The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism

The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism

by Rey Chow




Cross-cultural and cross-ethnic transactions are inevitable in our daily lives. Yet the notion of ethnicity as it is currently used is theoretically ambivalent, confusing, indeed self-contradictory, according to Rey Chow. To radically reconceptualize the ways ethnicity functions in capitalist society, Chow proposes that it be analyzed in conjunction with Max Weber's famous theory about the protestant work ethic, especially in terms of the economic and psychological, as well as the religious-spiritual, ramifications of the word "protest."

In her reading of the politics of ethnicity, she examines a diverse set of texts, including the writings of Michel Foucault, Max Weber, Jacques Derrida, Etienne Balibar, Charlotte Brontë, and the Asian-American authors Garrett Hongo and John Yau; the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Marguerite Duras, and Alan Resnais; and the drawings of Hong Kong cartoonist Larry Feign. At every turn, Chow challenges epistemological, disciplinary, and representational frameworks in which ethnicity is at stake in the contemporary world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231124201
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 09/28/2002
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 1710L (what's this?)

About the Author

Rey Chow is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Brown University. She is the author of many books, including Primitive Passions, which dealt with contemporary Chinese cinema and won the James Russell Lowell Prize, the most prestigious book award given by the Modern Language Association. She lives in Providence, RI.

Table of Contents

Introduction: From Biopower to Ethnic Difference1
Chapter 1The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism19
Chapter 2Brushes with the-Other-as-Face: Stereotyping and Cross-Ethnic Representation50
Chapter 3Keeping Them in Their Place: Coercive Mimeticism and Cross-Ethnic Representation95
Chapter 4The Secrets of Ethnic Abjection128
Chapter 5When Whiteness Feminizes ...: Some Consequences of a Supplementary Logic153
Postscript: Beyond Ethnic Ressentiment?183

What People are Saying About This

Dorothy Ko

This book makes me laugh, cry, and think harder than any other. Never an inscrutable Chinese, far more than a protestant ethnic, and always ruthlessly honest, Rey Chow deserves a gold star for taking on the sacred cows of our academic and public lives. This disarming book should be read by all who are concerned with the future of human rights, liberalism, multiculturalism, identity politics, and feminism.

Fredric Jameson

In this wide-ranging, theoretically rich, and provocative book, Rey Chow completely restructures the problem of ethnicity; all future discussions and debates will have to come to terms with it.

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