Pour désorienter une autoethnographie orientale : une étude des représentations identitaires chez quatre écrivains québécois d’origine asiatique
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Since the end of World War II, migration has significantly changed the demography of ethnic minorities in Canada. In Quebec, the writing of this heterogeneous group participates in the questioning of identity that has been at the centre of Quebec literature since its birth. The rise of this writing, welcomed in the era of multiculturalism and globalism of the 90s, raises doubts about the easy celebration of otherness and cultural métissage. It is in this context that we situate the writings of Ying Chen, Aki Shimazaki, Ook Chung and Kim Thúy. In order to establish a critical paradigm resistant to exoticism, our thesis offers a comparative study of these four Asian Québécois writers and scrutinizes how they negotiate their freedom of literary creation between reclaiming the minority ethnic heritage and adapting to the host society. The first part identifies the converging points of the corpus in terms of race, language, culture and subjectivity. These “autoethnographic” parameters are the major places where our writers negotiate a compromise between individuality and collectivity. The second part focuses on the ways in which they subvert the essentialist conception of identity based on ethnicity and “disorientate” their writings: the pulverization of Chineseness by Chen, the polarization of Japaneseness by Shimazaki and the overall métissage in Chung’s works. These writers’ perception of literary creation, discussed in the third part, presents an in-betweenness that every writer, migrant or not, experiences: writing, prompted by individual differences and expected to overcome them, perpetuates the singularity and the non-belonging shared by creators and renders impossible their social integration. In summary, by highlighting the tension between writing as an individual creative act and ethnicity as a collective identifier, our study suggests some parameters to consider when analyzing the emergent Asian Québécois writing: the ethnographic and autographic dimensions, the aesthetic and ethic “disorientating” practices, and the condition of literary creation.