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The 1980s and 1990s are a historically crucial period in the development of Asian Canadian literature. Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literature Production in the 1980s and 1990s contextualizes and reanimates the urgency of that period, illustrates its historical specificities, and shows how the concerns of that moment–from cultural appropriation to race essentialism to shifting models of the state–continue to resonate for contemporary discussions of race and literature in Canada. Larissa Lai takes up the term “Asian Canadian” as a term of emergence, in the sense that it is constantly produced differently, and always in relation to other terms–often “whiteness” but also Indigeneity, queerness, feminism, African Canadian, and Asian American. In the 1980s and 1990s, “Asian Canadian” erupted in conjunction with the post-structural recognition of the instability of the subject. But paradoxically it also came into being through activist work, and so depended on an imagined stability that never fully materialized. Slanting I, Imagining We interrogates this fraught tension and the relational nature of the term through a range of texts and events, including the Gold Mountain Blues scandal, the conference Writing Thru Race, and the self-writings of Evelyn Lau and Wayson Choy.
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