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Asian American 1960s


Within Asian American Studies and beyond, the late 1960s-technically 1968 to 1977 or so, which historians have identified as the period of the Asian American movement-are a topic of increasing historical fascination and recovery. How might Asian American literary studies be renewed by a reconsideration of the Asian American 1960s? This question may at first seem to be a perverse one, since it is generally more conventional to think of Asian American literary studies as having come into its own to the extent that it had managed to free itself from the political discourse of the Asian American 1960s. Indeed, what the Asian American 1960s had heretofore seemed to bequeath to Asian American literary studies was cultural nationalism, masculinism, and crude sociological ways of reading literature, an antidote to which was to be found in the intellectual resources provided by (British cultural studies-mediated) French theory. For a time, the provenance of the latter and their routes of transmission lent the impression that what was at stake in the conflicted maturation of Asian American Studies was a split between high theory and local practice, between new ivory tower sophisticates and older communityoriented activists, or, disciplinarily speaking, between a literature-based cultural studies and a history-based one.1.

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