Xenia Chan Ling-yee 陳靈兒 (she/her/佢/她) is a Ph.D. Candidate at Regis St. Michael’s College, Toronto School of Theology, at the University of Toronto. She is currently a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholar, an honorary Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellow, and a Forum for Theological Exploration Doctoral Fellow. Xenia holds a M.Div. degree (Biblical Studies/Church in the City) from the Seminary at Tyndale University, and a B.Soc.Sc. degree (Political Science/History) from the University of Ottawa. She is also pursuing ordination in the Free Methodist Church in Canada.
What are you studying and why?
I went to seminary in part because of a former student’s question. Coming from South Sudan, he asked, “How can you be sure that the gospel you preach is not just the white man’s gospel?” By my first semester, I had both fallen in love with the Hebrew Bible and been introduced to Paolo Freire—where my questions from these two distinct texts began the process of revealing and unravelling my own complicity in coloniality. At the same time, my call to ministry in my early young adulthood had very much involved the Sinophone Protestant church in Canada, and it’s safe to say that my scholarly interests are borne out of my pastoral concerns. I am haunted by the imaginations of the transpacific and Sinophone publics—horrified by them, in many cases—and my dissertation reflects that reality. I am also interested in the different ways of enunciating the past whilst projecting the future with a distinct sense of historicities—with the belief that by enacting poetic imagination, we might be able to alter memory and invoke minority survival in the deadly spaces between competing imperial interests and regimes. My dissertation, in that vein, is an examination of an archive composed of Jeremiah’s Confessions and transpacific Sinophone literature.
What has been your biggest learning experiences?
In the pandemic lockdowns, I was introduced to the work of poet Franny Choi, and her work on apocalypses has been impactful for me. What was particularly appealing to me, especially in the titular poem of her compilation, is that she points out that apocalypses are nothing new. In fact, they happen every day around us, whether we know, acknowledge, or see them as such. Making sense of the world that way helps situate where I am in the world and the small gestures that move us towards justice and towards the Divine. Or more simplistically, be water.
What has your experience been with PANAAWTM?
There are few spaces in the academy where we can be unapologetically Asian, and this is one of them. I’m grateful that our elders had the forethought and the desire—not just to put this together—but to keep it going for so many years. I was thrilled to find interlocutors, friends, and mentors in this wonderful mix of people, and I am grateful for this space. I especially want to give a shout-out to the Rev. Dr. Christine Hong, who I very much look up to. Christine walked with me through my early years of my doctorate, and she embodies the kind of scholar I aspire to be. She is kind, generous, a good listener, and has a knack for telling things the way they are—I have learned so much from her.
What brings you hope and joy?
The little things—making and drinking coffee with friends along with good conversation, taking my cat on walks, spending time with my fiancé and my family, eating good food, listening to jazz, and long treks in the woods—are what rejuvenate me to practice hope and joy. These things remind me that evil might think hegemonically, but good does not. Hope and joy are practices that remind the powers that be, that, whatever they might think of themselves, they do not have the final say. Instead, hope and joy, for me, are rooted in home, and ultimately that enables me to love well and pursue justice.