The Intimacies of Asian Publics

February 3, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Room 280N, Second Floor, York Lanes
York University
York Centre for Asian Research

asianpublics_smlChristine Kim, Department of English, Simon Fraser University
Friday, 3 February 2017 | 3 to 4:30pm | Room 280N, York Lanes | Keele Campus

In this talk, I reflect on the complex formations of publics, particularly for Asian Canadian participants, and how we are able to feel for and within them. Within the logic of Canadian multiculturalism, ‘Asian’ is transformed into an adjective for Canadian that directs our attention towards matters of national citizenship and inclusion. Without taking away from the valuable work that many scholars and activists have done to address these exclusionary legal and political structures as they operate within the Canadian context, I want to move away from the assumption that state recognition is the primary or most important kind of recognition sought by Asian Canadian publics. I am interested instead in considering how ‘Asian’ also becomes a means of engaging other audiences and makes possible minor publics such as diasporic, transnational, and global ones. The social intimacies of these formations interrogate how racialized subjects are formed, recognized, and made to matter for a range of local, national, and global audiences.

In the first part of this talk, I think through Korean diasporas in terms of minor publics by turning to two art projects by Vancouver-based artist David Khang. As they engage with personal loss and the legacies of the Korean War, “Mom’s Crutch” and “Wrong Places” illuminate the complex interplay between national and diasporic formations through diasporic subjects that are divided on the levels of affect, politics, and memory. While the first part of my talk examines the intimacies of the Korean diaspora, the second part of my talk turns to literary and cultural representations of North Korea to consider how global intimacies can also be produced through exclusion. Here I will focus on Shin Dong-Hyuk’s Escape From Camp 14, a narrative of his defection from North Korea, to examine how North Korea functions as a figure that illustrates the limits of human rights discourse for the contemporary Western imagination. Through Shin Dong-Hyuk’s narrative, I engage with North Korea as a social fantasy that speaks to what Jodi Kim calls “the protracted afterlife of the Cold War.”

Presented by the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, the Department of English, the Department of Humanities, and the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR).

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