How did the work of a group of revolutionary socialist Black feminists called the Combahee River Collective (CRC) in 1977 lead to the critical legal concept of intersectionality introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1991? While theorists from Angela Davis to Asad Haider locate the pivot from Marxism to Post-Marxism sometime between the CRC and Crenshaw, others such as Cedric Johnson see the CRC statement as characteristic of a 1960s’ standpoint epistemology that already entailed a race-reductionist evasion of the question of Black (and minority) life under capitalism. How 60s’ standpoint epistemology was a product of the age of Asian revolutions may shed light on the sources of this still ambiguous concept of “simultaneous, interlocking oppressions” — its limits and possibilities for theorizing the materiality of race as a social relation. So too may we come to understand why the woman of color, and even the Asian American woman specifically, came to symbolize the nature of that materiality. In my account of the encounter between U.S. Third World feminism and global Maoism, the rise of Asian American fictionality has an important part to play.
Colleen Lye (Ph.D., Columbia, 1999) is associate professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of America’s Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945 (Princeton University Press, 2005), a study of the making of “Asiatic racial form” through the mutual influence of literary naturalism and U.S. immigration and foreign policy in an era of U.S. expansion across the Pacific. Her current book-in-progress is a literary history of the Asian American subject of 1968.
Lye is a member of the editorial boards of Representations, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies and Verge. Her book America’s Asia was the recipient of the Cultural Studies Book Award (first prize) from the Association of Asian American Studies, a finalist for the John Hope Franklin Prize from the American Studies Association, and selected as a Choice magazine outstanding academic title. She is the co-editor of several special journal issues: Forms of Asia (with Christopher Bush, Representations, 2007) Financialization and the Culture Industry (with C.D. Blanton and Kent Puckett, Representations, 2014), Peripheral Realisms (with Joseph Cleary and Jed Esty, MLQ 2012), The Humanities and the Crisis of the Public University (with Christopher Newfield and James Vernon, Representations, 2011), and The Struggle for Public Education in California (with Christopher Newfield, SAQ, 2011), which won the MLA’s Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Award for Best Special Issue of 2011.