Growing up with fb, cinema, youtube, and more, you may have felt that you had the globe at your fingertips. Yet have you interrogated effects of this feeling on your ability to act as an independent, adaptable thinker and doer? Is it possible that media have taught you to act as a spectator, only, rather than as a curious, possibly courageous, world citizen when you study abroad, travel, consider migrant issues, or seek employment? This module explores integrity, openness and maybe expressivity, through one strand of identity, Asian-Pacificness. However, certain lessons may transfer to strands such as gender/sex, age, faith, and able-ism. A thought-provocation is sociologist Paul Gilroy’s insight that in a diasporic world, roots may matter less than commerce-impelled routes of transmission.
Philosopher Anthony Appiah argues that ‘we make ourselves up’ within discernible limits: each of us uses a ‘tool kit made available by our culture and society’. Tool kits in the Asia-Pacific area have been so deeply globalized, for so long, that we often hear concern about heritage and loss. Are we as alert, though, to visualization? The question arises with a phenotypical dimension when art historian Kobena Mercer remarks the intersection of traffic in human beings -- slavery -- and primacy in Western thought, since the Renaissance, of evidence that humans access optically.
To weave these inputs into a start-point, consider a cinema scholar’s advice about human beings’ sight. `Although we cannot control what happens to a perception before we become aware of it’, Kaja Silverman counsels, ‘we can retroactively revise the value which it assumes for us at a conscious level. We can look at an object’ (or, in USE2209, a person or people) ‘a second time, through different representational parameters, and painstakingly reverse the processes through which we have arrogated to ourselves what does not belong to us, or displaced onto another what we do not want to recognize in ourselves’. Silverman does not speak of integrity or openness. But she does consider re-looking ‘a necessary step in the coming of a subject to an ethical or a non-violent relation to the other’. You may like to look or re-look at the Georgette Chen image on this page, therefore, to ask, is this visual depiction local or globalised?
Citations for quoted passages can be found in the ‘Syllabus’ tab.
Assigned materials are cited more fully on the “Readings” page.
Prepare for class by watching at least two of the videos listed below. But also keep an eye on IVLE because we may not meet on this day. If that happens, the reason is that I will be in transit from a conference. So, Plan A is that we will discuss your reactions to the videos below in class. Plan B is that I will post on IVLE by 9 January that we will not meet on Monday but learning will commence by these instructions: by 11:59 p.m. on 11 January, each student enrolled in the module will post on IVLE reactions of 200-400 words to any two of these videos. You choose which two you will discuss from these options: Yellow Rage performing “listen,” www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba9rKhVAz80, “Geisha Wine,” Beau Sia performing “Hip Hop,” www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkc797WQfs0, “Princess of China,” www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OpPwcM_NJw, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho1y-4mXIL0, “RIP Rich D”(an elegy in dance), www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1BgMwyZhtU. Be alert to tactics or intensities that relate to what you understand now of race, Asianness and/or Pacificness, and intersections thereof as they inform your awareness currently.
*Prepare for Thursday’s class by reading an introduction to our module’s first strand of inquiry, a fixity of history: Salkey, “Middle Passage Anancy.” Prepare for future classes by reading the material listed by that class-meeting’s date. If you post several hours before class, I will try to read your remarks, questions, or suggestions.
Introduction: What do we mean by “globalizing identity”? Which sorts of identities will we consider globalized? What ethical and/or perspectival issues are raised by ‘sampling’ as this word has come into use through hip hop? Is identity ‘sampling’ volitional? Which sorts of analytical approaches do we bring to this discussion, and which approaches can we investigate in search of advances?
*Start blog-reading for the first written assignment; take notes, possibly in journal format.
Blogs to get you started:
Field Negro, The Kitchen Table, We Are Respectable Negroes, Black Voices (try Mason Jamal), Black Tokyo, The Intersection of Madness and Reality.
You must choose blogs that post at least two new posts a week by writers on that blog’s staff (rather than providing links to other blogs). In your blog report, described in the Assignments section below, you will mention in an overview para how many posts went up on each blog, during the period in which you read the two you selected.
Homework for Monday’s class is half of an essay by Russell, “Playing with Race/Authenticating Alterity” (until the paragraph on p. 62 that concludes: “… the American shore”) and two blog-posts. If you find other posts that can help our learning, let us know by IVLE.
discuss these posts in terms of Russell’s concerns. A guideline is fixity vs. fluidity. Consider too though the role that perception, as opposed to factual verity, can play in our work.
discuss Tate, “Nigs R Us, or How Blackfolk Became Fetish Objects” (2003) plus Malkani, excerpt from Londonstani (2006)
discuss excerpts from Felski’s book Uses of Literature (2008). Be ready for a quiz on her proposals and claims.
discuss King’s interest in Dalits as Immerwahr relates it (2007). What was flexible? What was fixed?
Wood, “The Yellow Negro” (2000) plus Koshiro, “Beyond an Alliance of Color: The African American Impact on Modern Japan” (2003)
discuss Prashad, “Bruce Lee and the Anti-Imperialism of Kung Fu” (2003)
Blog report due 5 February at 11:59 p.m. Upload to workbin. Earlier uploads are fine but the rule is: one upload per student, per assignment. Late uploads will be penalized.
no class meeting, CNY
discuss Dvorak, “Chasing the Chieftain’s Daughter.” Start reading early!
Reflection paper due 12 February at 11:59 p.m. Same hand-in rules as for blog report. Same penalty for late submissions.
Frank, “Back with a vengeance” (2006)
Fausto-Sterling, “Bodies with Histories” (2013)
Oral history due 22 February at 11:59 p.m. Same hand-in rules, same penalty for late submissions.
Kaw, “Medicalization of Racial Features” (1993)
Johnson, ‘Performing Blackness Down Under” (2002)
Blogs to get you started:
Posch, “The Jollywood Manifesto” (2015)
14 March to 4 April::
stints + two classes that are reserved for my use (likely topics: Bernard Scott Luscious, Fiona Lee, Nina Cornyetz, C. Heyes, return to Russell’s article).
This part of the module cannot be planned securely until we know enrollment. If time permits, we will study additional material during these weeks. Or, we may see cause to devote one or more class-meetings to processing what transpires, to plan a film night for our module or for the USP, as a whole, or to organize a field trip, if the right sort of opportunity is available. Let’s see what develops.
discuss DeLoria, “Thinking about self in a family way” (2002)
Chinese dance www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2fZ7lRArNM + Kimiko Yoshida’s art (google six or seven images).
wrap up: questions that have arisen, questions that remain . . .
You-choose assignment due 19 April at 11:59 p.m. Same hand-in rules as for blog report, but a stiffer penalty for late submissions."
These outlines help you find your way into this module. Fuller instructions will be uploaded in good time for you to develop ideas by drafting recursively.
Word-limits and deadlines are firm. Late projects will be marked lower, in two-hour drops, pending documentary evidence of an emergency. A repeat offender will find his/her late projects marked lower in one-hour drops.
* Blog report 20% of final grade
Describe your experiences reading at least two blogs hosted by African Americans. Read these blogs over about 18 days. Choose one blog from my list; find one or several more, on your own. Report the initial and considered impressions that you derive by reading these blogs plus any comments that the blogs’ readers post. Mention what you have learned about topics discussed on the blog. But comment, also, on how topics are discussed: e.g., use of sarcasm, pathos or humor; anecdotal evidence or something firmer; assertions of individuality or group consciousness; how clashing views are handled; and more. Be aware of fixities and fluidities. Explain perhaps something that surprised (or edified or/and displeased) you as you read blogs and their readers’ posts.
Bear in mind that because this 600-800 word report will be based on experiences known only to you, you must strive for clear expression and provision, of any information I need to catch your ideas. Reports are not arguments. Still, a main claim is usually helpful near the start.
I will grade these reports in terms of clarity, comprehension of assigned and lecture materials to this point, and active engagement with ONE of these investigative strands: Wood, Malkani, Prashad. Reports will be as personal or confiding as each student chooses to make his or hers. Some students may feel tentative about their findings at this early point in the term. Still, each student can ensure that her or his report takes an identifiable stand – even if that stand is still questing, when this assignment is due.
* Reflection paper ungraded but required
Trace an Asian-Pacific identity that you encountered in the first few weeks of this module. Describe the identity critically in clean, clear prose that includes a thesis (an arguable claim). Then, examine it. Back up your reflection with viable evidence from assigned materials, class discussion and IVLE. Do no research since the thrust of this assignment is ‘processing’ input by reflection. This project can be essayistic or reportorial; you decide. You may find it helpful to conceptualize this 400-600 word project in terms of a mis/recognition of claims, concepts, ideas, and positions that you have encountered in coursework, class discussion, IVLE, and so forth.
* Oral history 25% of final grade
Interview respectfully someone whom you know. This person should be at least 15 years older than you. If you want to choose someone closer in age, consult me first with good justification. Choose whether to conduct the interview face-to-face or, if your interviewee lives far away, electronically (e.g., Skype). The interview will concern their memories of engaging African American expression – if your interviewee identifies as Asian – or of engaging Asian expression – if your interviewee identifies as African-American. You must have my permission beforehand to conduct an all-voice, no-face interview. Post your 1,200-1,500 word oral history on IVLE. This word count does not include the transcript of your interview which, even if partial, you must provide.
Start by choosing an interview subject. Next, explain to the person from whom you would like to learn that you hope he or she will share a few memories to add to our module’s historical data. Once you have found a willing interview subject, develop five to eight questions that are appropriate to that person. Make sure that your questions are easily understood, engaging if possible, and open-ended. As you start the interview, use your prepared questions but be ready to revise (on the instant) if the person’s memories spark new ideas or head in directions that you had not foreseen. Decide how long to learn from this person in terms of their interests: 20 minutes might be right for one person, where another wants to talk for 45. The minimum time is 20 minutes. Finally, write up your findings for our group. Tell us what you asked, before telling us how the person responded. Be sure to mention what you learned from this person in terms of history, mis/recognition, possibly neo-phenomenology, and other considerations introduced in this module.
This assignment can be essayistic or reportorial. In either case, you want to be open-minded, analytical and alert.
* Teaching stint 25% of final grade
A ‘stint’ of teaching, followed by Q&A that you manage, puts you in charge of the class. Stints, planned for duos, will invest 20 minutes in teaching, then devote 10 minutes to Q&A. Each stint will address ONE of the writings asterisked below, using material from Russell, Glissant or Kaw. Whichever you choose, I must ‘okay’ the proposal before you proceed. Please realize that in a given week, all duos will work with a common publication.
I will okay, or reject, proposals on a first-come, first-served basis. I welcome repeats when they advance learning. However, I monitor over-emphasis so that stints do not dwell too often on one topic (or approach) or another. As you prepare your ideas for a proposal, bear in mind that in our module, the idea of a stint is not just to report but to teach the class material that is valuable for this module, before leading the class in Q&A.
Week of 14 March: Moustafa Bayoumi, “Racing Religion.” Centennial Review 6 (Fall 2006): 265-93. Look in Project Muse
Week of 21 March: Sarah Hankins, “So contagious: Hybridity and Subcultural Exchange in Hip-Hop’s Use of Indian Samples.” Black Music Research Journal 31 (Fall 2011): 193-208. CL portal.
Week of 28 March: Jacqueline Lo, “Beyond the US-China Dilemma: The Art of Diasporic World-Making.” Australasian Journal of American Studies 33:2 (December 2014): 35-48. E-reserve.
4 April: Gabriel Solis, “The Black Pacific: Music and Racialization in Papua New Guinea and Australia.” Critical Sociology 41 (2015): 297-312. CL portal.
Mandatory: each stinting duo will provide a stint plan at least one full week before the stint date. A plan should be about 250 words long. This assignment will not be graded. But failure to provide a plan, or a plan that comes in late, affects your stint’s grade. Each plan should include justification for the use you plan of class time. How does your plan relate to our learning so far? How does it help classmates engage more fully the materials assigned? As you plan, please hold strongly in view that new case-studies are less valuable than deepened learning.
* You-choose assignment 20% of final grade
Choose from: reflection paper +
A 1,000-word reflection that meets the description for the ungraded version except that now your reflections will be more extensive, informed, and probing with help from any assigned material you choose plus ONE member of this trio: Prashad, Fausto-Sterling, Ashe. You may conceptualise this project as a report, a narrative, or a personal essay. Your reader(s) will appreciate a main claim, or statement, to guide their engagement. This claim should come very near the start of the project. I grade these papers by clarity, support for claims, knowledge of assigned material plus our discussions, awareness of this module’s emphases, and reflectiveness.
OR: critique assigned material
A 1,000-word critique of a major argument in any one assigned text that displays knowledge of that text and ONE member of this trio: Frank, Russell, Yoshida. Set forth the argument in a recap. Then explain your critique with a firm sense that critique can discern merit as well as shortfall. You can conceptualize this final assignment choice as an attempt to create more valuable tools, augment comprehension, address a gap, and so on. If you see your goal as improving the analytical situation, rather than just re-stating someone else’s work (or just tearing it down) you are headed in the right direction. I grade critiques by clarity, support for claims, knowledge of assigned material plus our discussions, awareness of this module’s emphases, and depth of insight.
OR: reflect on someone else’s reflection
A 1,000-word reflection on a classmate’s early reflection paper by which you chart your learning in this module. The goal is to reflect on a classmate’s report of learning, early on, in terms of assigned material you select along with ideas put in play by Felski OR Wood OR Posch. Remember, if you choose this option, that respect for a classmate is compatible with curiosity that fosters a lucid statement of your (potentially quite different) perspective. It is vital of course that your thoughts be accessible; think clarity. I will also look for wise, thoughtful probing plus care to achieve an appropriate attitude and tone. As you will expect, the grade will also reflect projects’ support for claims, knowledge of assigned material plus our discussions, and awareness of this module’s emphases.
* Class participation 10% of final grade
This grade measures each student’s ability to enrich our work by means such as raising alert questions in class or/and on IVLE, as well as by offering considered answers (in either format) which are up-to-date with assigned readings and our varied discussions. Other means that can add value to our work include helpful suggestions for topics or materials we might address; civil and mature engagement; keeping discussions on track; and otherwise enriching this module experience for all learners in appropriate ways. I commend students who watch out for others’ learning by, e.g., posting intelligently, processing class discussion in a useful way, and/or planning a stint that helps us process learning-to-date, tackle a trouble-spot, clear up a snag in our comprehension, and so on.