"Southwest Asia", Asian American and Chicana/o history and literature in an inter-ethnic con-text
- This dissertation examines how Asian American and Chicana/o ethnic formations develop from a politics of difference beyond the "Asian/American" and "Mexican/American" binaries which for decades have framed critical reflections on these communities. It investigates comparatively the history and literatures of both groups in order to reveal how Asian American and Chicana/o cultural formations emerge laterally across ethnic and national boundaries. Using a transnational theoretical lens, this project illustrates why Mexican diasporas in the U.S. must be understood relative to Asia and its immigrant groups, and its critical focus on foundational Asian American and Chicana/o novels reconfigures the boundaries of minority literary domains by showing how it is they negotiate the particularities of ethnic diversity in order to imagine a self-directed cultural identity. Chapter one maintains that at the turn of the 20th century the U.S. constructed offsetting racial identities between Asians and Mexicans in order to limit immigration, satisfy the nation's low-wage labor imperatives, and to serve U.S. business interests in Mexico. It analyzes comparatively discourses on Asian and Mexican immigration in order to reveal how the U.S. imagined Mexicans as a "model minority" based on constructions of Asians as "illegal aliens." I argue that these discursive representations of Asians and Mexicans culminated in two significant and parallel patterns of migration. One, the vilification and eventual exclusion of Asians prompted an exodus of Chinese workers from the U.S., many of whom made their way into Mexico where U.S. industries based south of the border welcomed the cheap labor they represented. Two, U.S. images of Mexicans as an ideal substitute for excluded Asian workers helped to generate migration flows from Mexico in order to meet the labor demands of the developing U.S. western economy. This chapter shows how the exclusion of Asians corresponds to the first major wave of Mexican immigration into the U.S. Chapter one also illustrates how systematic efforts to exclude Asians in the U.S. contradict the American government's overt support for Chinese nationals in Mexico. I demonstrate how U.S political assistance for Asians in Mexico allowed for their exploitation by U.S. corporations in Baja California and provoked Mexicans living in that region to seek higher wages by migrating north. This chapter concludes by examining how during the Great Depression the U.S. recycled menacing images of Chinese and Japanese constructed during the Asian exclusion era and transferred them onto Mexicans in order to mobilize the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in the U.S. I show how Mexicans replaced Asians as the newest illegal alien whom the nation-state began to reproach on the basis of racial difference, and I reveal how the rhetoric of race that generated Asian and Mexican exclusion culminated in the construction of Asian American and Mexican American communities in the U.S. as "alien" regardless of their legal standing. Chapter two proceeds to illustrate how the historical discourses on race referenced above develop aesthetically in proto Asian American and Chicana/o novels. Using John Okada's No-No Boy and Américo Paredes' George Washington Gómez as my primary examples, I attend to Asian American and Chicana/o reformulations of literary realism in the contexts of what Mae Ngai terms "alien citizenship": Asian Americans and Mexican Americans with proper U.S. citizenship who nevertheless remain foreign culturally and oftentimes legally before the nation-state. I argue that common experiences of alien citizenship between Asian Americans and Mexican Americans generate shared literary vernaculars that seek to represent U.S. history and ethnic identity from a minority perspective. This chapter shows how Okada and Paredes engage and then subvert principles of literary realism by combining a range of genres, modes, and styles--including ethnic folklore, historical revisionism, and stream of consciousness--in order to signify conditions of U.S. racism and to articulate Asian American and Chicana/o forms of historical consciousness. I term this novelistic form "the borderlands of realism" in order to conceptualize the processes of literary genre border-crossings that mobilize Okada's and Paredes' respective stories on Asian American and Mexican American experiences as alien citizens. Through an examination of the formal features of the texts themselves, I show how proto Asian American and Chicana/o novels activate common progressive elements in order to signify shared political and epistemological concerns. Chapter three reads Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street in continuum with early Asian American and Mexican American desires to articulate an ethnic-cultural identity. In these two instances, I explain how the project to constitute a cultural consciousness becomes saliently expressed as an inter-ethnic experience. Warrior and House communicate the imaginations, memories, and daily experiences of a particular ethnic group. Yet in their commitments to represent the dilemmas of everyday community life, both novels articulate cross-ethnic engagements that condition their respective heroine's cultural development. This chapter contends that the cultural identities these two novels imagine are shaped from inside and outside specific U.S. ethnic formations: they are partly molded by the inheritance of a traditional cultural ideology, yet they are simultaneously transformed by heterogeneous currents that derive from everyday inter-ethnic contact at the margins of U.S. society. I argue that cultural and social transactions between various ethnic groups generate the very possibilities of imagining the respective Asian American and Chicana/o self in Warrior and House, and I reveal how formative impulses from across U.S. ethnic boundaries converge in foundational expressions of the Asian American and Chicana/o literary imagination.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Sae-Saue, Jayson Gonzales
|Stanford University, Department of Modern Thought and Literature.
|Saldívar, Ramón, 1949-
|Saldívar, Ramón, 1949-
|Chang, Gordon H
|Chang, Gordon H
|Statement of responsibility
|Jayson Ty Gonzales Sae-Saue.
|Submitted to the Department of Modern Thought and Literature.
|Ph. D. Stanford University 2010
- © 2010 by Jayson Ty Gonzales Sae-Saue
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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