- Editor’s Note
When we began the editorial work of American Quarterly at the University of Hawai’i three years ago, one of our main objectives was to further advance the transnational, comparativist approaches to American studies. The diverse composition of our editorial team, which includes scholars based not only in Hawai’i but also in Canada, Asia, and Oceania, has helped in soliciting and rigorously reviewing such scholarship, especially with attention to transpacific studies. In this vein, from the early phase of my role as editor, it was my hope that we could do a special issue on the place of China in the American imaginary and global realpolitik. We are extremely delighted that two scholars ideally positioned to take on this important project, Chihming Wang and Yu-Fang Cho, agreed to guest-edit this special issue, “The Chinese Factor: Reorienting Global Imaginaries in American Studies.”
From the classic formulations of the American “frontier” and the exception-alist narratives of US Empire, China has been a critical part of the American imaginary, either in the form of the China market, the Yellow Peril, or the Communist enemy. In more recent decades, the rise of China as an economic power and the complex geopolitical formations of “multiple Chinas”—and Donald Trump’s reminder of the transpacific entanglements shaped by layers of imperialist histories—have renewed the relevance of China to American studies. In this issue, the guest editors have brilliantly recontextualized not only China but the “Chinese factor”—with all its heterogeneity, ambivalence, permeability, and imbrication—in the transpacific dynamic. While the place of the United States in this dynamic, as both collaborator and rival, remains a central concern, the particular positionalities of the guest editors and the diverse perspectives and expertise of the contributors enable a much more ambitious and expansive vision of the “Chinese factor.” The issue calls attention to the division between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan sustained by US military empire as well as the limits of the postcolonial model of national independence in addressing the question of indigenous sovereignty. The two forums raise a broad range of theoretical, conceptual, and methodological issues of “transpacific matters” and China in the United States. The geographic scope addressed by the issue extends past Asia and the Pacific to Iowa City, Buenos Aires, and Sahel. The essays explore liminal subjects such as Chinese students, American mercenaries, queer migrants, and a nomadic kung fu master. The [End Page v] disciplinary and methodological tools used by the contributors also range from political science and history to literary criticism and media studies.
The scope, depth, and complexity of the questions addressed and the analysis presented in this issue have far surpassed our expectations. On behalf of the editorial board, I would like to thank the guest editors, Chihming Wang and Yu-Fang Cho, for their dedication to this ambitious project and their gracious-ness in working with the editor and the editorial board. [End Page vi]