Reincarnation: the Orientalist Stereotypes


  • Amelberga Astuti Monash University


Orientalism, Asian Australian, women, reincarnation, dislocation


In her third novel The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), Amy Tan uses the notion of reincarnation, which shows her exploitation of the exotic East that reaffirms the stereotypes of Orientalism. The question that has to be raised is whether Tan’s use of the concept of reincarnation to reinforce Orientalist stereotypes is also to be found in those Asian-Australian novels that use the concept of reincarnation in their representations of Australia’s multiethnic society. This paper examines how the Asian-Australian writers use the concept of reincarnation to explore the individuals’ dislocated experiences in relation to their search of identity. I explore the symbolic narratives of reincarnation in two novels by Asian-Australian women writers: Dewi Anggraeni’s second novel Parallel Forces (1988) and Lillian Ng’s second novel Swallowing Clouds (1997). Each novel deals with a woman protagonist who is the reincarnation of a woman who lived centuries ago. Employing multi-settings of the novels in Asia and Australia, the writers have established connections between Western and Eastern cultures in an Orientalism context. In this paper, I suggest that these Asian-Australian women writers attempt to challenge Orientalist stereotypes through the theme of reincarnation in different ways.

Author Biography

Amelberga Astuti, Monash University

PhD candidate at Literary and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts, Monash University