Abraham Verghese’s My Own Country demonstrates the density and complexity of the entangled relationship between racial identity and professional identity in the sensitive context of the AIDS epidemic. Verghese appropriates the model minority myth to interpret his own lived experience as a foreign doctor in the early stage of the epidemic. Verghese’s narrative addresses the double bind accompanying the model minority myth: the acknowledgment of a “minority” status, or rather his otherness in order to fit into the rubrics of the model minority myth; and the desire for acceptance as a full-fledged member of the Southern society, which inevitably leads to his resistance or denial of his minority status. Verghese’s horizontal affiliation with the hidden “problem community” of gay men and those suffering from AIDS and the eventual collapse of this affiliation lead him to recognize that there is no essential difference between the “model minority” and “problem minority” within the dominant hegemonies of whiteness, heterosexuality and healthiness.


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pp. 426-439
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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