OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 12 , No. 1

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 62-90
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2022
Received 29 Nov 2021 Revised 28 Dec 2021 Accepted 28 Jan 2022
DOI: https://doi.org/10.14431/omnes.2022.01.12.1.62

Remapping Cultural Configurations of Imagined Community in Toshio Mori’s Yokohama, California and Abraham Verghese’s My Own Country
Uirak Kim
Yong In University, South Korea

Funding Information ▼

Abstract

Negotiations of Asian American community identity formations are a significant problematic in Asian American literature. My study traces the ways in which Asian American community is shaped by Asian American cultural productions and is concerned with how literature about Asian Americans informs community constructions along ethnicities, regions, occupations, gender, and sexual orientation. As more Asian Americans participate and become visible in American culture, ethnic identifications and configurations of Asian American communities become more diverse and fluid. Asian American communal affiliations are not simply formed around regional marginalization as the first Chinatowns were, but are also formed along commonalities of age, religions, class, gender, sexuality, professional identities, and political ideologies. While noting the importance of historically and geographically mapping Asian American communities to trace experiences of immigration and acculturation of Asians in America, I argue that the cultural constructions of such communities are determined and shaped by how Asian American literary narratives imagine them. In Toshio Mori’s Yokohama, California, I look at a literary representation of a mono-ethnic community. Mori recovers and fictionalizes a pre-WWII Japanese American community. His stories depict how the ethnic insularity of that community is complex, sheltering and stifling the independent creative and philosophical minds of writers. Abraham Verghese’s memoir My Own Country depicts a diasporic immigrant Asian American who in his everyday world negotiates identifications with multiple communities. While America has exercised an influence on Asia, in the late twenty-first century we are also seeing how Asia is re-imagining American culture and a mythic “America.”


Keywords: Toshio Mori, Yokohama, California, Abraham Verghese, My Own Country, Asian American

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the 2021 Yong In University Research Foundation Grant.


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Biographical Note

Uirak Kim received his Ph.D. at the University Arkansas, Fayetteville in Department of English Language and Literature. He is currently Professor at Yong In University in Gyeong Gi Province, Korea. As a Fulbright professor, he taught multiculturalism and Postcolonialism at Yale University. He wrote dozens of books on postcolonialism, translated several books and published 40 kinds of papers. His academic interest lies in postcolonialism, multiculturalism, regional and global diaspora, criticism, literature, and interpretation in general.E-mail: kimura@yongin.ac.kr