“Look, sister, I’m doing a handstand; leaves are growing out of my body, roots are sprouting out of my hands…they delve down into the earth. Endlessly, endlessly…yes, I spread my legs because I wanted flowers to bloom from my crotch; I spread them wide…”

—“The Vegetarian”, Han Kang 한강

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《Dear Tree,》

Two years ago, Ran gifted me the novel, The Vegetarian, and it fated that this story will live with me for my whole life. In the story, the woman Yeong-Hyeon first resisted patriarchal oppression by becoming a vegetarian, then she stopped eating and desired photosynthesis, later she escaped to a forest—handstand and stay still to become a tree. Yeong-hyea ended up being enclosed in the psychiatric hospital, and diagnosed with schizophrenia and eating disorders. Ever since my first read, every time I listen to a middle-aged woman, every time I see myself suffocating in gender expectation, every time I land eyes on a specific tree in a distant forestland, I can’t help but think about Yeong-hye’s escape. What does it mean for a quiet woman to become a speechless plant? What is this transformative freedom within the staticness of the tree? What is this mysterious intimate connection when I hug a tree?

These letters between us in our goes on and on until today. Our encounter and understanding of trees are also continuing. These are my most precious archive of our friendship as two diasporic queer Chinese women living abroad, documenting our life from preparing to leave home to the U.S. during the pandemic, to building a life in new languages, culture, and geography. We write letters as collaborative world-making, exiling our spirit from the patriarchal, racist, and xenophobic society. As diasporic queer living under the communist party, we have no language. As women, we have no country. “Yet as trees in the distant exilic land, we are able to tear apart the constructed norms of bio-power with our upside-down body, and gaze back to the world that we come from with new sight (Wei, 2022).”

All My Love to,

Ran Wei

Tenlossiby Zou

Loren Yuehan Wang


Eiko Otake

and Performing and Producing Anthropology Spring 2023

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