James Kyung-Jin Lee, "Pedagogies of Woundedness: Illness, Memoir, and the Ends of the Model Minority" (Temple UP, 2021)


The pressures Asian Americans feel to be socially and economically exceptional include an unspoken mandate to always be healthy. Nowhere is this more evident than in the expectation for Asian Americans to enter the field of medicine, principally as providers of care rather than those who require care. Pedagogies of Woundedness: Illness, Memoir, and the Ends of the Model Minority (Temple UP, 2021) explores what happens when those considered model minorities critically engage with illness and medicine whether as patients or physicians.

James Kyung-Jin Lee considers how popular culture often positions Asian Americans as medical authorities and what that racial characterization means. Addressing the recent trend of writing about sickness, disability, and death, Lee shows how this investment in Asian American health via the model minority is itself a response to older racial forms that characterize Asian American bodies as diseased. Moreover, he pays attention to what happens when academics get sick and how illness becomes both methodology and an archive for scholars.

Pedagogies of Woundedness also explores the limits of biomedical “care,” the rise of physician chaplaincy, and the impact of COVID. Throughout his book and these case studies, Lee shows the social, ethical, and political consequences of these common (mis)conceptions that often define Asian Americans in regard to health and illness.

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Shu Wan

Shu Wan is currently matriculated as a doctoral student in history at the University at Buffalo. As a digital and disability historian, he serves in the editorial team of Digital Humanities Quarterly and Nursing Clio. On Twitter: @slissw.

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