This annotation was written in reference to my paper: “Re-imagining Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker through the National Politics of Global Capitalism.” See my abstract here.
Wang, Ban. “Reimagining Political Community: Diaspora, Nation-State, and the Struggle for Recognition.” Modern Drama 48.2 (2005): 249-271. Print.
In this article Wang critiques the popular notion of diaspora as a liberating movement of peoples across territories, where they can discard their national identities and form relationships with co-ethnic communities across the globe in resistance to the hegemony of exclusive citizenship to a single nation-state. Wang argues that it is wrong to consider diaspora as “independent and self-reliant, freewheeling in a depoliticized twilight zone,” asserting the enduring significance of the nation-state in our current global political economy (250). Wang cites Hannah Arendt’s theory on the rights of man to accentuate the importance of examining diaspora in a political framework. Arendt discounts the notion of inalienable rights because if these rights were truly inalienable man would not need state laws to protect them. Wang therefore emphasizes the importance for diasporic groups to assert their rights through some form of engagement with US politics. Wang also makes an astute observation regarding the ironic history of diaspora. He suggests that “Denationalized people,” whose lives were disrupted by the socio-political upheaval of war and subsequently displaced from their homes are the precursors of today’s cosmopolitan diasporic individuals. Wang demonstrates how this negatively construed loss of political and national belonging has in contemporary terms, been viewed as positive. He ultimately accentuates the need to interrogate this dramatic shift in conception.
For the purposes of my own research I hope to continue exploring the effects of diaspora. I also question the supposedly liberating effects of this movement, because the possession of a diasporic identity still seems hindered by one’s racialized physiognomy as demonstrated in Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker. The concept of diaspora still suggests that individuals do not “belong” in the place they currently reside but rather an “original homeland” marked by race and culture. Wang also questions the shift in emphasis from politics to economy. He emphasizes that politics is the realm for exerting human agency, while in the economic market, human beings are merely reduced to a labor force or considered as a commodity.