Diasporic Desires: Narrating Sexuality in the Memoirs of Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Li-Young Lee

Kenneth Chan

in China Abroad

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9789622099456
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206687 | DOI:
Diasporic Desires: Narrating Sexuality in the Memoirs of Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Li-Young Lee

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This chapter deploys Benigno Sánchez-Eppler and Cindy Patton's critical focus to attend to the representation and rhetoric of sexuality and sexual desire within the narratives of two Chinese American diasporic autobiographies: Shirley Geok-lin Lim's Among the White Moonfaces: Memoirs of a Nyonya Feminist and Li-Young Lee's The Winged Seed: A Remembrance. Both Lim's and Lee's texts seem deeply conscious of how sexual desire mobilizes diaspora, and how diaspora, in turn, informs sexual desire. However, these texts also reveal anxieties of how to narrate sexuality in diaspora, particularly in the crossing of national and cultural boundaries, in both cases dealing with ethnic Chinese diasporic subjects moving out of anti-Chinese originating homelands to the United States. Lim uses her Malaysian Peranakan cultural background and her academic intellectual emplacement to analyze her sexual choices, while Lee turns to his Indonesian-Chinese identity and his familial connections to Protestant Christianity to frame his sexual relationship with his Anglo-American wife.

Keywords: Benigno Sánchez-Eppler; Cindy Patton; sexuality; sexual desire; Shirley Geok-lin Lim; Li-Young Lee; diaspora; Protestant Christianity; China; United States

Chapter.  7280 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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