Writing Selves: David Mura and Ben Fong-Torres

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2014-01-15
Authors
Bitterman, Karen
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Ben Fong-Torres' memoir, The Rice Room, is subtitled Growing Up Chinese-American—From Number Two Son to Rock 'N' Roll. Fong-Torres' title suggests a trajectory of identity formation from second generation Chinese American son to a position of centrality within that most American of cultural forms, rock 'n' roll. The title of David Mura's Turning Japanese, Memoirs of a Sansei suggests the complications of identity and identification that occurred when the third-generation Japanese American Mura journeyed to Japan. In both titles the explicit allusion to movement suggests the fluidity and mutability of identity, and the rigidity of racial ethnic essentialism. This is one of the central conundrums of postcolonial discourse. Because hegemonic America is obsessed with constructing and maintaining fixed identities (for the purpose of social order and control), narratives about identity provide a glimpse into the machinery which reifies the categorization of identity. Simultaneously, one of the on-going streams in contemporary theory is an analysis of the ways that narratives destabilize the notion of the immutability of identity.
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63 pages
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