Out Here and Over There: Queerness and
Diaspora in Asian American Studies
Impossible Arrivals
As we have witnessed in the works of Kingston, Chin, Kaneko, Hwang,
Chu, and Louie issues of home for Asian Americans are particularly
vexed. Historically configured as either unassimilable aliens or per-
versely assimilated and thus ‘‘whiter than white’’ (the sojourner/yellow
peril thesis versus the model minority myth), Asian Americans have at
best a dubious claim to citizenship and a place within the U.S. nation-
A sense of membership within the larger national collective has
traditionally followed the political, economic, and cultural incorporation
of a Western European ethnic group under the banner of immigration
and assimilation as well as through the spatial metaphorics of the United
States as a point of arrival and melting pot. However, recent debates in
Asian American studies about diaspora—its focus on point of departure
and displacement from origin—insist that we (re)think the problematics
of home in this
Suspended between departure and arrival, Asian
Americans remain permanently disenfranchised from home, relegated
to a nostalgic sense of its loss or to an optative sense of its unattainability.
Approaching this problem of home from a spatial angle, we might
reasonably wonder: where, after all, is Asian America? Can Asian Amer-
ica finally be located, designated, or pinned down? A quasi-geographical
term that gained popularity in the 1970s, Asian America is being in-
voked with increasing frequency
A siteless locale with no ter-
ritorial sovereignty, the term Asian America underwrites, as Sau-ling
Cynthia Wong suggests, ‘‘a yearning for the kind of containing bound-
aries and contained site enjoyed by the dominant society, a nation-state’’
To refigure this particular spatial dynamic in relation to
Oscar V. Campomanes’s suggestive claims about Filipino American lit-
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