Knowledge in movement: configuring Asian American studies in Asian classrooms

Hsiu chuan Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article takes classrooms as crucial sites to explore the critical challenges and opportunities arising from Asian American studies’ relocation to Asia. Taking a cue from Erin Manning’s theory on “the minor gesture,” I conceive classroom dialogism as operating not as much to pass on inured thoughts as to generate “minor” forces that push knowledge into movement. Specifically, I argue that the confrontations and encounters of various nationalist, culturalist and imperialist perspectives—which usually contribute to the differences and difficulties of teaching Asian American studies in Asia—may be taken less as obstructions than as “minor” activators that push for renewed knowledge structures. Section one of this article reads selected teaching accounts to not only highlight the implications of Asian classrooms’ readings of Asian American texts in the power dynamics between Asia(s) and America(s), but also excavate from students’ readings and responses the habitual models of receiving Asian American studies in Asia. Section two then turns to my experience of teaching an undergraduate Asian American literature course in Taiwan to explore classrooms’ potential to usher in the time and space needed for opening habitual thinking paradigms into movement and variation. By mobilizing in classroom switches and exchanges between thinking positions and interpretive frames, I invoked from the documentary film Voices in the Clouds (2010) the intersecting life stories of Atayal, Han Taiwanese, Asian Americans and Americans to underscore the importance to think in terms of historical change and human movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-87
Number of pages16
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Asian American studies in Asia
  • Taiwan Indigenous culture
  • Voices in the Clouds
  • classroom dialogism
  • the minor gesture
  • transpacific studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies

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