Alien Encounters

Popular Culture in Asian America

Alien Encounters

Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: 16 b&w illustrations, 1 table Published: April 2007

Asian American Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

Alien Encounters showcases innovative directions in Asian American cultural studies. In essays exploring topics ranging from pulp fiction to multimedia art to import-car subcultures, contributors analyze Asian Americans’ interactions with popular culture as both creators and consumers. Written by a new generation of cultural critics, these essays reflect post-1965 Asian America; the contributors pay nuanced attention to issues of gender, sexuality, transnationality, and citizenship, and they unabashedly take pleasure in pop culture.

This interdisciplinary collection brings together contributors working in Asian American studies, English, anthropology, sociology, and art history. They consider issues of cultural authenticity raised by Asian American participation in hip hop and jazz, the emergence of an orientalist “Indo-chic” in U.S. youth culture, and the circulation of Vietnamese music variety shows. They examine the relationship between Chinese restaurants and American culture, issues of sexuality and race brought to the fore in the video performance art of a Bruce Lee–channeling drag king, and immigrant television viewers’ dismayed reactions to a Chinese American chef who is “not Chinese enough.” The essays in Alien Encounters demonstrate the importance of scholarly engagement with popular culture. Taking popular culture seriously reveals how people imagine and express their affective relationships to history, identity, and belonging.

Contributors. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Kevin Fellezs, Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, Joan Kee, Nhi T. Lieu, Sunaina Maira, Martin F. Manalansan IV, Mimi Thi Nguyen, Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Sukhdev Sandhu, Christopher A. Shinn, Indigo Som, Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu, Oliver Wang


Alien Encounters . . . offers the best introduction to Asian American popular cultural studies to date. The contributors illuminate an impressive range of unstudied or understudied youth cultures, musics, art, media, performance, and everyday practices and discourses.” — Glen Mimura, Journal of Asian American Studies

Alien Encounters, though mostly academic, contains a wide spectrum of writing. . . . This book’s version of the Vietnamese-American experience is essentially positive because it concentrates, not on a sense of displacement and loss, but on adaptation to a new environment.” — Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times

“The editors kept their promise to make Alien Encounter a book full of suspense for the reader. This is due to its interdisciplinary approach that highlights a great variety of activities from different angles, where Asian Americans act either as consumers or creators. . . . The book is worthwhile reading for undergraduate and graduate students of art (history), political science, sociology, and anyone who is interested in multiculturalism.” — Eva Schmidt, Itinerario

“This impressive interdisciplinary collection (Asian American studies, English, anthropology, sociology and art history) takes the encounters between Asian America and popular culture, as well as their threats and promises, seriously. . . . One of Alien Encounters’ strengths is its refusal to reduce the diversity and complexity of Asian American experience to any easy political assurances; rather, as alien encounters go, it offers an exploration, one that takes the readers through an amazing array of Asian American cultural sites.” — Yiu Fai Chow, European Journal of Cultural Studies

“This volume of essays on Asian Americans and popular culture is a welcome addition to interdisciplinary and cultural studies, as well as scholarship on ethnic studies. The collection brings together a variety of subjects and viewpoints, highlighting elements attendant upon popular culture such as race, nation, and gender.” — Crystal S. Anderson, MELUS

"If at the end of the collection readers goes away engaging with the diverse world of Asian America beyond skin/screen deep, and are better able to cut through and contextualize the accumulated stereotypes and racial expectations, then the large amount of serious scholarship devoted to popular culture in Alien Encounters will have been worth every word." — Sanaphay Rattanavong, Asian American Press

"The contributors to Alien Encounters eschew cultural studies’ normative investment in locating mass culture’s hegemonic and/or resistant potential, instead analyzing 'how Asian Americans have chosen to engage the idiom of the popular' (3). . . . This new orientation of Asian American studies has begun to take hold in the field, and its possibilities are nowhere more apparent than in the range of domestic and transnational sites made available to Alien Encounters. Nguyen and Tu have assembled a radically contemporary array of case studies as a springboard to enlarge cultural studies’ understanding of popular culture, both as consumptive and productive practice." — Emily Roxworthy, e-misférica

“Learned, savvy, and on the pulse, this volume does more than fill a huge gap in popular culture studies. Like the strongest of new entries, it might end up rearranging the entire field.” — Andrew Ross, author of Fast Boat to China: Lessons from Shanghai

“This wonderfully rich collection of essays shows the particular import of the realm of popular culture and its study. Such a critical assessment of the practices, production, consumption, and variegated sites of Asian American popular culture and politics demonstrates the broad horizons which can and should ground Asian American criticism.” — Kandice Chuh, author of Imagine Otherwise: On Asian Americanist Critique


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Price: $28.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mimi Thi Nguyen is Assistant Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu is Assistant Professor of Art History and Asian American Studies at Cornell University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction / Mimi Thi Nguyen and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu 1

I. Sounds Authentic?

1. Rapping and Repping Asian: Race, Authenticity, and the Asian American MC / Oliver Wang 35

2. Silenced but Not Silent: Asian Americans and Jazz / Kevin Fellezs 69

II. Popular Places

3. Homicidal Tendencies: Violence and the Global Economy in Asian American Pulp Fiction / Christopher A. Shinn 111

4. Visual Reconnaissance / Joan Kee 130

5. Chinese Restaurant Drive-Thru / Indigo Som 150

6. The Guru and the Cultural Politics of Placelessness / Sukhdev Sandhu 161

III. Consuming Cultures

7. Cooking up the Senses: A Critical Embodied Approach to the Study of Food and Asian American Television Audiences / Martin F. Manalansan IV 179

8. Performing Culture in Diaspora: Assimilation and Hybridity in Paris by Night Videos and Vietnamese American Niche Media / Nhi T. Lieu 194

9. Indo-Chic: Late Capitalist Orientalism and Imperial Culture / Sunaina Maira 221

IV. Troubled Technologies

10. Asian American Auto / Biographies: The Gendered Limits of Consumer Citizenship in Import Subcultures / Robyn Magalit Rodriguez and Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez 247

11. Bruce Lee I Love You: Discourses of Race and Masculinity in the Queer Superstardom of JJ Chinois / Mimi Thi Nguyen 271

12. Race and Software / Wendy Hui Kyong Chun 305

Bibliography 335

Contributors 355

Index 359
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3922-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3910-6
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