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Though violence is endemic to the founding of the US nation-state, this chapter focuses on the violence inflicted on certain types of individuals following the attacks of September 11, 2001 that set in motion the USA’s “global war on terror.” Through engaging poems, novels, and plays by South Asian, Arab, and Muslim American writers, this chapter seeks to answer three basic questions. (1) In the period after September 11, 2001, which subsets of the US population have been deemed most problematic, and why? (2) Is there political and popular will to imagine these populations as welcome members of the US body politic? (3) How can these populations be envisioned as important and productive additions to the nation, and what is the advantage of so doing? The chapter argues that a perpetual state of suspicion and hostility against certain groups of people weakens a nation and slowly erodes those bonds of “imagined community” that give a country its strength and resolve. To be in a state of high alert, to be always primed for conflict, depletes a nation’s resources and distracts it from focusing on the future. The literary texts reveal that negative emotions attenuate a nation’s capacity to imagine a future that is generative and enriching, and, instead, trap the nation in a never-ending cycle of fear, watchfulness, and mistrust of residents.
The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature presents a comprehensive history of the field, from its origins in the nineteenth century to the present day. It offers an unparalleled examination of all facets of Asian American writing that help readers to understand how authors have sought to make their experiences meaningful. Covering subjects from autobiography and Japanese American internment literature to contemporary drama and social protest performance, this History traces the development of a literary tradition while remaining grounded in current scholarship. It also presents new critical approaches to Asian American literature that will serve the needs of students and specialists alike. Written by leading scholars in the field, The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature will not only engage readers in contemporary debates but also serve as a definitive reference for years to come.
The influence of the first-wave playwrights on contemporary Asian American drama has been substantial and enduring. Themes of history, autobiography, assimilation, and racism usually associated with first-wave playwrights would continue to be dramatized and investigated by second- and third -wave playwrights. Starting in the late 1990s, third-wave playwrights began to debut in theater in large numbers. The plays by third-wave Asian American playwrights reflect the overall trend in contemporary American drama, which emphasizes experimentation in form and social issues in content. Many American plays since the 1990s have been about politics of race, gender, and sexuality. In the twenty-first century, Asian American playwrights have increasingly found inspiration in popular culture, avant-garde performance, social media and the effects of globalization. Asian American plays can be seen in multiple cities in the country, and the range of genres, styles and topics varies as widely as the growing diversity of Asian Americans.