Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture

By Robert G. Lee | Go to book overview

8
Disobedient Citizenship: Deconstructing the Oriental

In contemporary narratives of American collapse and national revival, capital itself is Orientalized. In the contemporary labor market, globalized capital is the new yellow peril that threatens to reduce the American worker to the wage levels of Third World workers. The new identification of capital with foreign cultures, from the Indonesian banking conglomerates to the Korean greengrocer, enables the U.S. to camouflage its own leading role in the reorganization of a globalized capitalist economy. The Oriental is, once again, constructed as the alien agent.

The 1990s embodiment of the Asian American as agent of foreign capital is, of course, John Huang. To be sure, it was only with the blessing of his mentors at both the multinational Lippo Group and the Democratic National Committee that he attempted to arrange the marriage between Democratic party politics and the interests of global capital. This marriage had after all had long been a dream of the businessoriented Democratic Leadership Council, which has dominated the Democratic party since the election of the DNC's founding father, Bill Clinton, as president. The payoff for the Asian American matchmakers was supposed to be a greater voice in the public sphere -- in particular, a voice in the debates on policy issues of critical concern to Asian American communities (such as immigration). This attempt to buy into American politics as a special-interest group demonstrates how limited is the liberal multiculturalist approach in establishing a place for Asian Americans in the body politic. The

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Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface - Where Are You From? ix
  • Introduction - Yellowface 1
  • 1 - The "Heathen Chinee" on God's Free Soil 15
  • 2 - The Coolie and the Making of the White Working Class 51
  • 3 - The Third Sex 83
  • 4 - Inner Dikes and Barred Zones 106
  • 5 - The Cold War Origins of the Model Minority Myth 145
  • 6 - The Model Minority as Gook 180
  • 7 - After La 204
  • 8 - Disobedient Citizenship: Deconstructing the Oriental 223
  • Notes 233
  • Index 257
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