Arnold Genthe was a German doctor of philosophy who immigrated to
the United States in 1895 and settled in San Francisco as the tutor to the
son of a wealthy baron. An avid photographer, Genthe took hundreds of
photos on glass negatives of San Francisco’s Chinatown before the dev-
astating 1906 earthquake and fires leveled it to rubble and ashes. Indeed,
Genthe’s well-known images of Chinatown’s ‘‘bachelor society’’ helped
to establish his long and prosperous career as an acclaimed landscape
and portrait photographer. Ross Alley, or ‘‘The Street of Gamblers (by
day),’’ the cover image of Racial Castration, might be said to describe an
encounter between two immigrant groups in America: the German doc-
tor from Hamburg and his anonymous Chinese male subjects. In this
encounter between the photographer and the photographed a world ap-
pears. This world emerges in the instant of a flash—in the image of a
photograph captured for history and preserved for time. Racial Castra-
tion explores the creation and management of images—visual and other-
wise—that configure past as well as contemporary perceptions of Asian
American male subjectivity.
This book has had numerous supporters to whom I owe much grati-
tude. First, I would like to thank those family, friends, colleagues, and
mentors whose limitless generosity, warmth, kindness, humor, and bril-
liance provide an enabling supply of personal inspiration and intellec-
tual support: Bernard Arias, Christina Bernstein, Judith Butler, Deborah
Cheung, Lily Chinn, Deborah Dowell, Connie Eng, Carolina González,
Elizabeth Grainger, Shinhee Han, David Hirsch, Alice Y. Hom, Michele
Hong, JeeYeun Lee, Lisa Lowe, Sanda Lwin, Farhad Karim, David Kazan-
jian, Holly Kim, Sharon Liebowitz, John Martin, Susette Min, Rob
Miotke, Mae Ngai, Judith Oh, Catherine Prendergast, Eric Reyes, James
Runsdorf, Teemu Ruskola, Josie Saldaña, Tazuko Shibusawa, Kaja Sil-
verman, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Kendall Thomas, Sophie, Leti, and
Serena Volpp, Priscilla Wald, Eric Wallner, Dorothy Wang, Timothy Wat-
son, Deborah White, Sau-ling C. Wong, and Stephen Wong.
At Columbia, I have a remarkable group of colleagues whose encour-
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