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Nguyen- Race and Resistance

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Madiha Shameem

on 13 March 2013

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Transcript of Nguyen- Race and Resistance

Viet Thanh Nguyen Race & Resistance -Resistance and Accommodation as limiting options

-Flexible strategies used by authors and characters to deal with political and ethical issues such as:
-"Panethnic entrepreneurship"- result of dialogue between "democratic struggles for greater racial and economic equality" (4) and capitalism which exploits race (and struggle) Literature and Politics in Asian America "As Marx explains, the commodity remains simple as long as it is tied to its use-value. When a piece of wood is turned into a table through human labor, its use-value is clear and, as product, the table remains tied to its material use. However, as soon as the table "emerges as a commodity, it changes into a thing which transcends sensuousness" . The connection to the actual hands of the laborer is severed as soon as the table is connected to money as the universal equivalent for exchange. People in a capitalist society thus begin to treat commodities as if value inhered in the objects themselves, rather than in the amount of real labor expended to produce the object."

SOURCE: http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/marxism/modules/marxfetishism.html

"For the Asian American intellectual class, it is racial identity as a mode of resistance to capitalist exploitation that accrues symbolic rather than economic capital. In simple terms, we as academics or intellectuals make very little economic capital, relative to something like the world of corporations, but this is partially a function of our investment in the idea of Asian America as a place of resistance to capitalist exploitation. In the case of Asian American studies specifically, while it is obviously a worthy political and intellectual endeavor in many ways, it is also an enterprise of panethnic entrepreneurship within academia, reaping the particular and peculiar rewards of academia by using the symbolic capital of race and resistance. " (5)

Symbolic Capital=Resistance to Capital Exploitation


Race as product= Panethnic Entrepreneurship = Selling Out Critics read for resistance and accommodation only because of the thoughts of American racism.
American Racism:
1. Bad subject to be "expelled" and "punished"
2. Model minority -Ignoring race commodification and panethnic entrepreneurship with in academia,
allows for the disavowal of "uncomfortable contradictions." BODY POLITIC -Used to counter the exploitation of the Asian American body Body used as symbols for issues of race and class
Gender and sexuality--Often used
symbolize race and class -Critics concerned with Demographic Heterogeneity not Ideological Heterogeneity
- Critics feed from American racism and counter by reading resistance as good and Accommodation as bad Because of 1968 movement Asian America self-articulated itself as a diverse yet unified group struggling to obtain racial equality. Crisis of representation
-Who will represent? Defensive posture vs. Offensive posture Asian American identity has become reification- abstract idea which is now an "object" ---> become a commodity

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_(Marxism) Here a financial institution reifies its services as tangible merchandise-like packages. -Asian America commodity not all bad because it helps
Asian America to become a part capitalist America
-The model minority not only helps in entering American capitalism but also enter American politics Problem of Asian American critics lack of recognition of internal differences of power with in the Asian American community, even though they are "against" racial and class hierarchy of the American politics -Filipino and South Asians feel excluded -Promote the literature and validate its usefulness of it to the English department.
Asian American Studies and its institutionalization is built upon capitalism yet it disavows it at the same time.

Symbolic capitalism The trajectory of racial formation and communities This unstable equilibrium is maintained by hegemony by "including its subjects, incorporating its opposition"
-"Bureaucratization" of race ex. civil rights, census and affirmative action. Asian American community itself mimics hegemony with the older immigrant groups of Chinese and Japanese having greater influence than others or class. Goal of the state --Cultural logic of multinational capitalism - "protect and enhance profit"
- Asian America mimics multicultural community to erase its own ethnic differences and become a cohesive community and gain political and economical representation
-May suppress other issues such as class Internal race is demonized by the superiors and subordinate see it as necessity.
-This becomes an "Idealized" commodity This commodity is studied by Asian American Studies, which makes is contradictory because it disavows this commodification at the same time Body politic
Body used to represent Asian America and its relationship to America and its capitalism

This body is a cultural and historical product David Li- Two stages of othering
1. Oriental Alienation- Inassimilable aliens
2. Asian abjection- legally accepted, but culturally inassimiable (foreigners) "Rhetoric of Bodily Denial"-American political and economical efforts to deny the existence of white bodies, instead "unmarked" bodies, in practice are white and masculine thus creating the marked Other. To protect the "American Citizen" against the immigrant legally and economically. Attempts to change the negatively marked body into a positive one. -Semioticization (Body as a symbol) and somiotization (relating of the body) of Asian American bodies in Asian American literature as a way to serves as symbols and meanings at different times in history depending on the attitude of the state at the time Mari Matsuda
Real Asian Americans vs.Fake Asian Americans
-"Asian American Racial Bourgeoisie" from revolutionary origins
-Asian American Racial Bourgeoisie are fake and can not represent Asian America Susan Koshy--De-territorialized ethnicity
-Not concerned with assimilation

Without the narrative of assimilation, Asian American unity becomes fragile Global capitalism has crated a "flexible citizen"choosing citizenship based on economic reasons rather than politics or allegiance to the state
Two groups
1-Moving to maximize capital opportunity
2-Moving out of necessity (poor, undocumented laborers) Divides the Asian Americans into two categories
1. Model Minority
2.Bad subjects

Also displaces "whiteness" because it is no longer following the ladder to American Dream, system of pluralism and gradual assimilation disturbed -Assimilated Asian America's issues of association with these two groups

Symbolic polarization of black and white mirrors model minority and bad subject

Asian American disassociation with "blackness" due to the threatening of whiteness and internal conflicts. 1. Asian American is a diverse community, would it be better to divide the community and study into "ethnic" branches to accommodate to individual ethnic needs and concerns? Based on I-Hotel, do you think Yamashita would agree, why or why not?

2. What if our male characters in the novel were female, how would that affect the body politic of the novel? Asian Americans intellectuals have ignored commodification and disavow its own contradictory practices.
Lack of recognition of diversity and other internal conflicts within Asian America
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