Geographies of Asian America (ALA May 23-26, 2013)

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Circle for Asian American Literary Studies
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The Circle for Asian American Literary Studies invites submissions for two panels that reflect on the development and state of Asian American literature through the "geographies" of Asian America with an eye to regional differences and the transnational turn.

While the West Coast and Hawaii have long occupied a central place in Asian American literature due to their closeness to the Asia Pacific and the high concentration of Asian Americans in these regions, new sensibilities of Asian American places can also be seen in post-1965 Asian American literature. Gish Jen, Chang-rae Lee, and Jhumpa Lahiri, for example, embed the variegated lives of Asian Americans in urban centers and suburban neighborhoods on the East Coast in their work. Scholarship such as Leslie Bow's recent book, Partly Colored: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South, uncovers the story of the previously overlooked Asian American South.

Recent emphasis on transnationalism and diaspora in Asian American Studies also prompts us to think of the geographies of Asian America beyond the territorial boundaries of the nation-state. For example, Chang-rae Lee's A Gesture Life is set in a suburban neighborhood in upstate New York; yet half the novel shows the wartime Pacific in flashbacks. More recent fiction that contain narratives of American-born Asians returning to the country of origin, such as Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake or Aimee Phan's The Reeducation of Cherry Truong, likewise ask us to reexamine our assumptions of space and place as it pertains to Asian America.

How does Asian American literature create Asian American geographies in the U.S. and abroad? We invite papers on any aspect of the question. Email abstracts of 200-250 words to by February 15. Be sure to mention any technological needs for your presentation on your abstract. Also, please note that if your abstract is selected and you agree to present on this panel, you will need to become a member of CAALS before presenting. For more information, please visit our website at