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Asian American Literature, Criticism and Theory

SUE KIM

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


Extract

Interdisciplinary in nature, Asian American criticism and theory has grown from an initial emphasis on recovering texts by Asian American writers to becoming engaged in central debates in cultural studies. The term “Asian American” is extremely broad, encompassing people of East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern descent. Since its beginnings in the 1960s cultural nationalist movements, the concerns of Asian American studies have overlapped with postcolonial studies (writ large) in examining issues of identity, (cultural) nationalism, transnationalism, and diaspora; the relationship of aesthetics to experience and ideology; the causes and effects of war, colonialism, and neo-imperialism; an ongoing engagement with Marxism and poststructuralism; and gender and sexuality. Asian American writing goes back to the nineteenth century, when writing on Asians in the Americas fell roughly into three categories: anti-Asianists, liberals, and Asian Americanists ( Okihiro 2001 ). Anti-Asianists developed the pseudo-science of eugenics as well as the “clash of cultures” rhetoric that continues to appear in various forms today. “Liberals” in the nineteenth century subscribed primarily to an assimilationist model, in which the racial difference of Asian Americans was seen as a problem, and directed their writing primarily to a white audience. The Chicago School of Sociology ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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