Asian American Studies Lecture Series: Colleen Lye
“What is Asian American Marxism?”
How did the work of a group of revolutionary socialist black feminists called The Combahee River Collective (CRC) in 1977 lead to the critical legal concept of intersectionality introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1991? While theorists from Angela Davis to Asad Haider locate the pivot from Marxism to Post-Marxism sometime between the CRC and Crenshaw, others such as Cedric Johnson see the CRC statement as characteristic of a 1960s’ standpoint epistemology that already entailed a race-reductionist evasion of the question of black (and minority) life under capitalism. How 1060s’ standpoint epistemology was a product of the age of Asian revolutions may shed light on the sources of this still ambiguous concept of “simultaneous, interlocking oppressions” — its limits and possibilities for theorizing the materiality of race as a social relation. So too may we come to understand why the woman of color, and even the Asian American woman specifically, came to symbolize the nature of that materiality.
Colleen Lye is associate professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of America’s Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945 (Princeton University Press, 2005), a study of the making of “Asiatic racial form” through the mutual influence of literary naturalism and U.S. immigration and foreign policy in an era of U.S. expansion across the Pacific. Her current book-in-progress is a literary history of the Asian American subject of 1968.
Organized by the Program in American Studies. Cosponsored by the Department of English.