An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms
Ohio State University Press 2012
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Asian American StudiesNew Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books Network March 20, 2015 Christopher Patterson
Wen Jin’s book, Pluralist Universalism: An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms (Ohio State Press, 2012), compares histories and modes of multiculturalism in China and the United States. Whereas many see few correlations between China’s ethnic policies and the multiculturalist policies of the U.S., Wen Jin brings these narratives and histories together to show their common themes. In attempting to incorporate diverse bodies into a state project, both multiculturalisms make their respective countries seem exceptional in their tolerance and acceptance of diverse peoples. Through this comparison, Wen Jin offers a rich study of multiculturalism that allows readers to see its more tangible form, rather than to see one as superior to the other. Wen Jin does this by reading literary narratives that feature a “double critique,” in that they are critical of both the U.S. and China for deploying discourses of diversity in order to justify and rationalize state power. Ultimately, Pluralist Universalism provokes forms of conciliatory or official multiculturalism and leads us to question the very identity politics that has formed the basis of globalization and capitalist growth in the 21st century.