Location: Academic Building, Room 1100
Leftist culture in Hong Kong and Malaya was different from the simply defined propaganda work of Communist China. This talk will focus on the cultural activities of the well-known leftist intellectual Hu Yuzhi (1896-1986) in the “Nanyang” during the 1940s, as well as the development of the Singapore-based Shanghai Book Company with which Hu maintained a close relationship until his death. This study will particularly emphasize how Hu and his Leftist friends tried to make cultural connections with the local younger generation, by analyzing the youth weekly Fengxia which he initiated during his stay in Singapore in the 1940s. The talk will also explain how he used Shanghai Book Co. to influence the publication of local textbooks for Chinese schools and popular novels on how to guide the young generation’s thoughts and lives in Southeast Asia. This leads to the discussion of how ideologically motivated transregional cultural networks and the propagandistic use of youth cultures shaped the development of indigenous Sinophone cultures in this region. More importantly, Hu Yuzhi and other leftist “border crossers” like Guo Moruo and Xia Yan joined debates about "Malayanization" and "Chineseness" among local Chinese writers and intellectuals in the Nanyang. My talk therefore revisits Hu Yuzhi’s editorials published in Fengxia and the newspaper Nan Chiau Jit Pao in Singapore to reconsider their role in the creation of new definitions of “Chineseness” in Cold War Southeast Asia.