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Introduction

  • Walter S. H. Lim

Abstract

This study explores how and why different Chinese American authors arrive at their choice of literary subject matter and what this choice reveals about the cultural politics of national identity and belonging. It analyzes the portrayal of the immigrant experience in the United States and also of countries in East Asia and Southeast Asia with their different histories, societies, and cultures. In Chinese American literature, countries such as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore are experienced as well as imagined—experienced because some authors were born in Asia and have firsthand acquaintance with life in their birth country, imagined because all representation inscribes ideological bias. For US-born authors of Chinese descent, Asia is often imagined with the help of parental stories, reading and research, and awareness of US political involvement and military activities in Asia. For naturalized Chinese American authors, Asia is the site of memories, often manifested as nostalgia or as interrogation and critique.

Keywords

Chinese Immigrant Chinese Reader Immigrant Experience Chinese Descent Transnational Mobility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Robin Cohen, “Diasporas, the Nation-State, and Globalization,” in Global History and Migrations, ed. Wang Gungwu (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997), 135.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A consideration of the potential problems for the politics of Asian American studies as generated by a move toward favoring diasporic perspectives is offered in Sau-ling Cynthia Wong, “Denationalization Reconsidered: Asian American Cultural Criticism at a Theoretical Crossroads,” Amerasia Journal 21 (1995): 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Arif Dirlik registers this point in “Asians on the Rim: Transnational Capital and Local Community in the Making of Contemporary Asian America,” in Across the Pacific: Asian Americans and Globalization, ed. Evelyn Hu-DeHart, 29–60 (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1999). In his reading of the relationship of diasporic ideology to the conditions of globalization, Dirlik highlights the point that the ideological coherence implied in the umbrella rubric “Asian American Studies” is, in reality, complexified by the inclusion of new immigrants from different Pacific Rim countries into American life. First of all, these migrants are not all affluent. Furthermore, not all share the basic premises of social and cultural existence embraced by those who subscribe to the idea of an “Asian America.” Conflicts can readily be generated from the fact of differing ethnicities, varying dialect groups within a specific racial community, and the ubiquitous politics of class. For further discussion of transnational and national paradigms in Asian American literary studies, seeGoogle Scholar
  4. Rachel C. Lee, The Americas of Asian American Literature: Gendered Fictions of Nation and Transnation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999) Also offering a sustained critical consideration of the place of gender and sexuality in Asian American writings, with support given to feminist literary criticism, Lee expands the ambit of her critical consideration to embrace the politics of subaltern womanhood, international labor, and the flow of global capital..CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 4.
    Jarrod Hayes, “Queering Roots, Queering Diaspora,” in Rites of Return: Diaspora Poetics and the Politics of Memory, ed. Marianne Hirsch and Nancy K. Miller, 72–87 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 74.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Steven G. Yao, Foreign Accents: Chinese American Verse from Exclusion to Postethnicity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Walter S. H. Lim 2013

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  • Walter S. H. Lim

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