Volume 14, Issue 1, 2017
Multicultural Cartography and Alternative Modernity in The Last Days of Old Beijing
The term “Marginocentric cities” has been used to describe those multiethnic nodal cities “that at favorable historical conjunctions have rewritten the national cultural paradigm from the margin, ascribing to it a dialogic dimension, both internally (in dialogue with other ethnic traditions) and externally (in dialogue with lager geocultural paradigms)” (Cornis-Pope and Neubauer, 2002:26). Whereas this map of marginocentric cities is restricted to East-Central Europe, this paper, focusing on the novel The Last Days of Old Beijing, insists that the concept of “marginocentric city” is also operative for Beijing city as a nodal space of cultural exchanges in which boundaries might be more elusive and national geographies dislocated. At the same time, I propose the constitutive dialectics of being simultaneously central and marginal should be regarded in relation to the complex relationships taking place in Beijing, different from the Western modernity, as it appears in this cross-cultural novel which also combines tradition and modernity.