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Uncoupling American Empire

Cultural Politics of Deviance and Unequal Difference, 1890-1910

Yu-Fang Cho

Publication Year: 2014

A cultural studies consideration of marriage and those considered “deviant” in the nineteenth-century American imagination.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

Preliminary ideas that informed the central inquiry of this book first emerged when I was a MA graduate student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. For inspiring my thinking about racial politics of gender and sexuality in U.S. cultures and for sustaining my interest in feminist and queer cultural studies, I thank Bruce Burgett, the late Amy...

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Introduction: Unfree Labor and the Geopolitics of Marriage and Sexuality

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pp. 1-24

In April 1925, Ng Fung Sing, a U.S. citizen born to Chinese parents, was denied entry into the United States—the country of her birth—because of her marriage to a Chinese citizen, an “alien ineligible to citizenship.”1 Unlike other women who could regain their citizenship through naturalization based on the Cable Act of 1922 when they themselves and their...

Part I. Uncertain Domesticity

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1. Sexual Deviance and Racial Excess

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pp. 27-50

In July 1885, W. T. Stead, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette in London, published a series of articles titled “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon,” which became a landmark in the public debates over child and adolescent sexuality. Describing the findings of Stead’s private investigations into juvenile prostitution in London, these articles challenged the...

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2. Orientalism, Black Domesticity, and Imperial Ambivalence

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pp. 51-74

In a letter to his mother written during the Philippine–American War, African American Captain W. H. Jackson remarks, “The people [in Manila] are especially friendly to the colored soldiers, always saying there is no difference between them and us.” Reprinted in the Colored American Magazine (CAM) in June 1900, just a few months before positive...

Part II. Trans-Pacific Archives Unbound

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3. “Yellow Slavery” and Sensational Violence

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pp. 77-102

In 1901, the year before the Geary Act was up for renewal to further extend the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, “Well Up on Chinese Subjects” (figure 3.1) appeared in the Wasp, a San Francisco weekly known for its political satire on the powerful and the pretentious.2 Alluding to the prevailing trope of “yellow slavery” in late-nineteenth-century anti-Chinese...

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4. Domesticating the Aliens: Sentimental Benevolence

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pp. 103-126

In 1901, “Chinese Romeo and Juliet” (figure 4.1) was featured alongside many festive images in the Christmas issue of the Wasp, the same year that “Well Up on Chinese Subjects,” discussed in the last chapter, also appeared. Contrary to late-nineteenth-century stereotype of the Chinese as “yellow slaves,” this unusual visual representation ascribes humanity to this...

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5. Domesticity, Race, and Colonial Modernity

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pp. 127-148

Against a backdrop of rolling hills and a towering palm tree surrounded by a variety of lush plants, the lure of the tropics is amply illustrated on the cover of the January, 1894 issue of The Helping Hand, one of the most widely circulated women’s missionary magazines in the United States, published by the Woman’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society in...

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Postscript: The Obama Paradox

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pp. 149-152

I stumbled upon the wedding photo on the book cover at the Knight Library at the University of Oregon during early stages of research for this book in 2002. As a new ABD unsettled by the lack of attention to female intimacies in both contemporary and historical scholarship on U.S.-Asia relations, I eagerly searched for their traces here and also in other archives...


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pp. 153-190

Works Cited

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pp. 191-206


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pp. 207-212

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781438449005
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438448992

Page Count: 218
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 870141025
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Uncoupling American Empire

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Deviant behavior in literature.
  • Marriage in popular culture.
  • Marriage in literature.
  • American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • Deviant behavior in mass media.
  • Cultural pluralism -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
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