196: Reimagining Asia-America

Instructor: Aihwa Ong

Term: Fall 2019 

Time: M 2:00pm -4 :00pm

Room: 317 Kroeber

How did we get from the "warrior woman" and "model minority" to "Southeast Asian refugees" and "crazy rich Asians"?  How do the imagination, understanding and politics of Asia American and Asian-American shift over time and space? What are the political, economic, and cultural stakes in re-imaginations of what is "Asian" in contemporary times?

Selected ethnographies, novels, and films will be read as dynamic intertwined representations of ethnic identity, subject-formation, and social understanding. While American politics has long promoted ethnicity as a stable signifier, we will consider how intensifying interaction and interconnectivity between "America" and "Asia" are upsetting fixed categories of ethnicity, race, and culture. Asian American identity and subjectivity have become diffused, expansive, and uncertain in the global hall of mirrors shaped by circulating peoples, images, books, and stories.

The seminar is limited to ten (10) upper division undergraduates (juniors and seniors) who will engage in reading assigned materials and discussing them in class. The final paper may include some kind of ethnographic observation that engages themes of projection, comparison, inter-referencing & mimicry in the midst of  proliferating connections and dislocations.

Service category