Asian American Elsewheres: Placeness, Confrontations, and Continuations

Lucy Burns
Asian American Studies
UC Los Angeles

Following the lead of Asian American artists Karen Yamashita, Eiko Otake (known as Eiko), and Andrew Tuan, this project traces the “unruly geographies” (k. chuh) of Asian American creative imaginaries, places beyond and at the margins of the US continent where Asian America encounters its disavowed histories of colonialism and empire. With the UCHRI Faculty Summer Research Funding, I plan to travel to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukushima, and Japan, sites of a chapter in my current book project, Asian American Elsewheres. This research focuses on the contexts undergirding Yamashita’s performance texts and Eiko’s site-specific performance require a place-based approach (participatory observation, sensory inquiry, walking) and close engagements with archives. It converses with UCHRI’s “Refuge and Refusal” theme as it explores how Asian American artists contend with and unsettle how spaces become officially constituted into a territory such as “nation.” This interdisciplinary inquiry considers the place and placeness of Asian America as it explores the cartographic contours of Asian American creative imaginaries. It also tugs at the tension between Asian American artists as diasporic, immigrant artists-subjects, but also as global-thinking, global-facing artist-subjects who claim a stake in political, moral, and ethical debates consuming the world and our times.