We are joining teams with Dissent Magazine to celebrate the launch of the magazine's Spring issue, “Border Crossings,” featuring a discussion with Vivek Bald, Gaiutra Bahadur, Jack Tchen, and Minh-Ha T. Pham, moderated by Michelle Chen. The panel will start at 7:30 p.m. sharp. To read Dissent’s Spring issue for free, sign up for their email newsletter by March 31: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/read-our-spring-issue-for-free
Labeled everything from model minorities to national threats, immigrants often tread a precarious path between fear and acceptance, being exoticized or reviled, between viewed as one of “us” or one of “them.” How have different immigrant groups navigated the divisive cultural politics of these real and imagined borders? And more importantly, how have they challenged them?
Drawing on historic and contemporary photographs, art, fashion, advertisements and pop culture featuring South Asian, Chinese, Indo-Caribbean and other migrants, Vivek Bald (author of Bengali Harlem: Exploring the Lost Histories of South Asian America), Gaiutra Bahadur (author of Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture), Jack Tchen (author of Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear) and Minh-Ha T. Pham (author of Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet) discuss the cultural politics of migration.
VIVEK BALD is a scholar and filmmaker whose work focuses on histories of South Asian migration and diaspora. He is author of Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America and is currently working on his second book, The Rise and Fall of ‘Prince’ Ranji Smile: Fantasies of India at the Dawn of the American Century. He teaches media studies and writing at MIT.
GAIUTRA BAHADUR is the author of Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture (University of Chicago Press, 2013), which was shortlisted for the 2014 Orwell Prize.
JACK (JOHN KUO WEI) TCHEN is a scholar and author of award-winning books such as New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, and more recently, of Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear published by Verso in 2014. He regularly collaborates with filmmakers and media producers, artists and collectors, and through the A/P/A Institute sponsors and produces hundreds of programs and performances.
MINH-HA T. PHAM is an interdisciplinary scholar focussing on how race, gender, and class shape contemporary fashion media technologies, conditions, and practices. Her forthcoming book Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet, which examines personal style blogging within the broader history of fashion labor, is due out in October 2015.
MICHELLE CHEN is the co-editor, with Kaavya Asoka, of the "Border Crossings" special section in the Spring 2015 issue of Dissent.
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So if China’s going to be the capital of the 21st Century, what does it mean to leave this new metropole or come back? Photographer Alan Chin and writers Suzanne Ma and Val Wang, moderated by Wah-Ming Chang, touch upon what it means to immigrate from China and what it means to return--in a time when 50 million Chinese live overseas, and when more people migrate within China than anywhere else in history.
In 2008, Pulitzer-nominated photographer Alan Chin went back to his ancestral village in Toishan--until the 1960s, the origin of two-thirds of Chinese American migration. You can see a slideshow of his haunting black-and-white photographs in The Margins. He’ll screen his photographs, some of which are in the collection at the Museum of Modern Art. Val Wang also returned to the mainland and her book Beijing Bastard: Into the Wilds of a Changing China (Gotham 2014) documents Val’s travels back to the land her family fled before the communist takeover. A rebellious outcast, Wang chronicles the outsiders caught in the tension between the old and new in late nineties Beijing. The arrow of immigration points the other way in Meet Me In Venice (Rowman & Littlefield 2015) by Wall Street Journal contributor Suzanne Ma. The book tells the untold true story of thousands of Chinese emigrants who end up in an unlikely place: not San Jose, New York or LA, but Venice Italy, a city that’s harbored Chinese migrants for centuries. Wah-Ming Chang is the Managing Editor at Melville House. /\ /\ \/\/ \/\/
Join us as writers Alex Gilvarry and Viet Ngyuen read novels that laugh in the darkness of American empire, whether it’s the Vietnam War or the War on Terror. Released on the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Viet Ngyuen’s intense satirical novel The Sympathizer (Grove Atlantic 2015) follows a young multiracial Vietnamese man who escapes the Vietnam War thanks to a CIA airlift. His wife and children killed before transport, he arrives in Los Angeles where he helps an auteur hire Vietnamese refugees to work as extras in a film not unlike Apocalypse Now. Did we mention that he’s also a spy for the North Korean communists? Already hailed as a mordant classic about war and complicity, The Sympathizer writes the Vietnam War from an often complex and ironic POV: that of the Vietnamese themselves. As Philip Caputo wrote in The New York Times Book Review’scover story--the novel fills a “void in the literature, giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of 40 years ago in a new light.” In Alex Gilvarry’s From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant (Viking 2012), a Filipino fashion designer finds that he’s wandered a little far from the haute couture world of Brooklyn--when he’s accidentally deported to Guantánamo. (Upon arriving, he strips his orange jumpsuit of its sleeves.) The novel--which earned Alex the 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation--features both a rich Bellowesque voice, footnotes both ironic and satirical, and a devastating finale. Memoirs is--in the words of The New York Times--”a left-handed love letter to America” written to “to scare the smirk off our mugs as we enter Year 10 of Guantánamo’s use as a prison, with no end to the suffering in sight.” Moderated by novelist Gina Apostol, whose novel Gun Dealers’ Daughter (W.W. Norton 2013) won the 2013 Pen Open Book Award. You can read an excerpt from it in The Margins.