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An Ethics of Betrayal

The Politics of Otherness in Emergent U.S. Literatures and Culture

Crystal Parikh

Publication Year: 2009

In An Ethics of Betrayal, Crystal Parikh investigates the theme and tropes of betrayal and treason in Asian American and Chicano/Latino literary and cultural narratives. In considering betrayal from an ethical perspective, one grounded in the theories of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, Parikh argues that the minority subject is obligated in a primary, preontological, and irrecusable relation of responsibility to the Other. Episodes of betrayal and treason allegorize the position of this subject, beholden to the many others who embody the alterity of existence and whose demands upon the subject result in transgressions of intimacy and loyalty. In this first major comparative study of narratives by and about Asian Americans and Latinos, Parikh considers writings by Frank Chin, Gish Jen, Chang-rae Lee, Eric Liu, Amrico Parades, and Richard Rodriguez, as well as narratives about the persecution of Wen Ho Lee and the rescue and return of Elian Gonz\~lez. By addressing the conflicts at the heart of filiality, the public dimensions of language in the constitution of minority community,and the mercenary mobilizations of model minoritystatus, An Ethics of Betrayal seriously engages the challenges of conducting ethnic and critical race studies based on the uncompromising and unromantic ideas of justice, reciprocity, and ethical society.

Published by: Fordham University Press


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pp. c-ii

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

My greatest pleasure in completing An Ethics of Betrayal comes in the opportunity I have to thank the many individuals who have seen me through the process of writing it. To begin, I have been deeply indebted to the intellectual challenges and generosity that Sangeeta Ray and...

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1. Introduction: An Ethics of Betrayal

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pp. 1-28

In Dante’s Inferno, as is famously known, the ninth circle of hell is reserved for the most loathsome of sinners, those given special trust and love who have proven themselves traitors to God, country, and family. Most impressively, Lucifer gnaws on the heads of Judas, Brutus, and Cassius...

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2. Late Arrivals: An Ethics of Betrayal in Racial and National Formation

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pp. 29-63

During the past decade and a half, ethnic studies and American studies have begun to consider the disciplinary and epistemological relationship between their own objects and methodologies and those of diaspora studies, postcolonial studies, and area studies.1 This question has been...

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3. Accidents and Obligations: Minority Neoconservatives and U. S. Racial Discourse

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pp. 64-95

Because U. S. racial formations have been structured as the relations between a dominant center and raced margins, one of the most troubling questions that has attended the emergence of minority discourse is the resilience of assimilation as a viable model for cultural, political, and...

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4. Ethnic America Undercover: The Intellectual and Minority Discourse

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pp. 96-128

As we saw in Chapter 3, Richard Rodriguez and Eric Liu assert that the cultural politics of minority discourse produces for its subjects a type of “professional” identity that these writers impugn. They both nevertheless participate in such a professionalization by “reporting” to their...

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5. The Passion: The Betrayals of Elián González and Wen Ho Lee

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pp. 129-159

In April 2000, during the height of the media and political maelstrom surrounding the young Cuban boy rescued a little over four months earlier off the shores of Florida, the Washington Post ran a picture of Elián González hanging, arms akimbo, on a playground jungle gym, with a...

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Epilogue: The Traitors in Our Midst

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pp. 160-172

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the question of betrayal seemed to take on an immediacy and urgency that would have been difficult to imagine when I first began writing An Ethics of Betrayal. And yet, it remains difficult to know...


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pp. 173-218


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pp. 219-236


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pp. 237-242

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247158
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823230426
Print-ISBN-10: 0823230422

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009