The Middle Place: Mediation and Heterotopia in Nick Joaquín’s The Woman Who Had Two Navels

Iping Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Iping Liang adopts the historical trope of the “middleman” in order to explore how the ethnic Chinese migrant merchants had historically straddled the divide between the Spanish conquistadors and the local indigenous peoples in the Philippines and investigates the spatial intermediation of the “middle place” in Nick Joaquín’s seminal novel, The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1961). By drawing on the work of Michel Foucault, Edward Soja, Robert Tally, among others, this chapter examines the literary cartography of the “middle place” in the novel. First, it focuses on the ethic enclave of Binondo, Manila Chinatown, which mediates between the native city of Manila and the colonial regime of the US after the war. Second, it applies Edward Said’s thoughts on postcolonial exile to the exilic setting in Hong Kong and investigates how the island space, as a site of Foucauldian heterogenic intermediation, is also a “middle place” that provides Filipino expatriates with a sense of postcolonial exilic agency.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameGeocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies
ISSN (Print)2578-9694
ISSN (Electronic)2634-5188


  • Chinese immigrants
  • Foucault
  • Heterotopia
  • Hong Kong
  • Nick Joaquín
  • Space
  • The Philippines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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