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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.56, No.5, 773 ~ 797, 2010
Performing Inauthenticity: The Crisis of Asian America and Alternative Identity Politics
임경규 Kyeong Kyu Im
This essay examines, first, the possibility and limitation of Asian America as a category of identity and its political and cultural implications through various theoretical perspectives. Here, by closely reading David Mura`s poem "The Colors of Desire," I will argue that "Asian America" as a category of identity is now on the verge of falling apart and its politics of identity is no longer an effective way of fighting back against racism in the US. It is because Asian America is indeed what might be called a historical block, a product of ad-hoc coalition between different ethnic groups historically situated and constructed. In this sense, it is a kind of phantasmal object that is marked by practical absence. This fabricatedness inherent in Asian America as an identity category signifies that it has no essence that is meant to define the group in a transcendental way. The internal totality and coherence of that identity can thus be achieved only by suppressing differences between various ethnic groups and positing a single `authentic` Asian American identity and culture. More dangerously, according to Viet Nguyen, such idealization of a single subject position can reinforces ideological rigidity that might threaten the ability of Asian America to represent itself in a unified fashion. Then, he predicts, Asian America will lose its cohesive force and fall apart. Eventually, every group within Asian America will be ethnicized. The only way of escaping from this bleak situation, as Vincent Cheng argues, is to foregroud the fabricatedness and ad-hocness of Asian America and to perform "inauthenticity," because Asian America is nothing but a functional category that is marked by absence of essence or authenticity. If Asian Americans admit that they have no essence and that they are essentially inauthentic, the practice of performing inauthenticity can become what we might call an alternative Asian American culture and identity.
Key Words
다종족 연합체로서의 아시아계 미국인인, 정체성 정치학, 인종주의, 민족-물건, 진정성, 가짜, Asian America as a pan-ethnic identity, identity politics, racism, Nation Thing, authenticity, inauthenticity,영미문학, 문화연구, 비교문학, 비평이론, English and American Literature, cultural studies, comparative literature, critical theory
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