Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies, Vol 3 (2012)

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American Orientalism and Cosmopolitan Mixed Race: Early Asian American Mixed Race in the American Literary Imagination

Melissa Eriko Poulsen


This paper offers and initial examination of representations of Asian American mixed race during the long period of Asian exclusion and enforced anti-miscegenation when racial mixing was legally proscribed. I argue that this literature must be understood through two categories – Orientalist texts that produce and reproduce dominant discourses about Asian American mixed race and cosmopolitan texts written by mixed-race figures circling in vanguard cliques of art and literature. After tracking the representations of early Asian American mixed race in U.S. literature, this paper offers an analysis of the writing of Asian American mixed-race authors themselves in order to expand and push current theorizations.

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