Associate 2010-11

Susan Koshy

Asian American Studies

Late Multiculturalism and Its Discontents

When Professor Koshy refers to late multiculturalism, she describes both the complex multicultural realities of the post-civil-rights era and the general sense that while our social realities and consciousness have been transformed, we remain uncertain about the meaning of these transformations. By tapping into emergent domains of feeling and thought, she is writing a book that addresses how the works of contemporary writers represent the discontents of late multiculturalism.

The book is conceived in three main sections, with each taking up a major social trope:

• Invisibility, through which civil-rights-era injustices were articulated, has given way to erasure or disappearance.
• The alien, transformed from a negative condition to a vehicle for new transnational or cosmopolitan identities.
• The body, focusing on writers who imagine the power of art or science to transmute the biological realities of racial embodiment.

During her Center appointment Professor Koshy will work on the third section, which deals with the novels of Richard Powers, Maxine Hong Kingston, Octavia Butler, and Neal Stephenson.

This book project contributes new insights and materials to a number of scholarly fields: postmodern literary studies, studies of race and ethnicity, theories of globalization, race and new media studies, and contemporary American Studies. It offers new frameworks for the study of the postmodern crisis of representation and calls attention to interrelations among art, politics, and law.