Asian/American: Historical Crossings of a Racial Frontier

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This book argues that the invention of Asian American identities serves as an index to the historical formation of modern America. By tracing constructions of "Asian American" to an interpenetrating dynamic between Asia and America, the author obtains a deeper understanding of key issues in American culture, history, and society.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The thesis of this intense and intriguing study is initiated through the slash inserted between "Asian" and "American." Palumbo-Liu (comparative literature, Stanford Univ.) argues repeatedly that the slash, signaling a "split" as well as a "sliding over" between two concepts, is a persistent phenomenon threatening the identity of Asians and Americans as well as Asian Americans. Through the dynamic play of the implied meanings of the slash--inclusion and exclusion at the same time--Palumbo-Liu questions the validity of the notion that Asians are a "model minority." He probes deeply into social, cultural, and political processes to examine how Asians have been assimilated into American society at different junctions throughout history. This is comprehensive and complicated research, recommended for research libraries only.--Mark Meng, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Discusses the origin and development of conceptions of Asian-American identity throughout history and in modernity, with each phase revealing different ideas about the meaning of both "Asians" and "Americans." Palumbo-Liu (comparative literature, Stanford U.) tracks representations of Asian-Americans in literature, examines the legacies of Asian wars in rural American attitudes toward Asians, and explains how the presence of Asian-Americans has historically led to a broader reevaluation of relationships between whites and all ethnic minorities in American society. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"A model of border-crossing scholarship.... Erudite in its range of scholarship and materials, using theory with critical finesse, and moving with ease across disciplinary and area boundaries, ... it should be of relevance to all scholars engaged in Asian American studies and cultural studies, as well as scholars in American, Asian, and Pacific studies."—Arif Dirlik, Duke University

"Passionate, wide-ranging, and serious, . . . an assault on our understanding of America's modernity, . . . highly suggestive for redefining the analytical terrain of American studies."—Aihwa Ong, author of Flexible Citizenship

"Admirably grounded in history, and displaying a critical rigor in historicizing a contemporary reality."—Journal of Asian American Studies

"Only a true comparativist and interdisciplinary scholar could produce a work of such profound insights and erudition. For those well versed in critical race and ethnic studies, cultural, postcolonial, and postmodern studies, Asian American Studies, American Studies, and East Asian Studies, this book signifies the convergence and exemplifies the culmination of the new scholarship and theories that have emerged from these related fields during the past quarter century."—Choice

"Palumbo-Liu's comprehensive study will have lasting value for scholars in this rapidly changing field. . . . Each chapter demonstrates solid historical perspective as well as thoughtful critical analysis and considerable political acumen."—American Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804734455
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 516
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Palumbo-Liu is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Program in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University. He is the author of The Poetics of Appropriation: The Literary Theory and Practice of Huang Tingjian (Stanford, 1993) and the co-editor of Streams of Cultural Capital: Transnational Cultural Studies (Stanford, 1997).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Modernity, Asia, America
1 Pacific America: Projection, Introjection, and the Beginnings of Modern Asian America 17
2 Rescripting the Imaginary 43
Pt. II Bodies and Souls
3 Written on the Face: Race, Nation, Migrancy, and Sex 81
4 Transacting Culture: Bodies at the Seam of the Social 116
Pt. III Modeling the Nation
5 Citizens and Subnations 149
6 Disintegrations and Reconsolidations 182
Pt. IV Placing Asian America
7 War, the Homeland, and the Traces of Memory 217
8 Demarcations and Fissures: Reconstructing Space 255
Pt. V Mind Readings
9 Double Trouble: The Pathology of Ethnicity Meets White Schizophrenia 295
10 Asia Pacific: A Transnational Imaginary 337
Conclusion 383
App Model Minority Discourse and the Course of Healing 395
Notes 419
Works Cited 467
Index 497
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