Banana Bending

Banana Bending: Asian-Australian and Asian-Canadian Literatures

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 230
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  • Book Info
    Banana Bending
    Book Description:

    Asian-Australian and Asian-Canadian writers exist within the realities of specific national contexts that are not necessarily bypassed by configurations of the diasporic community. Tseen-Ling Khoo shows that Asian-Canadian and Asian-Australian literatures are developing in dissimilar ways because of demographic and geographical differences, the degree of governmental intervention through cultural policy initiatives, and the levels of encouragement or financial support for racial minority authors and their work. Khoo exposes the particularities of literary development within specific historical bases through comparative critiques of Asian-Canadian and Asian-Australian texts and argues that the questions of whether authors of Asian descent writing in the western world are adding to national canons or creating subversive (but marginalized) streams will remain as long as binary demarcations prevail. Khoo contends that literary criticism should see racial minority literatures as existing in both categories at once, thus shifting the boundaries of what constitutes a national canon as well as posing challenges to the literary status quo.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7110-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Banana Bendingis concerned with mapping, interrogating, and creating critical pathways for diasporic Asian literary studies. The book argues that in order to examine the disciplines and production of Asian-Canadian and Asian-Australian literatures, work needs to be considered within layers of nation, community, and the gendered self. Examining these layers enables a rigorous interrogation of the politics of racialisation in existing national spheres of culture and forges new modes of research and analysis for these literatures. To this end, the chapters chart a progression of these concerns by, first, explicating the national contexts for Asians and racialised writing in Australia...

  5. 1 “A Chink in the Armour”: Asian-Australian Space
    (pp. 13-34)

    The ‘visibility’ of Asian-Australian communities has increased in the past two decades, with extended emphasis on Australia’s potential trading relationships with Asia and controversies associated with various right-wing factions in the political environment. In 1996, an article in theAustralian Magazineby former One Nation adviser John Pasquarelli details the ‘chinks’ in One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s armour. His catalogue of her weaknesses includes lack of knowledge about her supporters and neglecting the influence of ethnic voters. These could easily correspond to many of Australia’s weaknesses as a nation, this analogy particularly ironic after twenty years of having a multicultural...

  6. 2 “Spitting in the Soup”: Asian–Canadian Space
    (pp. 35-54)

    Canada’s recognition of two official languages and the policy of multiculturalism seem to point to an already heightened government awareness of, and engagement with, the diversity of its national population that does not yet seem to prevail in Australia. Multiculturalism in Canada, as elsewhere, can be interpreted as a strategy of containment, the management of social relations in the interests of national, cultural, and political unity. Himani Bannerjee characterises this government strategy as “managing [the] seepage of persistent subjectivities of people that come from other parts of the world” (in Gunew, “Multicultural Multiplicities” 453).The normative or ethical strategy disseminated by...

  7. 3 Colouring In: Possibilities of Nationalism in Diaspora
    (pp. 55-88)

    From historical to contemporary times, representations of Australian and Canadian citizens or national ‘bodies’ in literature are indelibly white and generally male: variations on the figures of ‘tamers of wild frontiers’. These traditional images disavow and disallow Asian faces and bodies in national semiotic representations. If Asian characters are included, they are mostly in the form of ridiculed bit-players or as maligned figures.¹ Thus, historically entrenched constructions of a Western (white) citizenry in opposition with its threatening, most often coloured, Others, complicates an Asian person’s configuration as a citizen in Australia or Canada. The ‘Utopian’ space desired by Sakamoto in...

  8. 4 “At Home in Your Embarrassment”: Boundaries of Community and Ethnicity
    (pp. 89-118)

    Inevitably tied up in discussions about representation and racial minority literatures are issues of community. This is not to say that ‘community’ is an issue but to highlight the overlapping, sometimes contradictory, perspectives of creative writers, their perceived audiences, and literary critics. While previous chapters outlined negotiations of cultural meaning within larger structures of diaspora and nation, this chapter maps the limits, breaches, and strategies of ‘community’ boundaries in and for Asian-Australian and Asian-Canadian literature. It interrogates how the writing community and the texts themselves intersect in their strategies for more broadly representing hyphenated Asian community identities. Where the previous...

  9. 5 Patriotism, War, and Other Nation Desires: Asian Masculinities in Progress
    (pp. 119-148)

    Tongue-in-cheek, Sau–ling Wong declared 1991 the Year of the Asian-American Man because of the number of successful literary publications by Asian-American men and the appearance of “an especially intriguing cultural artifact” (“Subverting”1), the Asia Pacific Islander Men calendar that showcased the desirability and virility of Asian men. Her subsequent critique of the calendar and its priorities is a welcome artifact in its own right, as Asian male identity and sexuality have been arguably the most under-represented areas in diasponc Chinese and Japanese studies. This is particularly true of representational studies and critiques of cultural production. That said, diasporic Asian...

  10. 6 Emerging Extravagance in Diasporic Asian Women’s Writing
    (pp. 149-172)

    While literature by and about hyphenated Asian masculinities is only now garnering serious theoretical attention, Asian diasporic women’s writing has developed into a recognisable body of work. More specifically, it isChinesewomen’s stories that have become the most associated with ‘Asian women’s literature’. Characterised by authors such as Jung Chang, Amy Tan, and Maxine Hong Kingston, the most visible works are those written by Asian-Americans and distributed, in the main, by multinational publishers. The gradual development of Asian women’s writing in Canada and Australia, then, is partially eclipsed by the overwhelming amount of Asian-American publication and criticism, particularly along...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 173-184)

    It is crucial at this point in the growth of diasporic Asian literatures and their criticism to emphasise the Australian and Canadian contexts in which particular works operate. This act of demarcation is a deliberate resistance to the threats posed by the continual development and dominance of Asian-American studies, as well as the danger of buying into myths of ‘diasporic community’. While it is undeniable that Asian-American studies and its objectives affect the study of diasporic Asian writing elsewhere, it is equally important to maintain caution about homogenising international contexts. Fears of engulfment or generalisation have been realised with the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 185-196)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-216)
  14. Index
    (pp. 217-223)