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B o o k R e v i e w s 3 6 1 East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture. Edited by Shilpa Dave, LeiLani Nishime, and Tasha G. Oren. New York: New York University Press, 2005. 382 pages, $22.00. Reviewed by Joel M iyasaki University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign One of the most important roles of Asian American studies is to debunk the idea that Asian Americans play the role of the perpetual “other” in American society. Asian Americans exercise agency, and this agency appears often in mediums of popular culture. In this boom time of Asian American cultural pro­ duction, it befits the academy to evaluate Asian American cultural influences as they move from the fringe to the mainstream of popular studies. In East Main Street, editors Shilpa Dave, LeiLani Nishime, and Tasha G. Oren have organized a collection of seventeen essays that engage some of the most fascinating debates in present-day Asian American studies. East Main Street’s editors claim that Asian American studies’ traditional paradigms have often shied away from acknowledging the group’s immigrant origins and ethnic diversity. The essayists in East Main Street remedy these parochial weaknesses by moving the discussion of Asian American popular culture outside national borders, conventional canons of cultural expression, and ethnic exclusivities. The result is an eclectic group of essays organized roughly into sections focused on the global interchange of popular culture, the affects of history on popular culture, and how popular culture affects ethnic identity. Spatial limits make it impossible to adequately discuss the diversity of scholarship represented in these brilliant essays, but this review will highlight a few demonstrative offerings. In addressing the globalization of culture, Sunaina Maira argues that rave culture not only allows suburban youth to imbibe orien­ tal exoticism but also gives Asian American youth a medium to invent cultural traditions. In the section on history and popular culture, Victor Bascara claims that the unusual domestic relationships that existed in Filipino bachelor com­ munities— men in these communities created unique domestic roles for them­ selves in the absence of women— offer opportunities for queer analysis and popular representation. In another essay, Hiram Perez purports that mainstream popular culture has stolen Tiger Woods’s “Asianness” in order to hide a historic legacy of racial intolerance toward Asian miscegenation. The final section on identity construction and popular culture contains the editors’ offerings for the collection. Nishime offers an explanation about how part-Asian actors who deceptively play white characters, such as Keanu Reeves and Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk, open the possibility for alternative racial and queer readings of movies and television programs. Dave argues that the character of Abu on The Simpsons represents an example of “brown voice”—a racial accent reifying or complicating racial constructions. Oren specifies how popular depictions of Asian American anger in movies, such as Better 3 6 2 W e s t e r n A m e r i c a n L i t e r a t u r e F a l l 2 0 0 6 Luck Tomorrow, and comic strips, such as “Secret Asian Man,” allow Asian Americans to transcend stereotypes and create a more realistic space for themselves in popular depiction. East Main Street creates its own relevance by touching on an abundance of cultural mediums and themes. Scholars of film, literature, the Internet, music, and history can all find essays in which to sink their teeth. More important, this book is a must-read for scholars of Asian American popular culture because it imagines the field in so many creative and complex ways. Individuality Incorporated: Indians and the Multicultural Modern. By Joel Pfister. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004- 340 pages, $84.95/$23.95. Reviewed by Linda Lizut H elstern North Dakota State University, Fargo In Individuality Incorporated: Indians and the Multicultural Modem, Joel Pfister claims as his subject the making of the individual self. It would be more accu­ rate to say that he is investigating the historical change in the popular ideology of individuality and how this change, the result both of Freud’s radically new insight into depth psychology and the shift from producer-oriented to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 361-362
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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