Drawing Dividing Lines: An Analysis of Discursive Representations of Amerasian "Occupation Babies"

By Maclear, Kyo | Resources for Feminist Research, Winter 1994 | Go to article overview

Drawing Dividing Lines: An Analysis of Discursive Representations of Amerasian "Occupation Babies"


Maclear, Kyo, Resources for Feminist Research


My initial interest in examining the issues presented in this article began in the spring of 1993, when I first learned of an unprecedented $69 million class action suit filed against the U.S. government on behalf of the 8,600 Filipino Amerasian children left without adequate child support and compensation when the Subic Naval Base was closed in November 1992. As I followed the progress of the lawsuit (noting the dearth of media coverage), it struck me that much of the information North Americans receive about "Amerasians" has relied on imperialist rhetoric and certain patterned representation. The trope of the "marginal" and "tragic" Amerasian, recently showcased in the musical Miss Saigon, appeared as a consistent feature in many of the texts I began to review. As a "mixed-race(d)" woman, I became interested in the impact of these constructions from my own social location. (What does the presence of an Amerasian child do to narratives of "East/West" romance? How were boundaries between "races" and "nations" being naturalized on the site of the Amerasian body so as to re-consolidate white domination and U.S. hegemony?) I became concerned with identifying the weave of stories and images that were constituting Amerasians in such ways as to block other narratives from forming -- narratives that might script new hybrid ways of writing against "race," racism and narrow nationalisms.

Any attempt to articulate an oppositional discourse must perforce interrogate the processes of boundary-making that have sustained such interlocking and overlapping relations of domination as imperialism, militarism, prostitution, racism, and sexism. If, for example, we accept Cynthia Enloe's characterization of military bases as "artificial societies created out of unequal relations between men and women of different races and classes" (1989, p. 2, my emphasis), then I believe it is imperative that we (as North Americans) mount our challenge by investigating the diffuse strategies and discourses that have produced and guarded concepts of immutable "difference." In simpler terms, we must look at how hierarchical "difference" is made so that we can begin to unmake it.

My main objective in this article is to argue that representational practices have been crucial in mediating and naturalizing historically constructed "dividing lines." Colonialism's dividing lines have been perpetuated through media discourse and popular culture. Our task is to understand how common-sense coheres around these normalizing social scripts.

North American narratives of "East-West" romance, remain, for the most part, white and male-dominated imperial fictions. The continent of Asia itself (or herself, since the "East" is often feminized), reduced in its vastness and heterogeneity, provides an oppositional frame of reference for the working out of symbolic dramas of white, male selfhood. The self-edifying discourse of imperialism's triumph over the "Oriental" female is an integral part of the structuring metaphors in these texts. (1)

Yet while sex between "races" is often seen as a necessary extension of conquest, sex between "races," and more specifically, sex between people of two "different" and ostensibly unequal "nations," is never depicted as a good thing. (2) When it takes place, it is almost without exception seen as an unhealthy relationship with dire consequences. Whether it is the portrayal of two "star-crossed lovers" as in the musical Miss Saigon, or the monolithic (and often dehistoricized) depictions of Amerasian children in North American mainstream media as tragic victims of circumstance, the message is clear: unions between "races" are doomed. When racialized boundaries are blurred, biological freaks and psychologically maladjusted social misfits are conceived. Historically, the Amerasian figure has been pitched as a subtle warning of the perils involved in "race"-crossing. The paucity of other story lines makes it all the more important to understand how the one story functions to hold the existing racialized social order in place. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Drawing Dividing Lines: An Analysis of Discursive Representations of Amerasian "Occupation Babies"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.