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Linguistic Landscapes, Western Deathscapes

O'Regan, J; (2007) Linguistic Landscapes, Western Deathscapes. Presented at: Hybrides, Differences, Visions: The Study of Culture II, Modena, Italy. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper concerns the role of the foreign ‘deathspace’ as a linguistic and cultural marker of western identity amongst English-speaking sojourners residing in China in the nineteenth century. They included diplomats, soldiers, naval personnel, merchants, missionaries and their families. Between 1800 and 1860 a number of cemeteries were established in China for the burial of foreigners, particularly at centres of commerce and/or foreign occupation. These included cemeteries at Guangzhou, Macau, Hong Kong, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin. These burial grounds have now almost all disappeared. The few that remain are principally to be found in Hong Kong and Macau. The foreign cemetery in China – through the inscriptional texts which appear upon its tombs – is representative of a peculiarly English-speaking linguistic landscape. This landscape interpellated the nineteenth century cemetery visitor as a rational and Christian subject by projecting upon the reader certain cultural injunctions, concerning western ideals such as Christian faith, fidelity and personal duty. The layout and iconography of the foreign cemetery also presented to the visitor a culturally-western ‘deathscape’ of linearly-ordered memorial structures in a characteristic design – as for example headstones, pillars, slabs and chest tombs – which were often decorated with the recognisable, if simultaneously opaque, symbolic motifs of the deathspaces of home, such as the urn, the anchor and the all-seeing eye. The paper will present an overview of the foreign cemetery in China as a linguistic landscape and a western deathscape with particular reference to the Old Protestant Cemetery (1821-1859) in colonial Macau. References O’Regan, J. P. (2008). Foreign death in China: symbolism, ritual and belief in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Macau. Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch, 47, 127-164. O’Regan, J. P. (2009). The tombstones of the English East India Company cemetery in Macao: a linguistic analysis. Markers XXVI. Journal of the Association of Gravestone Studies, 88-119.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: Linguistic Landscapes, Western Deathscapes
Event: Hybrides, Differences, Visions: The Study of Culture II
Location: Modena, Italy
Dates: 19 - 20 October 2007
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-and-centres/...
Language: English
Keywords: Death, Identity, Discourse, Cemetery symbolism
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10085516
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