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Theorizing Asian America

Lingyan Yang, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In Theorizing Asian America Lingyan Yang articulates the urgently needed theory, politics, methods, and ethics of Asian American Feminist Cultural Criticism and Literature in the global and diasporic context, turning every theoretical aporia into political possibilities and every political impossibility into theoretical contestations. Yang compares and connects the texts and thoughts of the Asian American and the Asian diasporic postcolonial women intellectuals, which have inaugurated, defined, shaped and re-directed the intellectual history of Asian America, the inter-disciplinary history of Asian American Studies, and the feminist history of theorizing Asian American women and Asian American women theorizing. She defines Asian American and Asian diasporic women's cultural criticism and literature in English as that which is authored by North American women intellectuals and writers of Asian origin, specifically East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian American and Asian diasporic, who were born in or have immigrated to, migrated to, or resided in North America, whose works have been published by, consumed by and circulating in the First World. On the disputed nationality of Asian American Studies, Yang questions Asian American cultural nationalism's problematic binary between the domestic Asian America and the global and diasporic postcoloniality. She re-conceptualizes the limits and boundaries of the idealism of Asian American communities by exposing the complicity between the logos of the community and the logos of the racialist, gendered and classed capitalist nation through reading Kogawa's Obasan and Ghosh's The Shadow Lines. Drawing from Foucault, Gramsci, Spivak and Said, she is the first to articulate a worldly Asian American feminist intellectual ethics. Writing about a wide range of critical possibilities and contradictions, Yang raises the important questions on interdisciplinarity, institutionalization, community, and representation, taking neither theory nor politics lightly. She insists on the inclusive, engaged, progressive, decolonized and feminist humanism in theorizing the unsettling relationships between theory and politics, theory and practice, theory and minor/other discourses. Theorizing Asian America will be a unique contribution to contemporary critical cultural theories in general, and Asian American cultural criticism, postcoloniality, feminist theories, diaspora and ethnic studies in particular.

Subject Area

British and Irish literature|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Yang, Lingyan, "Theorizing Asian America" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9988855.