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Introduction: Interested in Postcolonial Studies, Language Politics and Collaborative Research and Learning? Let’s Connect!

Hi, everyone! My apologies for the late introduction. My name is Fiona Lee and I am a Ph.D Candidate at The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). I am currently completing my dissertation, Reading Nation in Translation: The Spectral Transnationality of the Malaysian Racial Imaginary in Literature and Visual Culture, which examines the ways in which national racial ideology is shaped by even as it shapes globally circulating racial ideologies of colonialism, the Cold War and globalized capitalism. I teach postcolonial and global Anglophone literatures and am particularly interested in finding creative uses of digital technology to learn, teach and collaborate. 

My main interest in participating as a HASTAC Scholar this year is to learn more about the various technologies and practices used to build and sustain online scholarly communities. A topic that is of particular interest to me is the issue of language politics and translation in the production of postcolonial scholarship. For example, in the context of Malaysian literary and cultural studies, research is published in several languages including English, Malay and Chinese. Scholarship in these languages are not only produced at institutions in Malaysia, but around the world in North America, the United Kingdom, Taiwan and Australia, to name a few. However, there is little dialogue between scholars working on similar research areas but in different languages and translations of published work are minimal. Furthermore, research in English is often more visible than others given the language’s global hegemonic status. Given that racialized differences in Malaysia tend to be demarcated along the lines of linguistic difference, the lack of exchange between scholars working in different languages tends to reinforce social hierarchies and constitute 


These issues are by no means unique to Malaysian literary and cultural studies. Indeed, I would argue that the politics of language in scholarly production ought to be a key focus among academic communities interested in bringing historically marginalized perspectives into the conversation. There’s that oft-circulated statistic that 80% of content on the Internet is in English. If that’s indeed the case, how is digital media complicit in reinforcing the hegemony of scholarship in English? What impact does it have on fields of study engaged in  In what ways can digital technology, social media and online spaces be used as a means to work and think through the politics of language in scholarship production? As a means of fostering exchange across languages? As a means of thinking about the incommensurabilities between languages and its shaping of knowledge? Off the top of my head, Wikipedia, a plurilingual space, seems a rich site for thinking through these questions. I’d love to connect with people who are interested in these and related concerns. Looking forward to productive engagements with you all! 


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