Takeo RiveraSep 19, 2023
Model Minority Masochism
Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity
Oxford University Press 2022
There are few grand narratives that loom over Asian Americans more than the “model minority.” While many Asian Americanist scholars and activists aim to disprove the model minority as “myth,” author Takeo Rivera instead rethinks the model minority as cultural politics. Rather than disproving the model minority, Rivera instead argues that Asian Americans have formulated their racial and gendered subjectivities in relation to what Rivera terms “model minority masochism.” Examining hegemonic masculine Asian American cultural performance across multiple media, from literature and theater to videogames and activist archives, Rivera details two complementary forms of contemporary racial masochism: a self-subjugating masochism which embraces the model minority, and its opposite, a self-flagellating masochism that punishes oneself for having been associated with the model minority at all. Listen in as we discuss his book Model Minority Masochism: Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity (Oxford UP, 2022)
Julia H. Lee is professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of three books: Interracial Encounters: Reciprocal Representations in African and Asian American Literatures, 1896-1937 (New York University Press, 2011), Understanding Maxine Hong Kingston (University of South Carolina Press, 2018), and The Racial Railroad (New York University Press, 2022). With Professor Josephine Lee, she is co-editor of Asian American Literature in Transition, 1850-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2021), a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2022. You can find her on Twitter @thejuliahlee.