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Card 1

Kim 9 (Chang-Hee, Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Minnesota, Twin
Cities. The Fantasy of Asian America: Identity, Ideology, and Desire (July 2009), advised by
Josephine D. Lee in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate of
Philosophy, submitted to the faculty of the graduate school of the University of Minnesota, //
This dissertation reconsiders how rethinking Asian Americans as subjectless
might be realized not only theoretically but also practically. At stake is how we would
possibly conceptualize the way in which Asian Americans remain so subjectless
literally as to become non-Asian Americans within the national framework of becoming
American. Chuhs argument for conceiving of Asian American studies as subjectless
discourse drives from her rejection of the current uniform formation of Asian America,
which results from her insistent rejection of any forms of nationalism (127). Yet it
should be also noted that this makes its ethnic members un-decidable subjects without
sets of stable differences to identify them in repudiation of ethnic essentialism. My
point is to what extent we could imagine political, if neither national nor racial,
incentives to motivate the un-decidable subjects to collectively combine together, via
not so much identity as un-decidability (83), against the already nationalized and
racialized establishment of American nationalism. Chuhs investment of subjectless
discourse, in shifting Asian American studies away from the identity-based nation of
Asian America, consequently, ends up in self-contradiction. More specifically, it comes
to a stalemate that both the demand for social justice of equating subjectless difference
with equality and its impossibility considering that the U.S. body politic takes on and
exploits racial difference contradict each other. It is not to mention that in such a
colonial context, Asian America is subject to having limited access to full citizenship by
remaining racialized, marginalized, and ghettoized from the mainstream.
Even while disputing the monolithic framework of Asian America in terms of
ethnic essentialism, I object to the radical abstraction of Asian America as a mode of
critique detached from identity-based Asian America. I consider that Chuhs antinationalist
discourse cannot fully replace current identity politics that has been found to
be, as she also puts it, a powerful framework for mounting anticolonial struggles in the

Third World to achieve formal political liberation (127). If she persists in arguing for
the subjectless discourse of anti-nationalism in rethinking Asian America as undecidable,
it happens to downplay anti-colonial struggles taking place in different parts
of the world, including the U.S. territory. As Candace Fujikane points out, Chuhs
subjectless analysis can cause Asian Americans to not only partake in the colonial
practice of the U.S. justifying her quasi-colonial occupation of Hawaii and Iraq, but
also the colonized peoples aspiration for self-determination as a desire to regain their
national territories (FNN 92). In the same logic, despite its known shortcomings, the
cultural nationalism of Asian America still has its validity as an anti-colonial practice
for resisting the quasi-colonial measures of U.S. nationalism: that is, the U.S. excludes
Asian Americans as the permanent alien (colonial subject) and simultaneously, keeps
them within her national boundaries by patronizingly flattering them as the model
minority. In fact, I have discussed Fujikanes criticism on Chuhs subjectless discourse
in Chapter 3 in more detail.
With their scholarships contextualized in different locations, such as Hawaii
and the mainland respectively, Fujikane and Chuh cannot but reveal their incompatible
difference of position applied to the views of their common issue related to the
oppositional politics of Asian America. In fact, there has been a growing concern about
the institutionalization of Asian American studies for its being cut off from the
community despite its achieving greater autonomy and legitimacy in academia (Chiang
29). In reality, when occupying privileged positions in education and class, it is not easy
for Asian American scholars to sustain their political position in opposition to the states
of domination that have nourished their rather privileged status, which belies the public
assumptions on their given ethnic identity. It creates a truly subjectless yet selfcontradictory
subjectivity that at its convenience, gives rise to a kind of guerilla subject
becoming politically salient in the form of either inconspicuous resistance or
With that said, I sympathize with Viet T. Nguyen to some degree. In Race and
Resistance, he criticizes Asian American scholars for being hypocritical. He contends
that while their scholastic status has recourse to radical politics to pose themselves at

the forefront of political consciousness in Asian American studies, they are also
invested in the visibility and value of Asian American literature as the proof of their
own professional usefulness to maintain their career. Particularly, Nguyen focuses on
the positional difference between Asian American scholars who tend to posture
themselves as oppositional and Asian American writers who he argues exhibit in their
works a greater spectrum of ambivalence and flexibility in their representation of Asian
America. He finds this difference ascribed to the contradiction between the radical
intellectual goals of Asian American studies and its institutional location (14).

Card 2

Kim 9 (Chang-Hee, Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Minnesota, Twin
Cities. The Fantasy of Asian America: Identity, Ideology, and Desire (July 2009), advised by
Josephine D. Lee in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate of
Philosophy, submitted to the faculty of the graduate school of the University of Minnesota, //
In the same vein, Fujikane even denounces scholars who are generally in favor
of diasporic identity as a strategic alternative to national identity in the postmodern era
of globalization. In particular, she attacks Arjun Appadurai who praises the global
formulation of [economico-cultural] deterritorialization which she thinks turns the U.S.
into a neoliberal free-trade zone (86). Appadurai upholds the postmodern condition of
globalization in repudiation of white racism by defining the U.S. as a nation of
immigrants, yet Fujikane argues that it not only privileges diasporic subjects over the
indigenous but also neglects the latters anti-colonial struggles. She regards Asian
settlers anti-colonial discourse as a quasi-colonial practice that alienates the indigenous,
for it consolidates their uniform nationalist subject that is purchased at the expense of
articulations of gender or class or queer differences (91).
Moreover, Fujikane opposes trendy scholars who adopt deconstructionist tropes
of difference, displacement, and plurality as alternatives to identity politics, such as
Kandice Chuh. In her Imagine Otherwise, Chuh introduces a so-called subjectless
subject to challenge the staid formation of Asian American identity as fixed,
centralizing, and determineda post-structuralist discourse that relies on difference as

the basis of unification. Her notion of subjectless-ness sounds effective in the

postmodern position of cosmopolitan identity and neoliberal citizenship; nonetheless, it
can be easily appropriated for the ideological as well as material perpetuation of
colonial system in the anti-nationalist paradigm of neoliberal multiculturalism, for it
obscures rigorous colonial conditions of the local.
Fujikanes criticism on Asian American identity politics is founded on the fact
that their diasporic as well as settler identity is privileged as an alternative to the
colonial. She thinks that their anti-nationalist practice that favors diasporic experience
and cosmopolitan subjectivity results in aestheticizing colonial Hawaii as the Paradise
of the Pacific, a virgin soil that needs the protection of Western civilization (Morrow).
Fujikane states:
[Taking] native nationalism as a search for a pristine past, nostalgia for
lost origins, or an appeal to unreconstructed nativist authenticity cannot
attend to the complex politics of particular nationalist claims at specific
moments in time nor to the role of the state in denying Native lands and
identity. (Foregrounding 88)
Asian Americans have struggled to build their identity as a site of resistance against
white racism, and they have benefited from Americas neoliberal politics for democratic
citizenship and consumer culture. In order words, Asian Americans political position is
ambivalent: on the one hand, their settler identity contributed to what Frank H. Wu calls
the perpetual foreigners syndrome. On the other, it became co-opted by American
nationalism, which is congenial to colonial discourse that excludes and depreciates
native nationalism as obsolete and preposterous. As Inderpal Grewal says, the power of
American nationalism lies in its governmental technologies to exploit the precarious
state of Asian immigrants and refugees, and render them provisional national subjects
(8). The identity of Asian Americans, as a result, is double-edged: one side is the yellow
peril or the permanent alien and the other is the model minority.