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Constructing Chinese Americans' National Identity

Reading Kingston's Texts

By (author) Wu Na
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Reardon Publishing, Cheltenham, United Kingdom
Published: 25th Nov 2003
Dimensions: w 111mm h 210mm
ISBN-10: 1873877641
ISBN-13: 9781873877647
Barcode No: 9781873877647
Abstract; This book is a three-faceted examination of the subject, a study of Chinese Americans' experience in White dominant America, an exploration of the discourse of American identity and a careful analysis of Kingston's texts that account for the construction of American identity for Chinese Americans. Although Kingston's texts have been discussed at great length from the angles of pedagogical materials, genre, textual and historical studies, this study attempts a different way of understanding her texts as a whole by examining her strategies of constructing American national identity for the Chinese American community, as I believe that her double-consciousness of national identity has greatly shaped the structuring of her ideology and philosophy which have been woven into her texts such as The Woman Warrior (1976), China Men (1980) and Tripmaster Monkey (1989). Organized around the central theme of how Kingston constructs Chinese Americans' national identity, this study includes specific considerations of issues such as Chinese Americans' experiences in the United States, Kingston's experiment with American English, her reconstruction of American history and myths, and her celebration of ethnic and cultural hybridity. Each of these topics is approached from critical perspectives ranging from traditional analysis to the field of cultural studies. This book, first of all, traverses Chinese immigration history in America and raises questions about the nature of emigration practice in America. It does not only seek to provide a comprehensive historical context to appreciate Kingston's texts but also meditates on the cultural, economical and political complexity of Chineseness in the White dominant American society in general. Then, with the application of Mikhail Bakhtin's notions on language, Roland Barthes's conceptions of myth and postcolonial theories like Edward Said's Orientalism, Robert Young's argumentation on history and Homi Bhabha's hybridity, this study analysizes Kingston's articulation of Chinese Americans' experiences by reworking with American English, remapping American history by positioning her ancestors as subjects in the American national entity, reinventing American myths with the insertion of Chinese myths into the American mythological body and redefining American identity as hybridity so as to gain a place in American cultural terrain for the whole Chinese ethnic group. While exploring Kingston's strategies of challenging the conventional assumptions on American language, history, myths and hegemonic definitions of American identity, this study not only reveals that Chinese Americans have been historically excluded from American mainstream culture, but also manifests that they have to prove, actively and consistently, that they are not the inferior beings that their status as second-class citizens declares them to be, otherwise their buried stories might never be unearthed and their pride never established. While impressed by Kingston's effort to subvert the binary of European Americans and Non-European Americans, the authoress points out that Kingston is constructing another binary of Americans and Non-Americans. By making inquiries into the nature of Chinese Americans' existence in white racist America, this study concludes that Chinese Americans' American national identity will have to be in constant re-construction by persistent negotiations within ever changing political, economical and cultural context.

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