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There’s Something About Lucy: On Asian American Cultural Politics, Gendered Racialization, and Neoliberal Critique in Ally McBeal and Elementary

  • Author(s): Lu, Derek V.
  • Advisor(s): Hong, Kyungwon
  • et al.
Abstract

This project explores the cultural politics of Asian American representation on mainstream television through the examination of two characters Chinese American actress Lucy Liu has played – Ling Woo from Ally McBeal and Joan Watson from Elementary. By employing a reading practice that refuses the conventional language of representation, I instead unpack the work that culture performs affectively, ideologically, and politically. I contend that Ling and Joan both resonate as Asian American racial formations in that they are economically hyperproductive but emotionally damaged and consequently inhuman. In engaging with interdisciplinary scholarship on Asian American cultural studies, critiques of neoliberalism, and theories of affect, I am able to delineate the importance of cultural productions as a site for articulating processes of gendered racialization, exposing neoliberal violence(s) and forming new desires, epistemes, and subjectivities.

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