone South, the vastly uneven geography where the “South,” as both concept and location, overlaps with the Chinese script world. My research shows that many sinophone intellectuals and authors embraced the “Third-Worldist, antiimperialist, nationalist” agendas. Their activities constitute the vibrant scenes of the global sixties, but because of their nonnational status, they remain neglected by existing discussions of Third World exchange and global Maoism.

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