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Book Chapter

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Asian American Literature In Transition, 1965–1996


Using diaspora as a framework for reading Asian American literature expands the geographical and temporal contours of what it means to be Asian American. Although late-twentieth-century US popular culture was marked by multicultural ideologies of American citizenship, “diaspora” captures another way of thinking about Asian Americans: as immigrants who are subject to multiple projects of nationalism, and who embody diverse forms of citizenship. Whereas writers like Bharati Mukherjee reproduce dominant ideologies of US exceptionalism and multicultural citizenship, for writers such as Meena Alexander, the production of diasporic locality ripples across generations, as she ties together South Asia with North America, the Middle East with Europe. Rewriting immigration as a story of diaspora emphasizes the social, economic, political, and psychic ties that immigrants construct to Asia and to the Americas. Diaspora thus reconfigures who and what we know as “Asian American,” moving away from linear narratives of departure and arrival, towards transnational categories of belonging and citizenship.

Published By

Cambridge University Press


A. Nadkarni and C. J. Schlund-Vials


This material has been published in Asian American Literature in Transition, 1965–1996, edited by Asha Nadkarni and Cathy J. Schlund-Vials. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © 2021 Cambridge University Press.

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