"EURASIAN" COMMUNITIES AND THE NATION IN 'MRS. SPRING FRAGRANCE'
At the centre, the nation narrates itself as the nation: at the borders, it must recognize that there are other nations on which it cannot but depend.
-- Geoffrey Bennington, "Postal Politics and the Institution of the Nation"
Throughout the twentieth century, the figure of the Asian immigrant has served as a "screen," a phantasmatic site, on which the nation projects a series of condensed, complicated anxieties regarding external and internal threats to the mutable coherence of the national body: the invading multitude, the lascivious seductress, the servile yet treacherous domestic, the automaton whose inhuman efficiency will supersede American ingenuity.
-- Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics
Daughter of an English father and a Chinese mother, Sui Sin Far ( 1865-1914) begins her 1909 autobiographical essay, "Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian," with a memory of hearing her nursemaid tell another nursemaid that the child's mother is Chinese, a revelation that causes the other woman to exclaim and stare. The child rushes home and tells her mother, then the narrator recounts, "My mother does not understand, and when the nurse declares to her, 'Little Miss Sui is a story-teller,' my mother slaps me" (218). 1 The incident prefigures the adult Sui Sin Far's relation to her world and trade: the dual connotations of "story-teller"--as creative force or as liar--signaling both the writer