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Publication Date

2011-04-19

Availability

UM campus only

Embargo Period

2011-04-19

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2011-04-11

First Committee Member

Sandra P. Paquet

Second Committee Member

Frank Palmeri

Third Committee Member

Lindsey Tucker

Fourth Committee Member

Anne-Marie Lee-loy

Abstract

This project seeks to expand Asian American studies and Asian North American studies to the Caribbean/South America by examining works of SKY Lee, Maxine Hong Kingston and Jan Shinebourne. I argue that these writers represent Chinese diasporic experiences by reconstructing Chinese immigration history to the Americas. Although different racial constitutions and different cultural and historical specificities occasion the racializations of the Chinese in these regions, the colonial and neocolonial powers deploy similar mechanism for racializations and cultural politics that favors the dominant. These writers’ evocation of the nomadic female subjectivity that traverses the multiple and shifting borderlands and contact zones in their narratives offers a comparative perspective on the construction of ethnic female identity across the Americas and leads to a critique of the function of (neo)colonial power in identity and social formation in the Americas. Engaging in a hemispheric study of the Chinese immigration to the Americas, this project also contributes to recent scholarship on diasporic studies as it challenges the conventional categorization of global diasporas, specifically Chinese diaspora as diaspora of trade, and destabilizes the homeland/hostland binary with an account of the secondary migrations within the Americas. Drawing on recent scholarship on diasporic, hemispheric and women’s studies, and global Asian immigration, the Introduction outlines the methodology of the project. Chapter one examines Lee’s "Disappearing Moon Café," arguing that in this family saga Lee repoliticizes the marginalization of the Chinese by exploring the relationship between Chinese and American Indians against the broad racial relationships in Canada. Chapter two reexamines autobiography as a genre and contends that Kingston documents anti-Chinese U.S. immigration history in "The Woman Warrior" and "China Men" by narrating her family genealogy, which mirrors the collective history of Chinese immigration to the Americas. Chapter three focuses on Shinebourne’s representations of creolized Chinese experiences in "The Last English Plantation" and "Timepiece" against the background of Afro- and Indo-Guyanese conflicts in colonial Guyana. While Lee and Kingston foster transpacific dialogues, Shinebourne’s works depict the intersecting experiences of Chinese, East Indian and African diasporas. Her works foreground the historical and political connection of Asian indentureship with African slavery as an alternative labor source for the colonial economy in the Caribbean and Latin America and hence make evident the extension of European Atlantic system to the Pacific

Keywords

borderland; female nomadism; ethnic identity; colonial power; neocolonial power

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