Archive for December, 2009

There was so much to choose from, but this one made me the saddest:


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Dear Kasama:

I feel bad that I spent the better part of our reunion railing about white liberal feminists and other scholars who frustrate the hell out of me. And that when you asked what it was about their work that bothered me, and what was I was looking for from them, I could not muster a coherent response.

So after a few days of thinking about your questions, this is what I’ve come up with.

Some specific things that bother me include:

  • that many Asian and Southeast Asian Studies departments are organized along Area Studies lines, focusing on regional security and economic development.
  • that my university’s department is still predominantly composed of white males, something that seems true of most Asian studies departments, based on conference attendance.
  • that readings lists in introductory classes are largely organized around the works of white scholars. Works by “natives” like Reynaldo Ileto get relegated to optional or recommended reading, much in the same way many Intro to Women’s Studies classes tokenize Audre Lorde and bell hooks.

My issue is not that these scholars and activists are assholes.  It’s that Western schools of thought on history and development studies (or worse, “Oriental Studies”) have an extremely poor track record of interpellating their former colonies. And our narratives still end up shoring their legacies of liberalism, neoliberalism, and colonialism.


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