Su Young Lee

Graduate Spring 2024: Su Young Lee

“Imagining Elsewheres: Speculating the Asian Diaspora in North America, Australia, and Aotearoa New Zealand”

English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

This project develops “elsewheres” as a concept to rethink approaches to studying the Asian diaspora, reinterpreting Kandice Chuh’s renowned call for Asian American studies to imagine itself otherwise to ask how Asian Americanist critique and other Asian diasporic scholarship can imagine themselves in many elsewheres and see themselves anew. If the “Asian American” dominates media and literary representations of Asian diasporas in the West, which still shape other nations’ attitudes towards their Asian communities, I ask how often Asian America looks to other “Asian Elsewheres.” By de-centering but also recognizing the fruitfulness of engaging with Asian America as a point of reference, I look to fictional narratives with concerns that may feel familiar to Asian America but emerge from non-US locations—whether they materialize from other countries like Canada, Australia, and Aotearoa New Zealand, or they imagine an America drastically reshaped. While the description of “elsewhere” usually means something insignificant, unfamiliar, or geographically distant, I argue elsewhereness as a potential method emphasizes the relationality between Asian diasporas through a cross-disciplinary and feminist analytic that imagines a political formation and intersectional analyses without assuming a conflated identity. Imagining alternative groupings of conversations from traditional categories of knowledge and cultural production based on geography or the nation-state, the project explores how understandings of the Asian diaspora might be reconfigured around affective experiences, temporary affiliations, or more-than-human entanglements.