87 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Asian America about their New Books

New Books in Asian American Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture

Interviews with Scholars of Asian America about their New Books

    Phillipa Chong, “Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times” (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Phillipa Chong, “Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times” (Princeton UP, 2020)

    How does the world of book reviews work? In Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times (Princeton University Press, 2020), Phillipa Chong, assistant professor in sociology at McMaster University, provides a unique sociological analysis of how critics confront the different types of uncertainty associated with their practice. The book explores how reviewers get matched to books, the ethics and etiquette of negative reviews and ‘punching up’, along with professional identities and the future of criticism. The book is packed with interview material, coupled with accessible and easy to follow theoretical interventions, creating a text that will be of interest to social sciences, humanities, and general readers alike.
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    • 42 min
    Franny Choi, "Soft Science" (Alice James Books, 2019)

    Franny Choi, "Soft Science" (Alice James Books, 2019)

    Franny Choi’s book-length collection of poetry, Soft Science (Alice James Books 2019), explores queer, Asian American femininity through the lens of robots, cyborgs, and artificial intelligence. As she notes in this interview, “this book is a study of softness,” exploring feeling, vulnerability, and desire. How can you be tender and still survive in a hard and violent world? What does it mean to have desire when you yourself are made into an object of desire? What does it mean to have a body that bears the weight of history? Choi’s poetry contemplates such questions through the technology of poetic form.
    “Once, an animal with hands like mine learned to break a seed with two stones – one hard and one soft.
    Once, a scientist in Britain asked: Can machines think? He built a machine, taught it to read ghosts, and a new kind of ghost was born.
    At Disneyland, I watched a robot dance the macarena. Everyone clapped, and the clapping, too, was a technology.
    I once made my mouth a technology of softness. I listened carefully as I drank. I made the tools fuck in my mouth – okay, we can say pickle if it’s easier to hear – until they birthed new ones. What I mean is, I learned.”
    — from “A Brief History of Cyborgs” by Franny Choi
    Franny Choi is the author of two poetry collections, Soft Science (from Alice James Books) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing), as well as a chapbook, Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press). She is a Kundiman Fellow, a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow, and a graduate of the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers Program. She is a Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow at Williams College and co-hosts the podcast VS alongside fellow Dark Noise Collective member Danez Smith.
    Andrea Blythe is a cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast. She is the author of Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch (2018) a collection of erasure poems, and coauthor of Every Girl Becomes the Wolf (Finishing Line Press, 2018), a collaborative chapbook written with Laura Madeline Wiseman. She is a cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association and the Horror Writers Association. Find her online at andreablythe.com or on Twitter and Instagram @AndreaBlythe.
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    • 55 min
    Iyko Day, "Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism" (Duke UP, 2016)

    Iyko Day, "Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism" (Duke UP, 2016)

    In our efforts to comprehend the systematic dispossession of indigenous peoples in settler colonies such as the United States, Canada, Australia, or Israel, the notion that "invasion is a structure, not merely an event," first articulated by Patrick Wolfe, has become something of a maxim for critical theorists. Part of this structure, as Patrick Wolfe described it, was a logic of elimination: after all, the settler must eliminate the native in order to secure her claim to the native's territory. But whom does the Native/settler binary exclude? And what do we fail to understand about how settler colonialism functions, as a result?
    These are just some of the questions to which Iyko Day speaks in her new book, Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2016). Centering Asian racialization in the United States and Canada in relation to Indigenous dispossession and structures of anti-blackness, Day explores how the historical alignment of Asian bodies and labor with capital's abstract and negative dimensions became one of settler colonialism's foundational and defining features. Romantic anti-capitalism, in turn, allowed white settlers to gloss over their complicity with capitalist exploitation.
    In treating Asian North American cultural production as a transnational genealogy of settler colonialism’s capitalist logic, Day does no less than re-theorize settler colonialism itself: Alien Capital pushes us to consider how settler colonialism functions not within a Native/settler binary, but rather as a dynamic triangulation of Native, settler, and alien positionalities. Listen in for the knitty-gritty.
    Nancy Ko is a PhD student in History at Columbia University, where she examines Jewish philanthropy and racialization in the late- and post-Ottoman Middle East from a global and comparative perspective. She can be reached at [nancy.ko@columbia.edu].
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    • 57 min
    Ivan V. Small, "Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam" (Cornell UP, 2018)

    Ivan V. Small, "Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam" (Cornell UP, 2018)

    Overseas Vietnamese are estimated to remit 15 billion dollars annually to family that remains in Vietnam. Ivan V. Small moves beyond the numbers to examine how remittances affect sociality and human relations in his book Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam (Cornell University Press, 2018). Although remittances flow back to Vietnam with relative ease, bodies have more difficulty migrating and tend to remain in place. This condition reorients the gaze towards overseas horizons and opens up imaginative possibilities for labor, expectations about their own country, and desires for physical mobility. Small tracks remittances in Saigon, small coastal towns, and in Southern California, thus producing a transnational ethnography of monetary flows and relations. He notes remittances’ shifting forms from goods, to money, and charitable contributions. Although remittances are often thought of only through economic terms, Small argues that they contribute to ongoing social transformations at individual and social levels.
    Ivan V. Small is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Central Connecticut State University.
    Reighan Gillam is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on race, blackness, and visual representation in Brazil. She is on Twitter @ReighanGillam.
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    • 50 min
    K. Linder et al., "Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers" (Stylus Publishing, 2020)

    K. Linder et al., "Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers" (Stylus Publishing, 2020)

    If you’re a grad student facing the ugly reality of finding a tenure-track job, you could easily be forgiven for thinking about a career change. However, if you’ve spent the last several years working on a PhD, or if you’re a faculty member whose career has basically consisted of higher ed, switching isn’t so easy. PhD holders are mostly trained to work as professors, and making easy connections to other careers is no mean feat. Because the people you know were generally trained to do the same sorts of things, an easy source of advice might not be there for you.
    Thankfully, for anybody who wishes there was a guidebook that would just break all of this down, that book has now been written. Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (Stylus Publishing, 2020) by Kathryn E. Linder, Kevin Kelly, and Thomas J. Tobin offers practical advice and step-by-step instructions on how to decide if you want to leave behind academia and how to start searching for a new career. If a lot of career advice is too vague or too ambiguous, this book corrects that by outlining not just how to figure out what you might want to do, but critically, how you might go about accomplishing that.
    Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to zeb.larson@gmail.com.
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    • 39 min
    Jane H. Hong, "Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion" (UNC Press, 2019)

    Jane H. Hong, "Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion" (UNC Press, 2019)

    Over the course of less than a century, the U.S. transformed from a nation that excluded Asians from immigration and citizenship to one that receives more immigrants from Asia than from anywhere else in the world. Yet questions of how that dramatic shift took place have long gone unanswered. In Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), Jane H. Hong unearths the transpacific movement that successfully ended restrictions on Asian immigration.
    The mid-twentieth century repeal of Asian exclusion, Hong shows, was part of the price of America's postwar empire in Asia. The demands of U.S. empire-building during an era of decolonization created new opportunities for advocates from both the U.S. and Asia to lobby U.S. Congress for repeal. Drawing from sources in the United States, India, and the Philippines, Opening the Gates to Asia charts a movement more than twenty years in the making. Positioning repeal at the intersection of U.S. civil rights struggles and Asian decolonization, Hong raises thorny questions about the meanings of nation, independence, and citizenship on the global stage.
    This episode is part of a series featuring legal history works from UNC Press. Support for the production of this series was provided by the Versatile Humanists at Duke program.
    Hong is an assistant professor of history at Occidental College where she specializes in 20th-century U.S. immigration and engagement with the world, with a focus on Asia.
    Siobhan M. M. Barco, J.D. explores U.S. legal history at Duke University.
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    • 48 min

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