Manu Vimalassery on Iyko Day’s Alien Capital: MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, 64, 1, 2018, pp. 198-201


Excerpt: Operating in a framework that crosses the Canada-US border, Alien Capital argues that Asian Americans personify abstract value in North American settler colonial capitalism and provide a racial target for the anxieties of settlers reacting to capitalist abstraction. Day’s argument hinges on the ways that settler colonial glorification of the concrete—as exemplified in whiteness and the nuclear family and revolving around settler appropriations of indigenous relations with place (in which settlers substitute themselves as native)—manifests anxieties concerning the contradictions of settler capitalism. Settlers displace these anxieties onto variously racialized aliens, violently associating Asian bodies with the domination of capitalist abstraction. Elimination and exclusion, Day convincingly argues, are interlinked modes of settler colonialism. “Asians,” she writes, “are as unnatural to the landscape as Indigenous peoples are natural. This is the double edge of settler colonialism” (112). I understand North American settler sovereignty to be a reactive set of future-oriented claims articulated and levied against indigenous relationalities, which I call counter-sovereignty. Day’s argument helps me understand that alien desires, as queer desires, potentially disrupt settler futurity, and given the fact and necessity of ongoing indigenous existence to the stability of settler colonialism, futurity is all that settlers can actually claim. Settler sovereignty is preemptive. Alien desires, then, potentially disrupt settler sovereignty, and anti-Asian racism anxiously lashes out in the present against the possible displacement of settler futures.

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