Imagining the Nation: Asian American Literature and Cultural Consent
Author: David Li
This book seeks to identify the forces behind the emergence of Asian American literature and to explore both the unique place of Asian Americans in American culture and what that place says about the way Americanness is defined. David Li focuses on how the sense of the nation is disseminated through the practice of reading and writing, and he argues that Asian American literature is a productive discursive negotiation of the contemporary contradiction in American citizenship. By analyzing the textual strategies with which literary Asian America is represented, the book shows how the “fictive ethnicity” of the nation continues to exert its regulatory power and suggests how we can work toward a radical American democratic consent.
Imagining the Nation integrates a fine appreciation of the formal features of Asian American literature with the conflict and convergence among different reading communities and the dilemma of ethnic intellectuals caught in the process of their institutionalization. By articulating Asian American structures of feeling across the nexus of East and West, black and white, nation and diaspora, the book both sets out a new terrain for Asian American literary culture and significantly strengthens the multiculturalist challenge to the American canon.