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Chapter 7 - Cross-racial Solidarities and Asian American Literature

from Part II - Politics, Art, and Activism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2021

Asha Nadkarni
Affiliation:
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials
Affiliation:
University of Texas, Austin
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Summary

Instead of assuming it as a given or an inherent good, this chapter examines cross-racial solidarity in Asian American literature through an emphasis on what historian David Roediger calls “productive uneasiness over solidarity.” It focuses on three flashpoints of racial consciousness: (1) post-civil rights reckonings of Japanese American incarceration, (2) the cultural nationalist search for Asian American identity, and (3) reflections on the Asian American social and political position after the 1992 Los Angeles uprising. These flashpoints encouraged Asian American writers to envision commonalities across racial difference and notice singularities that bespeak the construction of Asian racial difference. Asian American literature’s “productive uneasiness over solidarity” appears in the process of seeing and articulating these commonalities and singularities, not as fixed products but as fluctuating and shifting processes. As writers ask probing questions about Asian American identities and identification, Asian American literature brings into focus both a historical Black–white racial binary and a new but vexing multiculturalism as the fulcra of imagining cross-racial solidarity.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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