Synopses & Reviews
, 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 imagesandmdash;literary, visual, and filmicandmdash;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.
andldquo;David Engandrsquo;s excellent book shows not only how psychoanalysis canandmdash;and mustandmdash;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.andrdquo;andmdash;Judith Butler, University of California at Berkeley
andldquo;With consummate lucidity and analytical skill, David Eng demonstrates how intimately related are Asian American identity and generic U.S. nationalityandmdash;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.andrdquo;andmdash;Phillip Brian Harper, New York University
A psychoanalytic study that argues for the centrality of sexuality in the construction of Asian-American identity, and of racial identity in general.
About the Author
David L. Eng is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and coeditor of Q and A: Queer in Asian America, winner of a 1998 Lambda Literary Award.