The Sino-Japanese Conflict of Asian American Literature

Colleen Lye

in China Abroad

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9789622099456
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206687 | DOI:
The Sino-Japanese Conflict of Asian American Literature

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Asian American identity can be understood as assuming a certain rhetorical form, this rhetorical form necessarily has a history. The postwar period witnessed an overall expansion of Asian American publishing even before the immigration reform of the 1960s could exert a demonstrable demographic impact because World War II had made intra-Asian ethnic distinctions a matter of political consequence. Inaugurating a new phase of U.S. identification with proxy nationalisms in the Pacific Rim, World War II in the Pacific Theater demanded especially that Americans learn the subtle “difference between a Chinese and a Jap.” The well-known Sino-Japanese centrism of “Asian American literature” may well have a start here, in the World War II constitution of Asian American identity, whose traditional domination by Chinese and Japanese American narrative examples seems to have an ideological force in excess of a numerical basis.

Keywords: Asian Americans; identity; immigration reform; World War II; identification; Sino-Japanese; centrism; Asian American literature

Chapter.  7569 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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