Chitra Sankaran (PhD) has served as (acting) Head of Department and as Chair of Literature, Department of English, Linguistics and Theatre Studies, NUS. She is the founding and current president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Ecology in ASEAN (ASLE-ASEAN) and the founding and chief editor of the Journal of Southeast Asian Ecocriticism. She has published three monographs, ten edited volumes, and over 60 book chapters and research articles in international journals. Her recent publications include Women, Subalterns and Ecologies in South and Southeast Asian Women’s Fiction and a co-authored volume, Revenge of Gaia. E-mail: ellcs@nus.edu.sg


Posthuman Animal Narratives in and of South and Southeast Asia

Abstract: Since ancient times, across all cultures, animals have not only been a part of human reality but also formed a large part of the human imagination. In the myths and folklore of diverse cultures around the world, animals are a ubiquitous presence. However, their existence does not necessarily give us any insights into these fellow beings, who share our planet with us because animals in human tales are, by and large, anthropomorphized, attributed human characters such that they reveal more about humanity than animality. However, there have always been exceptions to this traditional perception that marks the boundary between humans and animals. This paper discusses animals (especially tigers) and their posthuman transformations in fiction centered on or emerging from Singapore, Malaysia, India, and Myanmar. Examining the posthuman condition in Simon Chesterman’s Artifice, set in Singapore, Amitav Ghosh’s Jungle Nama set in Myanmar and India, and Sir Hugh Clifford’s Were-Tiger Tales set in colonial Malaya, the paper discusses how these narratives present the liminal divide between humans and animals, and in doing so, interrogates the concept of human exclusivity that has come to be normalized in humanist narratives.
Keywords: posthuman, animal, Southeast Asian, fiction, narratives