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Under the Sign of War: U.S. Militarism and Asian Americanist Critique

May 27, 2011 @ 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 320


This year’s Pacific Seminar returns focus to war, both as a way of invoking the foundational anti-Vietnam War struggles that inaugurated Asian American studies as an urgent political and epistemological project and as a contemporary analytic that wields the potential of reconfiguring the project of Asian American studies today.  In particular, this year’s Pacific Seminar workshop, led by Wei Ming Dariotis (San Francisco State) and Jennifer Kwon-Dobbs (St. Olaf College), highlights and historicizes the emergence of mixed-race studies and critical adoption studies as simultaneously origin-animating and field-transforming directions within Asian American studies.  Inquiring into the centrality of U.S. wars in Asia to mixed-race studies and critical adoption studies, this year’s workshop approaches Asian American studies not as a rigid crystallized academic tradition but rather as a critical intellectual formation whose shifting contours are shaped and renewed by engagement with the political.  In other words, not simply reducible to new identitarian directions in an academic field whose expansion (and incoherence), as critics have argued, reflect demographic changes brought on by immigration, mixed-race studies and critical adoption studies, by raising the question of geopolitics, biopolitics, and necropolitics relative to U.S. wars and militarism in the Asia Pacific region, pose fundamental challenges to an identity-based approach to Asian American studies.   As with the inaugural formation of Asian American studies, these emergent areas of activism and socially engaged scholarship, as this year’s workshop will explore, cannot be theorized outside a framework of U.S. imperialism and war.

Wei Ming Dariotis is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies, with an emphasis on Asian Americans of Mixed Heritage and Asian American Literature, Arts, and Culture. She has served on the Boards of Directors of Hapa Issues Forum, the Asian American Theater Company, and iPride, and on the Advisory Boards of Kearny Street Workshop and the Asian American Women Artists Association.  Her poetry has been published in Mixed Up,Too Mixed Up, 580 Split, and Yellow as Turmeric, Fragrant as Cloves: A Contemporary Anthology of Asian American Women’s Poetry. Her academic essays have been published in Mixed Race Literature (2002), Restoried Selves: Autobiographies of Queer Asian American Activists (2004), Chinese America: History and Perspectives (2007), The Influence of Star Trek on Television, Film and Culture (2007), and Interracial Relationships in the 21st Century (2009).  Her current project is War Baby | Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art, co-curated and co-edited with Laura Kina, an art exhibit (Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle and the De Paul University Art Museum in Chicago, 2013), and a book (under formal review at University of Washington Press).

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing and director of American Race and Multicultural Studies at St. Olaf College.  She is former core staff for Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea (TRACK) and a current fellow with the Korea Policy Institute.  Jennifer’s debut collection, Paper Pavilion (White Pine Press 2007), received the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and the Sheila Motton Book Award, and her chapbook, Song of a Mirror, was a finalist for the Tupelo Press Snowbound Series Chapbook Award.  Columns and new stories about Jennifer’s present research on Korean adoptee birth searches and unwed mothers have appeared in Chosun Ilbo, Conducive Magazine, Gyeonghyang News, Hankyoreh, Korea Herald, Korea Times, Pressian, and Yonhap News.  Currently she is writing a book of essays about unwed moms’ realities with the Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association and a second book of poetry.

Participation: Please note that this is a reading workshop.  To take part in the workshop and to obtain readings in advance, please RSVP to Christine Hong at


May 27, 2011
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm