This essay contemplates the current state and stakes of Asian American studies in a “postracial” era by thinking alongside Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. A novel that transports readers to a “minor” world and follows the journey of an unheroic protagonist through a time loop, Yu’s work presses us to confront the future as a deeply compromised time-space. The novel’s invitation to reflect on temporality and the material conditions of life and death, I suggest, offers a point of entry for addressing the material challenges that impact Asian American studies as well as exploring how the field might be reimagined to account for new mechanisms of racialization in the academy. This essay engages the text’s affective imaginary to propose “living unsafely” and “failing purposefully” as critical and pedagogical practices that illuminate the dissident modes through which Asian American studies can inhabit the academy today.


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pp. 213-235
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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