Settler colonialism displaces indigenous and exogenous alterities: Cynthia Wu, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Indigenous Displacement and the World War II Japanese American Internment’, Amerasia Journal, 42, 1, 2016, pp. 1-15


Excerpt: The question of how Asian American studies and Indigenous studies might craft a comparative critique is a compelling one. Most scholars understand that as tempting as it might be to subsume the referents of the fields under the umbrella of nonwhite difference, it is much more complicated. First, Asian American studies established itself by uncovering and interpreting a history defined by race-based restrictions on immigration and citizenship. Indigenous studies has focused on colonialism, land dispossession, and genocide. Second, there are significant differences in how the U.S. collective imagination has cast Asian American versus Indigenous people, and the scholarship in the above fields has had to contend with these specificities. The former
population is alternatingly cheap labor, military enemy, perpetual foreigner, and model minority. The latter has also seen shifts in representation across history, but the portrayals are dissimilar; Native Americans are perceived as brutal or noble savages, assimilable heathens, and romanticized relics of the past with no present or future. Given
the structural conditions that have disenfranchised both Asian Americans and Indigenous Americans in differing ways and given the attendant differences in cultural representation, it might seem like there is little shared interest that can inspire either academic critique or activism. However, if we pan out to get a broader picture of how the U.S. nation-state’s actions have impacted both racialized immigrants and Natives, we see that patterns of imperialist capitalism, military force, and carceral violence intimately link both groups.

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