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133 Conclusion American Studies beyond National Borders This book began with the idea of the nation. Who is and is not considered “American ,” and what can we learn from the way the category has been deployed and interrogated in legal, historical, and literary discourse? It ends by looking beyond national borders to other ways of imagining the world. Specifically, what might academic disciplines like American studies gain if we consider the United States to be part of a LatinAsian contact zone, one that stretches east to Asia and south to Latin America? As the world becomes increasingly globalized through migration , capital, and new media, and as activists seek to forge alliances across national boundaries, the question of where “America” begins and ends becomes more pressing. Latina/o studies scholars like José David Saldívar turn to concepts such as “Americanity” and “trans-­ Americanity” to “broaden, open, and outernationalize our internally colonized horizons” and to bring together ethnic studies and postcolonial studies, especially within the Western hemisphere.1 In Asian American studies, too, scholars have grappled with how to understand an increasingly transnational field without underestimating the continued power of the nation-­ state. In a special issue of Modern Fiction Studies, Stephen Hong Sohn, Paul Lai, and Donald C. Goellnicht discuss the complexity of defining Asian American literature given transnational flows between Asia and the United States, post-­1965 demographic shifts, and sticky questions about race and authorship (how do we define “Asian American” without resorting to essentializing race?) These difficulties complicate the fields of Latina/o and Asian American studies but also enrich thembywideningthescopeoftheirinquiry.RatherthanchastiseAsianAmerican studies for its theoretically undefined boundaries, for example, Sohn, Lai, and Goellnicht celebrate these flexible boundaries for creating a dynamic and imaginatively productive field. They call for critics to “develop shifting understandings” of Asian America as well as “of how our critical investments shape which authors and texts emerge as privileged subjects of analysis.”2 134 LatinAsian Cartographies In this conclusion, I ask how nation-­ states and borders may shape which authors and texts have been considered “Latina/o” or “Asian American.” Can the boundaries of Latina/o and Asian American literature be productively extended past the borders of the U.S. nation-­ state? Can they be dislocated from race such that a Latina/o text may be written by an author of Asian ancestry, or a Latin American protagonist elucidate Asian American experiences? Most importantly, what can we learn about “America” and American history from including these transnational experiences? Specifically, I propose a different orientation to transnationalism in Latina/o and Asian American texts, one that is open to porous borders along both North-­ South and East-­ West axes. In the case of the Asian American literary canon, I also call for looking beyond English-­ language texts to those originally written in other “American” languages, including Spanish. Already, literary critics have expanded the definition of Asian American literature to encompass texts originally written in Asian languages; Sohn, Lai, and Goellnicht discuss the importance of the Angel Island poetry written in Chinese, observing that “texts that have been penned in languages other than English have been considered Asian American based on the setting of those texts in America .”3 Yet unexamined in this discourse is the definition of the term “America,” which is most often conflated with the United States, or occasionally extended to include Canada in works referring to “Asian North American” identities.4 The assumption that “America” refers only to North America, and more specifically to the United States, ignores the long history of Asians in Latin America. It fails to recognize the constant movement of people north and south across the United States-­ Mexico border, a movement that includes people of Asian descent. A growing body of historical scholarship on Asian Latin American populations suggests that it is time to take what historian Erika Lee calls a “hemispheric approach” to Asian American literary studies.5 One might also propose a more racially open-­ ended Latina/o studies that does not simply accept U.S. racial formation of Latina/os as part of an ethnoracial pentagon separate from those of African, Asian, and indigenous ancestry, but takes seriously the presence of Asian migration between Latin America and the United States.6 Such an approach need not only be hemispheric; it may also encompass the hybrid LatinAsian identities of Filipinos, who have a long history of migration between Asia and the United States and bear the linguistic and cultural traces of a Spanish imperialism...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813589886
Related ISBN
9780813589855
MARC Record
OCLC
993033138
Pages
216
Launched on MUSE
2018-03-06
Language
English
Open Access
No
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