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Repetition and RaceAsian American Literature After Multiculturalism$
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Amy C. Tang

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190464387

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190464387.001.0001

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Remapping the Politics of Pastiche in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange

Remapping the Politics of Pastiche in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange

(p.69) Chapter 2 Remapping the Politics of Pastiche in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange
Repetition and Race

Amy C. Tang

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 reinterprets the politics of pastiche through a re-reading of Karen Tei Yamashita’s novel Tropic of Orange. A signature strategy of postmodernism, pastiche has been claimed by ethnic literary criticism as an antirealist strategy that challenges hegemonic narratives. While reading pastiche as resistance asserts the political value of ethnic literature, it risks bolstering multiculturalism’s substitution of aesthetic representation for social transformation. This chapter argues that Yamashita mobilizes pastiche not to reconcile the realms of the aesthetic and the social, but to mark their incommensurability and to stage a continual oscillation between them. In doing so, Yamashita constructs the aesthetic as a utopian refuge from, rather than reflection of, social determinants, while also uncovering the processes of abstraction required to produce this refuge. Pastiche in the novel thus becomes a way to polemically assert the political value of aesthetic distance, challenging key assumptions within ethnic and postmodern discourses.

Keywords:   Karen Tei Yamashita, Tropic of Orange, pastiche, postmodernism, aesthetics, omniscience

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