厦语电影与华语语系的“方言问题“ = Amoy-dialect cinema and the "Problem of Chinese Dialects" in Sinophone studies
Yeo, Min Hui
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The short-lived nature of the genre itself, coupled with the paradigmatic dominance of “National Cinema” in Cinema Studies have long stunted the study of Amoy-dialect cinema – an industry with a unique transnational production and distribution network connecting Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaya from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. It is only in recent years that Amoy-dialect cinema history finally received some academic attention following the advent of alternative paradigmatic possibilities. However, much still remains to be done in documenting the history of this unique cinematic genre, and it is to this ongoing work that this paper wishes to contribute to. Besides Cinema Studies, the field of Sinophone Studies has also been actively reinventing itself in a bid to further its strength and potential for reform. Over the past decade, Sinophone Studies constantly revised its definitions and parameters in order to better tackle the complexity of identity and cultural politics inherent in the use of Sinitic languages all over the world. However, as a relatively new discourse, there is still much room for improvement in its conceptualization. This paper wishes to address one particular problem and area that has yet to be satisfactorily theorized and discussed in Sinophone Studies: the relationship between Chinese dialects and their respective ancestral home villages. Recognizing that the study of Amoy-dialect cinema history can potentially help to solve this “problem of Chinese dialects” in Sinophone Studies while at the same time contribute to the construction of a more inclusive cinema history, this paper aims to pave two interrelated tracks of discussion using Amoy-dialect cinema as its object of study: Using first-hand materials that had once circulated within Singapore and Malaya, this paper seeks to document the transformation of Amoy-dialect cinema, with a focus on the development of music genre in these films. Simultaneously, using Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of “territory”, this paper also attempts to analyze the changing relationship between this dialect cultural production and its ancestral home village, as well as what it could have meant, for Amoy-dialect communities living outside of their ancestral home village, to consume this cultural product at each of its different stages of development.