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Pledging transnational allegiances: Nationhood, selfhood, and belonging in Jewish American and Asian American immigrant narratives

Cathy J Schlund-Vials, University of Massachusetts Amherst


"Pledging Transnational Allegiances: Nationhood, Selfhood, and Belonging in Asian American and Jewish American Narratives," represents a comparative study of immigrant fiction that traces its development over the course of the twentieth century. The use of Jewish American and Asian American writers occurs because of past and contemporary scholarly connections made between the two groups, which include their respective status as model minority subjects within the larger U.S. body politic. Moreover, with regard to immigration legislation and dominant-held ideas about the immigrant body, the two groups share histories of exclusion and inclusion. The narratives examined in "Pledging Transnational Allegiances" are inflected with global sensibilities that traverse both countries of origin and countries of settlement. Thematically speaking, what links authors as diverse as Abraham Cahan, Sui Sin Far (Edith Maude Eaton), Israel Zangwill, C.Y. Lee, Mary Antin, Gish Jen, Nechama Tee and Luong Ung to one another is that each writer examines the ways in which citizenship is not necessarily the product of assimilation but rather the unstable outcome that occurs through the constant re-imagining of transnational affiliations vis-à-vis dominant-held notions of nationhood and selfhood. Concomitantly, these authors negotiate the complicated matrix of sociopolitical belonging through a particular trope of naturalization (the public process by which an immigrant obtains citizenship in the country of settlement). "Pledging Transnational Allegiances" moves the scholarly consideration of immigrant narratives from static and unilateral classifications (e.g. as stories of exodus and deliverance, narratives of rebirth, tales of melting-pot assimilation, and dramas of generational conflict) to a more politicized and multisided discussion of diaspora and ideological border crossings.

Subject Area

American studies|American literature

Recommended Citation

Schlund-Vials, Cathy J, "Pledging transnational allegiances: Nationhood, selfhood, and belonging in Jewish American and Asian American immigrant narratives" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3242114.