This special issue of MELUS invites original article-length submissions (6,000-10,000 words, MLA format) addressing the racialization of the Alien/Asian subject in works of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, or other such similarly aligned textual genres. The so-called “Asian” has been the site of multiple anxieties that have marked this subject as the inscrutable immigrant alien (Immigration Act of 1924), the subhuman monster (as embodied by the evil machinations of Fu Manchu), or the eerily agreeable “model minority.” This special issue seeks innovative, dynamic readings on the perennial “alienness” of the Asian that draws inspiration from these historical developments and stereotypes which now cast the Asian as cyborg, robot, alien species, perhaps inhabiting a post-apocalyptic world in which race takes on complicated new formations and intersectionalities.
We broadly define Asian/American narratives and texts. Papers will dialogue with each other through broad theoretical, thematic and analytical methodologies including but not limited to “post” critiques (e.g. postmodernism and posthuman), hybridity and contact zones, allegories of empire and colonialism, cell and tissue theory, materialist approaches that consider scientific studies, new media studies and hypertext, just to name a few. Articles might examine the configuration of dystopic and fantastic futures in texts such as Cynthia Kadohata’s In the Heart of the Valley of Love, Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange and Through the Arc of the Rainforest, Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex, Alejandro Morales’s Rag Doll Plagues, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Hiromi Goto’s The Kappa Child, Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl, Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome, Vandana Singh’s and Yoon Ha Lee’s short fiction, the work of Lawrence Yep, Tess Gerritsen’s Gravity, Minsoo Kang’s Of Tales and Enigmas, the vampire fictions of Cecilia Tan, among many others. Not to be overlooked, we hope to solicit articles that address experimental, avant-garde poetic works that interrogate the Alien/Asian in relation to science, technology, and/or the future such as Cathy Park Hong’s Dance Dance Revolution, Brian Kim Stefans’s Before Starting Over, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s Four Year Old Girl, and Shanxing Wang’s Mad Science in Imperial China. In addition, articles might examine Greg Pak’s screenplay and adapted movie Robot Stories, which uses an almost entirely Asian cast to play overtly with categories of humanity and machinery, while leaving loudly unspoken the representation of race. Alternately, submissions might compare Asian American textual productions with the rich implications of Grace Park’s “colorblind” casting as the humanoid Lt. Sharon Valerii, a Cylon in the current Sci-Fi original series, Battlestar Galactica, or other recent casting choices in LOST and Heroes, television shows which continue to draw on the “Asian” as a participant in a science fictional world in which Americans are black, white, and Latino but never Asian.
Is the literal dehumanization of the Asian Other in actual effect dehumanizing, and/or perhaps (paradoxically) metaphorically enabling? What kinds of permutations to the interracial romance, discourses of hybridity and “hapa” identity emerge from these conceits? Do speculative futures suggest a post-race politic that destabilizes and challenges the grounds of Asian/American Studies?
Please e-mail articles as anonymous word attachments with an accompanying abbreviated 1 page c.v. to Stephen Hong Sohn at: Stephen.H.Sohn@gmail.com by September 30, 2007. Any queries may be forwarded to the same e-mail address.
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