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Hybridity, Hyphenation and Mixed-Race Identities

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Published in Vanessa Guinery. Hybridity: Forms and Figures in Literature and the Visual Arts. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press. 2011, p. 103-117
Abstract In 1993, Time magazine published what it called “The New Face of America”, a computer simulation of a mixed-race person who would be the result of decades of immigration and intermarriage. This issue of the magazine also ran stories with titles like “The Global Village Finally Arrives” and “Intermarried … With Children.” This issue of hybridity has also been taken up by Kip Fulbeck in his “Hapa Project”, which brought together photos and self-descriptions by people of complex mixed-race backgrounds. Despite such attention from popular media and scholarly publications alike, the ethnic profile of the US continues to be conceptualized according to a model that I want to call “mono-hyphenation”. The process of hybridization or “Americanization” is expressed rhetorically as an integral part of the migration experience every time an individual is referred to as “Asian-American” or “Irish-American” or even “African-American”. Yet individuals, like the hapas photographed by Fulbeck, are increasingly identifying themselves as, for instance, “Asian-Irish-African-Americans” in a process not of mono- but of “multi-hyphenation”. The question I want to pose is: why does the institution of literary study continue to promote an increasingly unsustainable, mono-hyphenated, understanding of ethnicity in the wake of large-scale immigration? And, how can the conservative preference for mono-hyphenated ethnicities over complex mixed-race or “hapa” people be resisted? Are pan-ethnic cultural coalitions possible? How would such a coalitional model translate into the terms of a transnational, post-ethnic, hemispheric American Studies?
Keywords EthnicityPost-nationalismMixed-race identitiesHybridityHyphenationAmerican Literary Studies
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MADSEN, Deborah Lea. Hybridity, Hyphenation and Mixed-Race Identities. In: Vanessa Guinery (Ed.). Hybridity: Forms and Figures in Literature and the Visual Arts. Newcastle upon Tyne : Cambridge Scholars Press, 2011. p. 103-117. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:75240

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Deposited on : 2015-09-18

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