Racial Castration

Managing Masculinity in Asian America

Racial Castration

Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe

More about this series

Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 14 b&w photographs Published: March 2001

Author: David L. Eng

Asian American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Psychoanalytic Theory

Racial Castration, the first book to bring together the fields of Asian American studies and psychoanalytic theory, explores the role of sexuality in racial formation and the place of race in sexual identity. David L. Eng examines images—literary, visual, and filmic—that configure past as well as contemporary perceptions of Asian American men as emasculated, homosexualized, or queer.
Eng juxtaposes theortical discussions of Freud, Lacan, and Fanon with critical readings of works by Frank Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Lonny Kaneko, David Henry Hwang, Louie Chu, David Wong Louie, Ang Lee, and R. Zamora Linmark. While situating these literary and cultural productions in relation to both psychoanalytic theory and historical events of particular significance for Asian Americans, Eng presents a sustained analysis of dreamwork and photography, the mirror stage and the primal scene, and fetishism and hysteria. In the process, he offers startlingly new interpretations of Asian American masculinity in its connections to immigration exclusion, the building of the transcontinental railroad, the wartime internment of Japanese Americans, multiculturalism, and the model minority myth. After demonstrating the many ways in which Asian American males are haunted and constrained by enduring domestic norms of sexuality and race, Eng analyzes the relationship between Asian American male subjectivity and the larger transnational Asian diaspora. Challenging more conventional understandings of diaspora as organized by race, he instead reconceptualizes it in terms of sexuality and queerness.


“[B]oldly initiates inquiry for which this reviewer knows no precedent or peer. Focused on readings of novels, stories, and movies, Eng saturates his wonderfully revelatory interventions with erudite theory, never as end but always as tool. . . . Eng’s seminal study should not be ghettoized as merely a landmark text in Asian American studies, though it is that. This study has the potential to open a floodgate for new work in revelatory and empowering readings of masculinity for many groups, periods or genres. Highly recommended . . . . ” — D. N. Mager, Choice

“[I]ntellectually enlightening look at perceptions of Asian American men.” — A Magazine

“A new interpretation of Asian-American masculinity uses psychoanalytic theory, cultural production and historical events to explore the role of sexuality in racial formation and the place of race in sexual identity.” — Columbia College Today

“At its best, however, such a work is committed to understanding the United States in relation to diaspora, migration, and the global exchange of culture. . . . [This is] especially true of David L. Eng’s remarkable study of Asian-American masculinity. . . . [T]he great strength of Eng’s work is his suggestion that the production of Asian-American community in the United States involves the disciplining of the Asian as both laborer and sexual actor.” — Robert Reid-Pharr , Chronicle Review

“In a brilliant and concentrated collection of psychoanalytic essays, David Eng blurs the constructed boundaries of race, gender, sexuality, and hierarchical subjectivities.” — Frederick Cloyd , International Examiner

"[I]mportant. . . . [T]he value of Eng's most brilliant analyses have less to do with the analystic seeds provided by Freudian or Lacanian theory, seminal though they may be, than with the elegant intellect and astute insights of the author himself as he reworks and expands these frameworks." — Sunaina Maira , Amerasia Journal

"Eng has 'forever queered Asian American studies,' compelling Asian Americanists to grapple with the potentially homophobic and nativist grounds upon which Asian Americanism, as a political movement and as a field of study, was founded." — Crystal Parikh , Modern Fiction Studies

“David Eng’s excellent book shows not only how psychoanalysis can—and must—read race but how race revises psychoanalytic theory fundamentally. Wide-ranging and lucid, this work offers a theoretically rich set of cultural readings, making us know in new ways the proximities of racial difference, desire, anxiety, and visual representation.” — Judith Butler, University of California at Berkeley

“With consummate lucidity and analytical skill, David Eng demonstrates how intimately related are Asian American identity and generic U.S. nationality—and how central to both are the contestations of masculine subjectivity. A powerful contribution to Americanist and transnational studies, Racial Castration more generally demonstrates the potential of psychoanalytic theory as an element in rigorous social critique.” — Phillip Brian Harper, New York University


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

David L. Eng is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and coeditor of Q & A: Queer in Asian America, winner of a 1998 Lambda Literary Award.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface vii

Introduction: Racial Castration

1. I’ve Been (Re)Working on the Railroad: Photography and National History in China Men and Donald Duk 35

2. Primal Scenes: Queer Childhood in “The Shoyu Kid” 104

3. Heterosexuality in the Face of Whiteness: Divided Belief in M. Butterfly 137

4. Male Hysteria—Real and Imagined—in Eat a Bowl of Tea and Pangs of Love

Epilogue: Out Here and Over There: Queerness and Diaspora in Asian American Studies 204

Notes 229

Bibliography 267

Index 283
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2636-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2631-1
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