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198 Epilogue The Future of Bilingual Brokering In the above chapters I have tried to show how Asian American and Latino writers have tried to create a home in literary English and how such efforts register the flexibility of language to either index exceptional belonging or suggest nonbelonging. In the climate of postwar capitalist developments within which immigration from Asia and Latin America took place, I have argued that English is not only a sign of cultural capital for immigrants and their children but that it becomes a core element of human capital in the racialization of new immigrants. Against the narrative of liberal progress that suggests a movement from exclusion to inclusion as the normative social belonging for people of color in the United States, the texts I have examined above show much more nuanced and multilayered views on belonging and point to exclusion and inclusion as not a one-time happening but a spectrum of social existence. As was the case with most of US history , English continues to be the proof of assimilation and belonging; yet I have focused on the unique cultural politics of bilingualism in postwar America to suggest that the postwar tides of cultural changes contain the social valorization of particular forms of bilingualism that accords with possessive individualism. Against the narratives of English dominance or heritage language celebration, I have tried to show that the significance of bilingual personhood actually lies in the capacity to reflect a regime of racialization where selective inclusion based on one’s demonstrated human capital is pervasive. The literary representations of bilingual personhood I have examined above draw upon the structure of feeling of this regime of racialization. Epilogue 199 David Henry Hwang’s recent play, Chinglish, which was on Broadway in 2011, is a good text for thinking about the cultural politics of bilingualism in the twenty-first century because the play queries the meaning of bilingualism for a white American man, a representative of middle America. Chinglish tells the story of Daniel Cavanaugh’s education in Chinese business practices. Owner of a small business called Ohio Signage, Daniel hires a self-styled business consultant and longtime resident of China, Peter Timms, to help him win the bid for the signs for a new arts center in the small city of Guiyang in China. Peter’s connection to Cai, the cultural minister of Guiyang, proves futile when Daniel and Peter find out that Cai had already decided to give the job to his sister-in-law. Yet Daniel’s business venture is saved when he gets entangled in the vice cultural minister’s intricate scheme to oust Cai from the office of the cultural minister. Initially it seems like the Vice Cultural Minister, Xi Yan, is helping Daniel out of a romantic interest as the affair between Daniel and her heats up despite the language barrier. Yet the final turn in the play reveals that Daniel’s expectation of leaving his wife and getting together with Xi has been entirely misguided as Xi was actually helping Daniel’s business win the bid to ultimately advance her husband’s career and prospects. Most of the play’s drama and humor evolve around the mistranslations that take place in the process of Daniel’s pursuit of the job. In the play, mistranslation is dramatized at multiple levels, from the mistranslation between languages, which makes for many instances of humor in the play, to the mistranslation of cultural cues and attitudes. It is worth returning to Chapter 2’s discussion of the congressional debates on the Bilingual Education Act in light of Hwang’s play, which thematically brings together American business interests and bilingualism, a combination that piqued the interests of many participants of the congressional debates. Hwang’s play shows a world where the realization of bilingual education, at least in the idealized ways in which it was imagined and discussed in Congress, was unsuccessful as Daniel faces the challenge of monolingualism in Guiyang and almost fails to broker the business deal. While the primary constituency of bilingual education was certainly children from nonEnglish -speaking households, the appeal of bilingual education for the participants of the discussion was that it was a form of cultural capital for everyone, including white American students who would grow up to face a global economy. The world of US-China relations in Epilogue 200 Chinglish shows this global economy to be a current reality; the play seemingly suggests that the predictions of bilingualism...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780823275335
MARC Record
OCLC
976434186
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-28
Language
English
Open Access
No
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