3. Accidents and Obligations: Minority Neoconservatives and U.S. Racial Discourse

Crystal Parikh

in An Ethics of Betrayal

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230426
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235070 | DOI:

Series: American Literatures Initiative

3. Accidents and Obligations: Minority Neoconservatives and U.S. Racial Discourse

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This chapter examines the assimilatory betrayals embodied by the Asian American model minority and by the pocho (the assimilated Mexican American). It turns to Eric Liu's The Accidental Asian and Richard Rodriguez's Hunger of Memory and Days of Obligation, and asks why cultural critics find these works so “objectionable,” while appealing to other ethnic Americans. It considers how, rather than securing the neoconservative politics they are meant to bolster, the texts' queer narrations of self cleave to a past that radically contests a hegemonic discourse of the nation as a deracinated and egalitarian public sphere. The chapter concludes with a reading of Américo Paredes's short story “The Gringo,” which returns to the 19th century, when the divisions between assimilatory whiteness and black separatism had yet to be consolidated. It shows how the historical terms of American racialization will come inherently to throw into question the national allegiances of “alien citizens,” rendering them always as potential “spies” and traitors who must prove their loyalty to the United States by being assimilated to the nation. In doing so, these subjects also always threaten to betray their “own people”.

Keywords: betrayal; diasporic difference; Asian Americans; pocho; neoconservatism; self; racialization

Chapter.  13558 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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