A Host of Memories: Mixed Race Subjection and Asian American Performances Against Disavowal
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This dissertation develops the concept of racial hosting to conceptualize mixed-raceness as an embodied palimpsest of past, present, and future. A Host of Memories: Mixed Race Subjection and Asian American Performances Against Disavowal argues for the importance of uncovering the disavowed, residual, and violent conditions of racial mixture. The project situates queer theories of temporality and feminist theories of situated knowledge in relation to Asian Americanist critiques of memory. I contend that the Asian/white subject is both an index to track the colonial condition across time, and a host that harbors the colonial desires we have come to name as hybridity, multiracialism, and post-racism. Each chapter builds towards a methodology of memory to, on the one hand, track the sensorial life of mixed-raceness, and on the other hand, document how the discourse of multiracialism obscures mass violence and the colonial ideology of racial purity. Chapter one advances the framework of white residue through an examination of the case of Daniel Holtzclaw, the Japanese/white police officer serving 263 years in prison for assaulting 13 Black women. I then narrate the life of Elliot Rodger, the Chinese/white mass shooter and involuntary celibate. Opening the study in this way dispels the notion that racial mixture renders racism’s past obsolete. I then shift to mixed race artists whose performances of desire, memory, and time include a fervent belief in queer and feminist possibility. Chapter two illuminates how a femme aesthetic of retribution surfaces as a response to racial fetish. This chapter spotlights performances by Chanel Matsunami Govreau and Maya Mackrandilal. Chapter three forwards the concept of muscle memory to study how the accumulation of history is deposited into the body and enacted through movement. Here, I contemplate the queer and trans dance of Zavé Martohardjono. Chapter four de-idealizes hybridity through the oeuvre of contemporary artist Saya Woolfalk. To end, I refer to the photography of Gina Osterloh to force a reckoning with the pressures to remember and claim ancestry. Mixed race subjection, I conclude, is an embodied phenomenon with reverberating implications for the structure of racial form writ large.