Lee, Rachel C. “Introduction.” The Americas of Asian American Literature. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999. 3-16. Print.
In the “Introduction” of her book, Lee asserts that the critical tendency to merely focus on how “America” is conceived and represented in Asian American fiction obscures other significant themes these authors address, namely, gender and sexuality. Lee locates this problematic trend as stemming from the historical tension between “feminism and ethnopolitical critique.” She argues that the project spearheaded by Frank Chin and Jeffrey Paul Chan to “recuperate Asian American manhood” against white racist, imperialist emasculation has essentially closed off discourse about Asian American women or at least ascribed them as subservient topics for critical analysis. Lee emphasizes that the expense of reclaiming Asian male masculinity is often the oppression and exploitation of women (not only by the dominant white society but also through acts of intra-racism and -sexism), whose plight has been largely rendered invisible and needs to be urgently examined.
Lee adopts a “New Americanist” critical framework that explores “America” beyond the rigid boundaries of the U.S. nation-state, “in a broader context, in hemispheric, regional, and global terms” (4, 5). But while she expresses excitement over the trasnationalization of American studies, as more and more scholars are beginning to explore the effects of globalization, diaspora, and postcolonialism, Lee is also deeply concerned about how this new trend may “undermine the vitality of Asian American feminist critique” (10). Because of the deep historical relation between “cultural nationalism” and feminism, as the nation is challenged as a framework of analysis in our ever increasingly globalized world, feminism may once again be relegated as subservient to discourses of transnationalism (11). Lee concludes that one of the primary aims of her book is to establish a framework that reconciles “Asian American gender critique with its new sources in theories of subaltern womanhood and the gendering of international labor” (11). She ultimately strives to examine how these female lives are shaped by imaginings of “America” and the broader flows of global capital.
I read Simone S. Oliver’s article “Who Elected Me Mayor on Foursquare? I Did” from the New York Times the other day and totally had an amazing nerd moment that I just have to share… I’m not a huge techy so I didn’t really find out about Foursquare until literally two days ago, but learning about how this program works and its essential purpose- basically allowing ordinary people like you to become the “mayor” of different sites based on the number of times you “check-in” to an area via GPS on your smart phone- was incredibly mind-blowing.
First, I was shocked by how many people were actually interested in participating in Foursquare (even to the extent of obsession where it becomes increasingly competitive to maintain hold of your mayorship). Then, I thought “wow”- Foursquare essentially grants normal, everyday people the power to claim a title of distinction (i.e. mayor) and to “own” not only a virtual, but a tangible physical site (i.e. your office building, a coffee shop, and even an alleyway). Honestly, I thought it was crazy at first, but it does make sense- we are all craving to possess something (going back as far as the American Dream). Especially with today’s economy some people might not be able to feel the thrill of ownership with anything other than Foursquare. Technology has enabled us to become virtual colonizers… and not even just virtual because we are colonizing actual physical spaces that can be located via GPS. Is that cool or creepy? With the stigma associated with colonizers, do we really want to think of ourselves as such? (This seems to be where the title of “Mayor” kicks in. But then again, while connoting democratic election, it doesn’t actually mean that, as the article title suggests: “Who Elected Me Mayor of Foursquare? I Did.”
Yet, the nerd attack continues… Oliver also makes it a point to emphasize how Foursquare has drawn couples together and created unlikely unions out of competition for virtual/real spaces and after reading about these success stories, I’m beginning to think that I would like to meet someone through Foursquare as well (Unfortunately, I really can’t afford a smart phone on a grad student stipend). However, I do think that it is fascinating how technology is providing new ways for people to find romance, bridging the virtual space of the internet with the “real” world… and I’m sure that is why Foursquare and other online dating sites have become so popular, because honestly, aren’t all of us looking for love?
Well, I think that I should probably stop writing now before I start taking quotes from the article and this short post becomes a two-page article. But hopefully what I’ve written here will start some interesting discussions, especially for you, Sharon, because I know that your current research has to do with technology 😀
So I just finished reading Gish Jen’s Mona in the Promised Land, which was an incredibly funny and all-around great book. Jen touches on really interesting themes such as the constructed nature of identity and what it means to be “American” but one (odd) point that stuck with me was her commentary on love. Not to give away too many spoilers, Mona and her friend Barbara end up falling for a boy named Seth who (initially) adheres to a code of “free love.” He does not believe in boyfriend girlfriend labels or that relationships should be exclusive. In the novel both Mona and Barbara express considerable discomfort and anxiety about this hippie-esque philosophy and yearn for the ability to call Seth their boyfriend. So this really led me to ponder about the implications of love. If we want an exclusive relationship isn’t that similar to claiming our significant other as private property and demanding sole possession of at least sexual, romantic relations to that person? I am definitely not belittling or condemning this form of love (because I would certainly want an exclusive relationship) but doesn’t this make love capitalistic? Also, what would be the alternative? Is free love then a form of “communism”? This was just a random epiphany so I’m really interested in hearing what other people have to say about love? Does reexamining love in the context of capitalism make anyone feel a little uncomfortable?- I know I was a little weirded out by that revelation…