Viet Thanh Nguyen

in Race and Resistance

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195146998
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199787890 | DOI:

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This chapter argues that contemporary Asian American intellectuals, who prefer to see themselves and the objects of their inquiry as bad subjects, are haunted by the specter of the model minority. While model minority discourse allows for the inclusion of Asian Americans in American society at the cost of concessions to the legitimacy of American pluralism, the discourse of the bad subject allows for opposition to the hegemony of pluralism and capitalism, but at the cost of an inability to recognize meaningfully ideologically contradictory Asian Americans. The result of such a refusal is the failure of Asian American intellectuals to confront the transformation of Asian American identity into a commodity. The discourse of the bad subject also prevents Asian American intellectuals from seeing how they also practice interpellation, not only hailing those they identify as Asian Americans — who may think of themselves otherwise — but also hailing them to behave in particular ways as Asian Americans.

Keywords: Asian American; bad subject; capitalism; commodity; discourse; hegemony; intellectuals; interpellation; model minority; pluralism

Chapter.  14785 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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