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Undercover Asian: Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture (Asian American Experience) Paperback – December 20, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

 
"Nishime's persuasive, well-grounded analysis yields genuinely brilliant insights regarding the pitfalls and possibilities of multiracial visibility in contemporary media culture. Lucidly written with appealing attention to popular texts, this is the sort of book that moves multiracial and Asian American studies in interesting and engaging, new directions."
--Glen Mimura, author of Ghostlife of Third Cinema: Asian American Film and Video

About the Author

Leilani Nishime is an assistant professor of communications at the University of Washington and the coeditor of East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture.

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Product Details

  • Series: Asian American Experience
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (December 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252079566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252079566
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,605,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Nardi on April 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't. There are some interesting arguments here, especially in the first two chapters. For example, Nishime argues that in multi-racial Asian characters sexuality becomes a metaphor for race, and does a solid job of making Keanu Reeves interesting--something I would have considered impossible.

But there are deep problems which undercut the main argument. Most of all, Nishime is never particularly interested in how any of the texts looked at construct an audience. Instead, there is a blanket assumption that all of these texts are addressing a kind of generic liberal hegemony. I suppose that kind of abstraction is true enough for Vanity Fair, but really, Kimora Lee Simmons? As a result a text like Life in the Fab Lane is read as if if Simmons is introducing the problem of race to an educated white hegemony. But isn't that show aimed at an audience fully aware of problems of race and willing to be entertained by them? That's not meant to be a rhetorical question. Where is the research on the show's demographics and what it means that this kind of play gets watched (and by who?).

More generally, in a book that spends so much time on texts that have no artistic interest (sorry Keanu, but Kimora, you knew that was coming), the abiding interest here is the sociological argument. But because Nishime is covering such a limited range of texts, and refers only to theoretical arguments about society and culture, her broader critiques are very very unconvincing. The whole thing feels half baked at the moments that are most important--when she reaches for the most sweeping conclusions.

Maybe I'm most bitter at the chapter on Battlestar Galactica, which is the main reason I read the book.
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