As Edward W. Said noted in his groundbreaking study, Orientalism, the Asian is the eternal "other." Asian Americans, whether immigrants or native born, are subject to a variety of overlapping stereotypes that label them as "not American." What is "American" and what is not is defined in part by popular culture. In Orientals, Robert G. Lee analyses a broad range of artifacts of American pop culture--from silent films to blockbuster movies, popular magazines to pulp fiction, and stage dramas to 19th-century songs--to reveal the history of these definitions.
Lee identifies six representations of Asian Americans--the pollutant, the coolie worker, the deviant, the yellow peril, the model minority, and the gook--and notes how, when, and why they emerged. As Lee notes, "each of these representations was constructed in a specific historical moment, marked by a shift in class relations accompanied by cultural crisis." For example, the image of the subservient "coolie" emerged as an undercutting threat to the developing white working class in the 1870s and 1880s, while the image of the Asian as model minority appeared in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s and was held up to African Americans and Latinos as a "successful case of 'ethnic' assimilation" and a model for nonpolitical upward mobility. Well illustrated throughout, Lee's impressive study uses the Asian American experience as a window through which to examine what makes a person a "real" American. Orientals is an excellent addition to the scholarly literature. --C.B. Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Lee (American civilization, Brown Univ.) presents six images of "the Oriental": pollutant of white culture, coolie laborer, effeminate deviant, yellow peril threat, model minority, and gook. Lee identifies these images by reviewing a wide range of popular American literature, including films, folktales, and songs from late 19th-century California to the present day. Scholars as well as general readers will be interested in Lee's identification of the conservative "racial bigot" and the "national racial liberal." Readers may wonder why he does not place into perspective popular fiction such as Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club (LJ 2/15/89) or the movie Dim Sum, instead focusing on the enduring historical sterotypes represented by Flower Drum Song, Fu Manchu, and The World of Suzie Wong. Still, Lee does an excellent job with the historical material. Highly recommended for both academic and public libraries.?Peggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, IL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.