Politics out of trauma: Asian American literature and the subject formation of Asian America
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This dissertation unravels the complex relationships between trauma, politics, and the subject formation of Asian America in order to challenge the assumption that the subject's experiences define the political grounds of representation. The category of Asian American, which was contrived during the civil rights movement, has never produced the homogeneous identity of Asian America as the cultural nationalists imagined. Asian America has repeatedly negotiated both its discrepancy from and interpellation into hegemonic (White) America. Traumatic events such as the Philippine-American War, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992, and 9/11 have altered the formations of nationhood that redefine the relations among Asia, the U.S., and Asian America. Writers such as Japanese Americans John Okada, Perry Miyake, and Karen Tei Yamashita, Filipino American Jessica Hagedorn, Korean American Nora Okja Keller, and Vietnamese Americans Lan Cao and lê thi dien thúy directly or indirectly deal with these historical traumas. These writers' texts challenge the homogeneous U.S. official memory of the traumatic events through their rewritings. This dissertation argues that trauma does not bring a crisis for minority politics by simply destroying the subject. Rather, it offers a dynamic chance to problematize the foundations of politics itself, which has naturalized a uniform subject as the enunciating site for political representation.