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Pluralist Universalism

An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms

Wen Jin

Publication Year: 2012

Pluralist Universalism: An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms by Wen Jin is an extended comparison of U.S. and Chinese multiculturalisms during the post–Cold War era. Her book situates itself at the intersection of Asian American literary critique and the growing field of comparative multiculturalism. Through readings of fictional narratives that address the issue of racial and ethnic difference in both national contexts simultaneously, the author models a “double critique” framework for U.S.–Chinese comparative literary studies.The book approaches U.S. liberal multiculturalism and China’s ethnic policy as two competing multiculturalisms, one grounded primarily in a history of racial desegregation and the other in the legacies of a socialist revolution. Since the end of the Cold War, the two multiculturalisms have increasingly been brought into contact through translation and other forms of mediation. Pluralist Universalism demonstrates that a number of fictional narratives, including those commonly classified as Chinese, American, and Chinese American, have illuminated incongruities and connections between the ethno-racial politics of the two nations. The “double critique” framework builds upon critical perspectives developed in Asian American studies and adjacent fields. The book brings to life an innovative vision of Asian American literary critique, even as it offers a unique intervention in ideas of ethnicity and race prevailing in both China and the United States in the post–Cold War era.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

IN THE AFTERMATH of the July 2009 Uyghur riot in Xinjiang, the far northwest province of China with a large concentration of ethnic minority people, foreign correspondent Howard French suggested in a special column in the New York Times that the Chinese government take note of the Kerner Commission...

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pp. xv-xvii

MOST OF THIS BOOK was written at Columbia University, but the seeds for it were sown many years ago, when I was still a confused undergraduate. My most important mentors from that period of my life, Chu Xiaoquan of Fudan University and...

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pp. 1-36

PLURALIST UNIVERSALISM provides a comparison of U.S. liberal multiculturalism and China’s policy toward minority nationalities that does not ascribe a fundamental otherness to either side. It argues that U.S. liberal multiculturalism and China’s policy toward minority...

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1. Bridging the Chasm: A Survey of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms

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pp. 37-68

THE FIRST PART of this chapter offers a survey of the histories of U.S. liberal multiculturalism and China’s official ethnic policy. The survey extends back to the rise of racial minority movements in the U.S. in the 1960s and the institutionalization of the CCP’s ethnic policy in the early 1950s,...

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2. How Not to Be an Empire: On Conciliatory Multiculturalism

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pp. 69-104

AN IMPORTANT GLOBAL publishing event in 2008 was the release of The Wolf Totem, in North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific simultaneously, Howard Goldblatt’s English translation of Chinese author Jiang Rong’s novel Lang Tuteng. As of now, the translation rights for the book have been...

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3. Toward a Comparative Critique: Metaphor and Dissenting Nationalism in Alex Kuo

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pp. 105-136

IN CHINESE OPERA, Alex Kuo’s first foray into fiction writing, a mixed-race American couple, Sonny Lin and Sissy George, visit the PRC in the days leading up to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. In a surprising twist of the plot toward the end of the novel, Sissy George, part Native American and part black, succeeds...

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4. A New Politics of Faith: Zhang Chengzhi’s Xinling Shi and Rabih Alameddine’s Koolaids: The Art of War

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pp. 137-172

IN HIS 1993 essay “Helpless Thought,” Hui Muslim writer Zhang Chengzhi revisits his anger at the assertion of America military power during the first Gulf War, which he sees as a step toward consolidating the unipolar world order that prevailed in the decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union....

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5. Impersonal Intimacy: Yan Geling’s Fusang and Its English Translation

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pp. 173-200

MY DISCUSSIONS of Kuo, Zhang, and Alameddine in previous chapters argue that these authors reconstruct histories of violent conflicts between the majority state and ethno-racial and religious minorities in a way that punctures the myth of an already achieved state of national harmony that prevails...

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pp. 201-203

AS A GLOBAL PROJECT, multiculturalism’s search for workable formulas for balancing national coherence and ethnic justice is always already characterized by cross-national comparisons and borrowing. Even as they propose expansive models of multiculturalism, the authors studied in this book...

English and Chinese Bibliography

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pp. 205-220


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pp. 221-224

E-ISBN-13: 9780814270523
E-ISBN-10: 0814270522
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814211878
Print-ISBN-10: 0814211879

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2012