Research project: Trauma, Memory, And Healing in Modern Asian Literature




This project is supported under the Faculty Development Scheme (FDS) of the Research Grants Council (RGC).

Principal Investigator: Dr Sharanya JAYAWICKRAMA, Assistant Professor of the Department of English Language and Literature

Amount awarded: HK$407,100

Duration of the project: January 2015 – December 2016


Did histories of conflict and world-historical catastrophes inflict only material damage, or did they cause psychic injury as well? What would it mean, then, to read modern Asian writings under the prism of trauma? In the research project “Trauma, Memory, and Healing in Modern Asian Literature”, Dr. Sharanya JAYAWICKRAMA, Assistant Professor of the Department of English Language and Literature, tackles these questions through an examination of the complex and surprising intersections of literature, history and ethics. The focus is trans-cultural and the analysis is centred on literary texts that explore traumatic memory and witnessing in Asia.

As a continuation and expansion of her earlier research on South Asian literature, the project is designed to be open and attentive to a variety of literary languages, narrative forms, and representations of voice and subjectivity. It questions how different social and historical contexts have generated diverse strategies of literary and cultural representation during and following human suffering.

In addition to generating new knowledge and critical study of contemporary Asian literature, this project contributes to the globalization of literary studies and participates in the imperative to restore a cross-cultural perspective to trauma studies. Her hybrid method that encompasses historicism, psychoanalysis and literary critique stakes a bold, new ground in contemporary Asian literature studies.

At this early point, this project is focused on gathering resources that reflect the cultural and theoretical meanings of trauma, memory, and healing in Asia.  Dr Jayawickrama is assisted by a Research Assistant, Ms Jim Hoi Ying, a graduate of HKSYU, with this initial research and also in organizing a symposium that will take place later this year, which will facilitate academic exchange and research collaboration among scholars.

Source: May Issue 2015

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