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Asian North American Identities

Beyond the Hyphen

Eleanor Ty and Donald C. Goellnicht, eds.

Publication Year: 2004

The nine essays in Asian North American Identities explore how Asian North Americans are no longer caught between worlds of the old and the new, the east and the west, and the south and the north. Moving beyond national and diasporic models of ethnic identity to focus on the individual feelings and experiences of those who are not part of a dominant white majority, the essays collected here draw from a wide range of sources, including novels, art, photography, poetry, cinema, theatre, and popular culture. The book illustrates how Asian North Americans are developing new ways of seeing and thinking about themselves by eluding imposed identities and creating spaces that offer alternative sites from which to speak and imagine.

Contributors are Jeanne Yu-Mei Chiu, Patricia Chu, Rocio G. Davis, Donald C. Goellnicht, Karlyn Koh, Josephine Lee, Leilani Nishime, Caroline Rody, Jeffrey J. Santa Ana, Malini Johar Schueller, and Eleanor Ty.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. ix-xii

The editors and contributors would like to thank their families, friends, and colleagues who have supported them through the research, writing, and editing of these essays. ...

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pp. 1-14

In recent years, there have been a number of attempts to redefine and stretch the parameters of Asian American studies and the term “Asian American” itself (see S. Wong, “Denationalization”; Lowe, “Heterogeneity”). Scholars and critics recognize that “Asian American,” though a useful designation coined for the political coalition of different ethnic Asian communities in the United ...

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1. Affect-Identity: The Emotions of Assimilation, Multiraciality, and Asian American Subjectivity

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pp. 15-43

Having entered a new millennium, American life today is rife with the contradictions of corporate privatization, the deregulated expansion of capital, and the globalization of free trade. As the reigning political economic paradigm of our time, neoliberal capitalism, as Noam Chomsky, David Harvey, Naomi Klein, and many other critics of corporate globalization argue, vitiates democratic powers of government and obstructs the ability of nation-states to control ...

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2. “I’m Blackanese”: Buddy-Cop Films, Rush Hour, and Asian American and African American Cross-racial Identification

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pp. 44-60

Race in America has largely been understood as a matter of black and white. Even academic conceptual frames tend to emphasize the dichotomies between the colonizer and the colonized, the center and the periphery. Yet it is becoming increasingly obvious that these binaries cannot encompass the experience of many Americans, particularly Asian Americans, who have always occupied ...

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3. “To Hide Her True Self ”: Sentimentality and the Search for an Intersubjective Self in Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman

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pp. 61-83

In Asian American literature, the portrayal of Asian female subjectivities is shaped by multiple discursive constraints. On one hand, Western accounts of female subjectivity struggle with the paradox of women being nominally included in the concept of the Western, Cartesian, universal self—a self defined as pure mind—while also being figured as the embodied “other” of that disembodied, rational self. On the other hand, Asian American writers must also address the tradition of figuring Asians, and others of color, as the embodied...

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4. Identities in Process: The Experimental Poetry of Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Myung Mi Kim

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pp. 84-101

Contemporary American poets Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Myung Mi Kim use experimental forms to defamiliarize and complicate representations of individual psychology, autobiographical experience, cultural translations, and specific histories. Through purposefully obscure narratives, they ask us to delve for and create meanings, a process of thinking which helps to evoke the fullness ...

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5. Asian America Is in the Heartland: Performing Korean Adoptee Experience

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pp. 102-117

After the Korean War ended in 1953, approximately 110,000 children were adopted from South Korea, with about 75,000 children going to the United States and the rest to such nations as Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries, and Great Britain. In the 1980s, more than half of all foreign children adopted in the U.S. came from Korea. Until 1990, South Korea was the ...

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6. “A Task of Reclamation”: Subjectivity, Self-Representation, and Textual Formulation in Sara Suleri’s Meatless Days

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pp. 118-129

Life writing has long been one of the most emblematic forms of American art, transforming the interactions of self and society into literary performance that nuance responses to questions on selfhood and affiliation. For immigrants arriving in the quest for the American dream, the impulse toward self-inscription recapitulates what Paul John Eakin considers “the fundamental rhythms of ...

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7. The Transnational Imagination: Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange

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pp. 130-148

On a Los Angeles freeway overpass stands a white-haired man with a raised baton, conducting the music of the traffic below. Depending on the time of day, traffic patterns, and the rhythm of peoples’ lives, the music he guides into being can be “excruciatingly beautiful.” “When it was really good,” writes Karen Tei Yamashita, “it brought tears. He let them run down his face and onto ...

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8. At the Edge of a Shattered Mirror, Community?

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pp. 149-169

In her discussion of Asian American cultural production, Lisa Lowe cogently elaborates a theory of the emergence of new critical subjectivities that are multiple and heterogeneous. Specifically, Lowe points out that the concept of heterogeneity enables one to envision subjectivities that embrace internal differences (such as gender, sexuality, and class) within an identity category. Indeed ...

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9. Claiming Postcolonial America: The Hybrid Asian-American Performances of Tseng Kwong Chi

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pp. 170-186

The title of this essay, “Claiming Postcolonial America,” is a deliberate yoking together of critical terrains that have been seen as oppositional in recent debates about Asian-American studies. Whereas “claiming America” on behalf of “Asian America, so long ignored and forcibly excluded from creative participation in American culture” was the manifesto of Frank Chin and Jeffrey Chan ...


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pp. 187-200


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pp. 201-204


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pp. 205-212

E-ISBN-13: 9780253110916
E-ISBN-10: 0253110912
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253343802

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 9 b&w photos, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2004