Asian American studies in travel
Abstract In this short essay Yoneyama situates the journal’s special issue within the Cold War history and politics of transpacific knowledge formation by calling on Edward W. Said’s concept, 'traveling theory.' Contributors to this groundbreaking collective project have shown us that Asian American critique interfaced with Asia can upset the discipline’s boundary and its assumptions enough to generate new questions and objects of inquiry. At the same time, a discipline’s travel necessarily accompany and (re)institute troubling apparatuses of knowledge and power. Particularly of concern here are the two elements that largely set the discursive parameters of Asian American studies as they have been institutionalized in the United States: liberal multiculturalism and the ethno-national organization of knowledge. Also integral to the area studies formations, they have together served as a powerful epistemic tool for the U.S.-led Cold War geopolitical management of the post-World War II, postcolonial world. What are the consequences of traveling knowledge uncritical of such earlier history? The essay suggests that the inter-Asia, transpacific critique and its historical materialist interrogation of the Cold War legacies in Asia should remain urgent if we were to sustain the productively unsettling effects of Asian American studies’ travel to Asia.
Lisa Yoneyama is professor of gender and Asian studies at University of Toronto. She has written extensively on the politics of memory and the problems of transpacific knowledge formation. She is currently preparing a book manuscript entitled, Cold War Ruins: Feminism, Colonialism, and Americanization of Justice, in which she critically explores the failure of post-World War II transitional justice and its lasting ramifications. Yoneyama’s other publications include: Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space and the Dialectics of Memory (University of California Press, 1999) Violence, War, Redress (Iwanami Shoten, 2003), and a co-edited volume, Perilous Memories: Asia-Pacific War(s) (Duke University Press, 2001).