This annotation was written in reference to my paper: “The Productive, Political Power of Love in Nina Revoyr’s Southland.”
hooks, bell. “Loving Blackness as Political Resistance.” Black Looks Race and Representation. New York: South End Press, 1999. 9-20. Print.
“In her essay, bell hooks critiques how students and scholars are more interested and comfortable with discussing “black self-hatred,” how blacks have desired and “tried to attain whiteness,” rather than the possibility of “loving blackness” (10). She emphasizes the need to deeply interrogate and move beyond this “black obsession with whiteness,” which merely focuses attention on oppressive white power structures and hierarchies, in some ways reinforcing their influence over black lives, rather than investing effort to articulate new modes of seeing and understanding the black body that can be truly liberating (11). hooks asserts that the most effective means of combating white supremacy, both external and internalized racism, is for individuals to love blackness, to not simply love themselves in spite of their blackness but because of their blackness. But she also notes the extreme difficulties that lie in the process as the structures of white supremacy continue to “seduce black folks with the promise of mainstream success if only [they] are willing to negate the value of blackness” (17). While hooks admits that black people who accept the status quo and conform to whiteness, will probably achieve greater material rewards and upward mobility, she emphasizes that this conception that one has to deny blackness and black culture in order to attain such levels of socio-economic success will only precipitate a precarious crisis in black identity.
hooks ultimately suggests the need for people learn how to love themselves and how that act of loving can serve as a real form of political resistance because it directly challenges the logics of white supremacist thought, which cast blackness as that which should not and cannot be loved. Revoyr’s Southland takes on this political project, as Jackie Ishida learns how to love herself, her history, her people, and the members of the black LA community who she realizes are also part of her family.
This annotation was written in reference to my paper: “The Productive, Political Power of Love in Nina Revoyr’s Southland.”
hooks, bell. “Revolutionary Black Women: Making Ourselves Subject.” Black Looks Race and Representation. New York: South End Press, 1999. 9-20. Print.
In this article hooks relates her experience at a meeting with several black feminist women. She reveals that her attempt to share her personal narrative of growing up in a “segregated rural black community that was very supportive,” where she was able to develop a confident self image and have a “positive experience of ‘blackness’,” was sharply rejected by the other women who believed their own stories of pain and cruel victimization were more authentically “black” (44). hooks essentially describes a situation where blacks are themselves complicit in trying to contain difference into recognizable stereotypes. They want to perpetuate the image of the suffering, oppressed black woman because that is what society expects and more readily accepts. hooks emphasizes, however, the need to break down this monolithic essentializing narrative to make room for stories of diverse black female experiences. Rather than clinging onto this popular conception of the victimized, oppressed black woman, hooks calls for an acknowledgement of those women who do love and take tremendous pride in their blackness. She asserts that there will only be true progress when black women stop trying to silence those whose experiences are different from their own and start embracing the tremendous diversity within their own community.
Ultimately, hooks suggests that narratives that explore black self-hatred, where blackness is presented as ugly and undesirable, must be replaced or, at the very least, taught alongside positive narratives of black power and pride, because if students are never shown that blackness is something that can and should be loved, how can they begin to love themselves and one another? hooks emphasizes that this act of loving can serve as a real form of political resistance because it directly challenges the logic of white supremacist thought, which cast blackness as that which should not and cannot be loved. In the following paper I argue that Nina Revoyr’s 2003 novel, Southland, takes on and even expands this political project as a narrative that teaches readers how to love blackness, Asian-ness and most importantly demonstrates that love is possible between members of these two minority groups that have been often depicted as highly antagonistic and antithetical to one another.
Kim, Lili M. “Doing Korean American History in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of Asian American Studies. 11.2 (2008): 199-209. Print.
Kim argues that despite the blossoming field of Asian American history in the past several decades, there is a considerable dearth of scholarship in Korean American history in comparison to that produced on its East Asian American counterparts. This dearth, she argues, is perpetuated not only by a lack of interest in grad students to pursue this field, but it also impedes further scholarship due to the difficulty of researching works already produced. Analyzing several works produced on the history of Koreans in Hawai’i, Kim illustrates that the task still remains one of “filling gaps” (202). The same is true, she demonstrates, regarding the invisibility of gender in these narratives. Kim points to the role of literary production, especially memoirs, as an intervention in voicing Korean American women’s experiences. In further examining root causes of the dearth in scholarship, Kim posits that the dominant transnational approach at times leads scholars to place too much emphasis on Korea while undermining experiences in the U.S. Nevertheless, Kim argues that transnational analyses are crucial as international politics constituted a significant role in Korean immigration to the U.S. Due to the significant lack of documentation regarding Korean immigrant experiences, scholars find themselves actually writing in these histories. She concludes with underscoring the urgency of producing these works and documenting Korean American history, along with the many exciting new areas of study available to historians, such as the role of globalization in the changing Korean American landscape.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “How to Bring Your Kids up Gay.” Social Text. 29 (1991): 18-27. Print.
Opening her article with statistics of adolescent suicide rates that are disproportionately higher among gays, Sedgwick attacks the inefficiency of current psychoanalysis and psychiatry in addressing the needs for guiding gay development among children and adolescents. Instead, the field, though it removed sexual object-choice as pathology, equates gender as natural to the given biological sex as the sole form of proper subjectivity and condemns deviance from this gender as a pathological disorder. She critiques the works of psychoanalysts—mainly Friedman and Green—that align gender assignment as essential to a healthy self. She argues that while many people now allegedly adopt a more tolerant attitude towards existent gays, they object to the development of homosexuality among kids and adolescents, which impedes the wish for a world in which gays do not exist. On the contrary, institutions more frequently take efforts to turn these kids away from homosexuality, rather than facilitating their development. In a broader sense, Sedgwick shows that the privileging of essentialist explanations of sexuality among scholars is futile in the hope for the dignified treatment, rather than the interference with homosexual bodies, and that there is ultimately no theoretical safe haven for queers without the affirmation of desires and the need for gay people in the world.
Chin, Soo-Young, Feng, Peter X, and Lee Josephine. “Asian American Cultural Production.” Journal of Asian American Studies 3.3 (2000): 298-282. Print.
Written as an introduction to the journal in 2000, the writers examine the proliferation of discourse around “Asian American cultural production” as a means of re-visioning understandings of ‘culture’ within Asian American Studies. Temporally, this essay is positioned not only at the turn of the millennium, but also as a middle point between Lisa Lowe’s Immigrant Acts and Kandice Chuh’s Imagine Otherwise. Consequently, this piece offers an astute analysis of the distinct linkage between “Asian American” and “cultural production” and affords the possibility of extending upon as well as highlighting the limits of both theoretical frameworks.
Framing ‘culture’ within the discourse of cultural nationalism in Asian American Studies, the writers highlight the three forms in which ‘culture’ now manifest: (1) intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic development; (2) idea about a way of life; and, (3) intellectual and aesthetic activity (271). Asian American culture, the writers argue, is “inherently activist” (271) given its emergence as resistance against dominant images perpetuated by the hegemonic culture, which possesses representational power. Thus, discourses around Asian American culture must always address the relationship to this history of activism. Cultural nationalism was useful in fostering “what [Chele] Sandoval terms an oppositional consciousness” (271; emphasis added) and building a collective political identity. Furthermore, it beckoned an examination of the everyday in a site of creating Asian American culture and also a site in which problematic ideologies are exposed.
In the debate surrounding ‘culture,’ the writers point to continuing tensions between those with a more theoretical basis in striving for disciplinary legitimacy and academic recognition and those who stress the need to connect act with goals of social activism. Asian American culture must then negotiate these multiple visions in order to establish the connection between the aesthetic and political that is necessary to effect social change. The section “The Social Imaginary: Toward a Theory of Cultural Production and Consumption” is particularly apt in conceptualizing the multifaceted players and processes within “cultural production.” The writers stress the need to examine not only the creation of art, but also its consumption. Inherent in the examination of consumption are interrogations of who the intended consumers are and why. The writers beckon us to understand “culture as simultaneously a material and a symbolic production” (273). This notion echoes needs for critiquing disciplinary boundaries, as argued for in an Asian Americanist critique. The writers apply Paul Ricoeur’s concept of “the social imaginary” to frame “Asian American” as a collective of history and practices that influence current textual production (experience). The medium through which this imaginary materializes into experience is the fictive. In what ways can we extend this framing of Asian American culture as “the fictive” in order to rethink Chuh’s urge to read literature as theory?
This annotation is for a paper I am currently writing for my ENGL 391W course at Queens College on Science Fiction. I will be conducting an analysis of the science fictional and magical realist elements in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange and the novel’s implications on contemporary discourses about globalization. See my prospectus here.
Chuh, Kandice. “Of Hemispheres and Other Spheres: Navigating Karen Tei Yamashita’s Literary World.” American Literary History 18.3 (2006): 618-637. Print.
Chuh’s article responds to the compulsion in Asian American literary studies to examine “occluded east-west connections” at the expense of neglecting ties between north and south (618). In order to address this significant gap in critical scholarship, she demonstrates the importance of engaging in hemispheric studies as a means to “look within and among but also beyond the Americas… to challenge the discursive centrality of the US” (619). By exploring this north-south dynamic, in relation to discourses about east and west, it becomes possible for us to reexamine and reconfigure our conception of America as a closed national space and instead examine the “Americas” from a broader, more nuanced perspective of its relationship to other communities and peoples. Chuh claims that Yamashita’s fiction provides the ideal model for considering the “impact of hemispheric approaches on Asian American literary discourse and the impact of Asian American literatures on hemispheric studies” because it does not conform to neat spatial or ideological categories (621). For instance, the “centrality of Brazil” to most of Yamashita’s work rejects normative conceptions of the national spaces often associated with Asian American fiction (620). In the article, Chuh analyzes in particular Yamashita’s Brazil-Maru and Circle K Cycles, which involve significantly different characters, histories, and geographies, from those that I will explore in Tropic of Orange, but many of the arguments she makes about the formation of global communities and identities remain relevant to my project. For instance, drawing upon Alex Woloch’s study, her identification of Yamashita’s characters as “character-spaces,” in which “individual importance and motivation” are relegated to the background “in favor of assessing how their dynamic interrelations… constitute the narrative,” provides an interesting means to interpret the “Hypercontexts” grid that opens Tropic of Orange as well as the novel’s complex interweaving of narrative voices (626). Finally, I would also like to extend Chuh’s consideration of the intersection between Asian American literature and hemispheric studies towards a more comprehensive analysis of how Tropic of Orange’s particular hemispheric and global perspective collapses boundaries between distinct genres and in doing so, intervenes in current discourses on globalization.