Identifying and Mapping Issues, Theories, & Research in Asian/American Rhetoric(s): An Annotated Bibliography

Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and “Mail Order” Marriages

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on February 1, 2010

Constable, Nicole. Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and “Mail Order” Marriages

One of Constable’s primary purposes seems to be to complicate stereotypes about transnational correspondence (commonly known as “mail-order”) marriages and relationships, focusing specifically on relationships between women from China and the Philippines, and white men from the US. Constable conducts “virtual ethnography” through “interviews, face-to-face encounters, and Internet communications that span two years or more” with Filipina and Chinese women and their partners (15).  Constable explains that her methodological decisions come in response to more text-based analyses, e.g. of catalogs, ads, and websites that connect American men to Asian women, which tend to be sensationalistic: “[E]thnographic field research can serve as a critique of textual and discursive approaches that overemphasize the sexual dimensions of correspondence courtship and overlook women’s agency” (11).

The larger theoretical work that Constable purports to do centers on the link between political economy and cultural notions of desire.  For example, she says, “I argue against a dichotomous or discontinuous view of love and opportunism that treats pragmatic concerns as incompatible with emotional ones.  I argue that political economy is not simply a backdrop to such a study, nor is it the determining force in creating correspondence marriages, but that cultural notions of love and desire are shaped by political economy” (11). To this ends, Constable discusses how certain assumptions about correspondence marriages affect political institutions; for example, she compares the immigration and naturalization policies and processes of Asian brides and Asian adoptees.  Constable considers adoption a privileged form of immigration, based on certain preconceptions about adoption as a “heroic act,” about Asians as “model minorities,” and about the possibility of natural love between parent and child as being more viable than love between prospective romantic partners.  She further explains that, “The cultural and class differences, as well as the sexuality, of the Asian wife are indelibly inscribed on her adult body, in contrast to the young child, who is viewed, in a sense, as a tabula rasa on which American middle-class values and identity can be more easily inscribed” (212).  Finally, Constable attempts to establish the wider relevance of her work, explaining that, “it is important to view correspondence relationships not as unique, but as representative of many of the issues and concerns raised by the institution of marriage in general” (224).

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Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on February 1, 2010

Rofel, Lisa. Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture. Durham: Duke UP, 2007.

Desiring China “describes how the production of desire lies at the heart of global processes” in the context of post-Mao, post-socialist China after the June 4th, 1989, Tiananmen demonstrations (1). In this way, Rofel draws connections between national economies, public culture, and desire, or individual subjectivities. In sum, she says, “My argument, in brief, is that central to the meanings and practices of becoming a transnational citizen-subject in China is the historical and cultural constitution of ‘desire,’” and she adds, “One of my main arguments is that the construction of this inner self occurs through public allegories” (6).  To do this work, Rofel examines and analyzes pertinent public cultures: the soap opera Yearnings; a women’s museum established by feminist Li Xiaojiang in which gender is commodified (66); transnational homosexual identities; cosmopolitan Chinese identities as constituted through consumption, sex, and fashion; legal cases pertaining to intellectual property; and negotiations over China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, in order to observe how public cultures are simultaneously contingent upon and constitutive of definitions of desire and sexuality.  In other words, this book may be understood as a study of rhetorics of desire via public culture in the context of post-socialist China; Rofel observes how meaning created in certain texts (Yearnings) or spaces (the women’s museum) are mobilized, circulated, received, interpreted, and evaluated by audiences in this specific context.  The notion of transnational desire is fundamental to this text, both for the ways in which China desires and is desired by others: “These economic reform experiments initiated the process of creating ‘desiring China’” (7, 30).

Upcoming entries

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on November 30, 2009

Abelman, Nancy and John Lie. Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997. 

Constable, Nicole. Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and “Mail-Order” Marriages. Berkeley: U of California P, 2003.

Dittmar, Linda and Gene Michaud, ed. From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film. Rutgers UP, 1990. 

Dudden, Arthur. The American Pacific: From the Old China Trade to the Present. Oxford UP, 1994. 

Greene, Graham. The Quiet American. Penguin, 2004. 

Kim, Nadia. Imperial Citizens: Koreans and Race from Seoul to LA. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2008. 

Lee, Jennifer. Civility in the City: Blacks, Jews, and Koreans in Urban America. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2006. 

Lowe, Lisa. Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Durham: Duke UP, 1996.

Palumbo-Liu, David. “Disintegrations and Reconsolidations.” Asian/American: Historical Crossings of a Racial Frontier. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999. 

Park, Kyeyoung. The Korean American Dream: Immigrants and Small Business in New York City. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1997. 

Rofel, Lisa. Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture. Durham: Duke UP, 2007.

Takaki, Ronald. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans. Back Bay Books,1998. 

Thomson, James. Sentimental Imperialists. Harpercollins, 1985. 

Watson, James L., ed. Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia. 2nd ed. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2006.

Introduction to On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Ang, Ien. “Introduction.” On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West. London: Routledge, 2001.

In the introduction to On Not Speaking Chinese, Ang centers on identity as it pertains to the postcolonial diasporic intellectual, “born in the Third World and educated and working in the West,” reflecting on her own experience as a Chinese born in Indonesia, and raised in the Netherlands (1). Of particular interest to rhetoric studies and Asian/American rhetoric(s) is Ang’s notion of hybridity, that space between Asia and “the West”: “‘Hybridity’ captures in a shorthand fashion the complexities and ambiguities of any politics in an increasingly globalized, postcolonial and multicultural world, a world in which heroic, utopian ideas of revolutionary transformation seem seriously out of touch even as sites of social struggle and political conflict have multiplied… Hybridity, here, should not be dismissed pejoratively as the merely contingent and ephemeral, equated with lack of commitment and political resoluteness, but should be valued in James Clifford’s words, ‘as a pragmatic response, making the best of given (often bad) situations…in limited historical conjunctures’. (3) In this way, Ang is particularly effective for grounding discussions of hybridity with rhetorical purpose: “Hybridity is a necessary concept to hold onto in this condition, because unlike other key concepts in the contemporary politics of difference–such as diaspora and multiculturalism–it foregrounds complicated entanglement rather than identity, togetherness-in-difference rather than virtual apartheid” (3).

Welcome!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

To identify and trace the movements of the growing body of scholarship on Asian/American rhetoric(s) as they occur in the larger field of rhetoric and composition and to create a philosophical and methodological archaeology of the field, this blog will serve as an annotated bibliography of texts on Asian/American rhetoric(s).  Stay tuned for more!

Tao Te Ching

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Lau, D.C., trans. Tao Te Ching. New York: Penguin, 1964.

This seminal work in Ancient Chinese Philosophy (and rhetoric) has much relevance for the cultural development in all of the East Asian countries. Beautifully poetic in style, Lao Tzu builds a philosophy for “the way,” communication and living that emphasizes namelessness, silence, inaction, and reciprocity. However, these concepts are oftentimes misconstrued under the lens of “the West”.

Embodiment of American modernity in colonial Korea

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Yoo, Sun Young. “Embodiment of American modernity in colonial Korea.” Francis Lee Dae Hoon trans. The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader. Chen, Kuan-Hsing and Chua Beng Huat, ed. London: Routledge, 2007.

Yoo Sun-Young provides an account of the conditions that allowed for a Korean embrace of American modernity, focusing on the body as a marker of modernity. Of vital impact was the Japanese Occupation of South Korean (hereafter Korea) from 1910 to 1945. Yoo explains that at this time, Korea saw the United States as an ideal representation of modernity, and in the “imaginary/fantastic dimension, America was conceived as the richest nation in the world as well as a gentleman-like brotherly nation that had no intention to occupy, but rather help weak countries to achieve independence, as the most powerful nation in the capitalist world, as the birthplace of Modernism, and as a benefactor to Chosun” (230). “[T]he missionary work by American churches recorded an unprecedented success in colonial Korea, which further promoted the image of America as a benefactor and contributor of Korea’s modernization” (230). At this time, American modernity was inscribed on Korea’s colonial body: “The individual modernization under colonial circumstance was confined to, and carried on, the body level” (225) though heterosexual relationships, individual speech manners, and walking style and bodily movements. In the context of the modernization of the school system in Korea, students “were required to have short hair, formerly a strong taboo in Korea, as well as to replace traditional clothing and footwear with western-style uniforms, hats and shoes. In this context, bodily changes either preceded or concurred with changes in consciousness, rather than the other way around” (227).

‘You are entrapped in an imaginary well’: the formation of subjectivity within compressed development – a feminist critique of modernity and Korean culture

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Cho, Han Hae-Joang. “‘You are entrapped in an imaginary well’: the formation of subjectivity within compressed development – a feminist critique of modernity and Korean culture.” Michael Shin trans. The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader. Chen, Kuan-Hsing and Chua Beng Huat, ed. London: Routledge, 2007.

Cho discusses how the notion of “turbo capitalism,” originally used to describe the rapid swell of capitalism after the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, can also be used to describe the basis for Korean economic success, at the expense of what Cho considers a cultural loss. Cho contends that turbo capitalism has in effect left Korea with superficial cultures as well as an “overwhelming individual adaptability to the status quo” (294), essentially functioning as a neo-colonial ideological structure. In discussing the formation of subjectivity in Korea, Cho also argues that Korean conceptions of patriotism, as displayed in the official discourse where “the nation, the state and the people are one and the same” (Cho 300), is contrary to individualistic philosophies of the West, and is a cause for conflict between the community (nation/family) and the individual.