Alien Capital

Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism

Alien Capital

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 29 illustrations Published: March 2016

Author: Iyko Day

American Studies, Asian American Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies

In Alien Capital Iyko Day retheorizes the history and logic of settler colonialism by examining its intersection with capitalism and the racialization of Asian immigrants to Canada and the United States. 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. This alignment allowed white settlers to gloss over and expunge their complicity with capitalist exploitation from their collective memory. Day reveals this process through an analysis of a diverse body of Asian North American literature and visual culture, including depictions of Chinese railroad labor in the 1880s, filmic and literary responses to Japanese internment in the 1940s, and more recent examinations of the relations between free trade, national borders, and migrant labor. In highlighting these artists' reworking and exposing of the economic modalities of Asian racialized labor, Day pushes beyond existing approaches to settler colonialism as a Native/settler binary to formulate it as a dynamic triangulation of Native, settler, and alien populations and positionalities.


"...expand[s] and broaden[s] the canon of Asian North American literature... Day’s Alien Capital enable[s] us to understand the complexities of racialization beyond colonial/victims, black/white, dominant/minor binaries... articulate, intelligent addition to Canadian theory and criticism." — Eleanor Ty, Canadian Literature

"Ikyo Day’s book will take its place amongst important work that theorizes, historicizes and offers a way to speak to the intersections of capitalism, white supremacy, settler colonialism, and migration in white settler contexts." — Kevin Bruyneel, Theory & Event

"Day deftly retheorizes the history and logic of settler colonialism by examining its intersection with capitalism and the racialization of Asian immigrants to Canada and the United States. . . . [A] valuable resource." — Sumiko Braun, Amerasia Journal

"Iyko Day makes a compelling intervention in discussions of race, capital, and settler colonialism." — Rachel Kuo, Lateral

Alien Capital is a persuasive and thought-provoking study, challenging scholars to rethink historical interpretations of settler colonialism, immigration, labor, and race in North America.”

— Allan E. S. Lumba, Western Historical Quarterly

"This book invites readers to see art as a means of questioning and rethinking history. Historians may want the book to historicize the artists themselves, but Day is aiming at something else: seeing a world beyond capitalism." — Elliott Young, Journal of American History

“Insightful, intersectional cultural criticism.... I highly recommend Alien Capital for Native American and Indigenous studies scholars with an interest in settler-colonialism, critical ethnic studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, visual cultures, and literature.” — Beenash Jafri, Native American and Indigenous Studies

Alien Capital . . . puts forward a much-needed account that unwaveringly reformulates the terms through which settler colonialism might be examined and contested from an Asian diasporic perspective.” — Szu Shen, Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

"Day insightfully approaches the analysis of North American settler colonialism through Asian Americanist critique." — Manu Vimalassery, Modern Fiction Studies

"Day offers us a new way of understanding how settler colonialism capitalism articulates race and provides new analytical tools for pushing forward settler colonial studies, cultural studies, and Asian American Studies." — Faye Caronan, Pacific Historical Review

"Day’s work provides a valuable look at settler colonialism and its ramifications for the East Asian peoples of Canada and the United States."

— Diana L. Ahmad, American Historical Review

"Alien Capital offers a necessary and deeply welcome investigation into the intersections of race, indigeneity, and white settler colonialism." — Lily Cho, English Studies in Canada

Alien Capital makes an important intervention in a growing body of interdisciplinary literature that seeks to move beyond binary theorizations of settler colonialism.” — Wesley Attewell, AAG Review of Books

“Iyko Day’s Alien Capital is a much welcomed and crucial contribution to critical race, Indigenous, and settler colonial theory. A timeless work.” — Michelle Daigle, AAG Review of Books

“A nuanced and much needed analysis of Asian racialization in settler colonial contexts.” — May Farrales, AAG Review of Books

Alien Capital is a creative and bold inquiry into the vexed subjecthood of Asian immigrants set up by Canada’s settler colonial society. The ingenuity of this book has a broad reach for scholars and teachers who are invested in comparative ethnic studies, Asian American studies, settler colonial studies, and cultural geography.” — Stevie Ruiz, AAG Review of Books

“A timely contribution to the literature on migrant labor, capital, and race.” — Christine Peralta, AAG Review of Books

“A major contribution and intervention. Alien Capital serves as a call for all of us to reach across our divides to really truly take into account our responsibilities to each other.” — Dory Nason, AAG Review of Books

"Alien Capital makes welcome contributions to both settler colonial studies and Asian American studies, complicating the Native/settler binary by investigating the abstraction and exploitation of Asian laborers while also articulating a genealogy of Asian North Americans’ relation to settler colonial capitalism." — Yi-Ting Chang, MELUS

"Through often unexpected and dazzling analyses, Iyko Day considers a transnational U.S.–Canada archive that explores how Asian immigrants came to represent the abstraction of capital, bringing to the fore a history of settler colonialism that is often ignored in accounts of Asian immigration and racialization. Alien Capital is sure to be a very important, influential, and widely read book."  — David L. Eng, author of The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy

"Featuring elegant and erudite readings of an impressive variety of texts by Asian artists from the United States and Canada alongside brilliant theoretical analyses of settler colonialism and racial capital, Iyko Day's Alien Capital is an immensely important and innovative work. With groundbreaking and profound interventions, Day convincingly demonstrates that we cannot fully understand settler colonialism without considering Asian racialization."  — Grace Kyungwon Hong, author of Death beyond Disavowal: The Impossible Politics of Difference


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Iyko Day is Associate Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction. The New Jews: Settler Colonialism and the Personification of Capitalism  1

1. Sex, Time, and the Transcontinental Railroad: Abstract Labor and the Queer Temporalities of History 2  41

2. Unnatural Landscapes: Romantic Anticapitalism and Alien Degeneracy  73

3. Japanese Internment and the Mutation of Labor  115

4. The New Ninteteenth Century: Neoliberal Borders, the City, and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism  151

Epilogue. The Revenge of the Iron Chink  191

Notes 199

Bibliography  223

Index  235

Credits  243
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6093-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6079-7
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