CAALS CFPs for AAAS 2019

Please consider submitting a paper proposal for one of our two CAALS-organized panels for AAAS 2019 (April 25–27, 2019, in Madison, WI)!

Panel Title: Racial Ambiguity and Racial Passing: Reading the Ungovernable Body in Mixed-Race Asian American Literature

Chair: Roberta Wolfson, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

In her book Partly Colored: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South (2010), Leslie Bow claims that Asian Americans are positioned between the two poles of black-and-white US race relations in a racially ambiguous liminal space called “the national in-between” (18). Asian Americans of mixed-race heritage are doubly positioned within this in-between space, as they are rendered racially ambiguous both in larger national conversations about racial categorization and in debates about racial identity within Asian American communities. Mixed-race Asian American subjects, then, particularly those who are able to pass as White or non-Asian, can be understood as existing within a space of ungovernability characterized by their ability to expose race as a social construction and to destabilize race as a legitimate factor in the state’s allocation of public resources and social privileges.

This panel invites papers about literature, art, and film by Asian American writers and artists that explore racial ambiguity and/or racial passing within the mixed-race Asian American experience. Can racial passing be understood as a fugitive act or as a form of seeking sanctuary? How does the mixed-race Asian American body challenge the state’s biopolitical and necropolitical attempts to categorize and control racial bodies? In what ways might the ungovernability of the mixed-race Asian American body fuel antiracist work or activism? What is the responsibility, if any, of mixed-race Asian American subjects to engage with or problematize the state’s demands for the registration, vetting, and surveillance of specific racial bodies?

Please email your abstract (max. 250 words) and a brief CV (max. 500 words) to Roberta Wolfson at by Wednesday, September 19, 2018.

Panel Title: Fugitivity in the Asian American Literary Imaginary

Chair: Kai Hang Cheang, University of California, Riverside

As Sau-ling Wong points out in “The Politics of Mobility,” physical movements in the US signify very differently to people of color and their white counterparts. While the mobility of the white settlers in the American frontier provided them with homesteading and entrepreneurial opportunities, for the brown and black populations who were enslaved and/or displaced from their homes by settler colonialism, mobility was mostly invested in fugitivity. This panel seeks to think about Asian American mobility—a topic that is often discussed within the socio-economic framework of upward mobility—through the lens of fugitivity, a concept that Fred Moten theorizes in the context of black studies as a “desire for the outside, for a playing or being outside, an outlaw edge proper to the now always already improper voice or instrument.” The longing for fugitivity is prevalent in Asian American literature too. For instance, Susan Choi’s 2003 novel American Woman presents an account of an Asian American female outlaw on the run with the character of Jenny Shimada navigating her roadmaps for survival while hiding out in the Rockies and the plains. Thinking with such fugitive figures as Jenny, and the topoi of fugitivity writ large, this panel welcome papers that further articulate the contours of (diasporic) Asian American fugitivity: what is its course, directionality, history, and geography? How is it expressed in fiction, poetry, drama, and other literary mediums? And what do these various definitions of fugitivity imply in their respective contexts?

Please email your abstract (max. 250 words) and a brief CV (max. 500 words) to Kai Hang Cheang at by Wednesday, September 19, 2018.