By Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson
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Extra info for A Race So Different: Performance and Law in Asian America
If the 36 / “that may be japanese law, but not in my cou ntry” argument can be made that Madama Butterfly is a relic of another era, I would suggest that the Met’s mediated promotion and hyperdistribution of Minghella’s production refutes this assumption. In other words, Butterfly has not left the building, and she does not show signs of doing so anytime soon. Act I. “American Hardware”: Exclusion in Long’s House on Higashi Hill As a manifestation of the United States’ juridical unconscious, one could say that Long’s 1898 novella is a text in which a US American lawyer imagines a Japanese woman imagining herself as she performs in response to US law.
It is offered as a contribution to the project of understanding and historicizing the technologies of Asian American racialization in order to critically dismantle them and to bring about greater conditions of social justice. Most importantly, however, by analyzing and documenting a series of Asian American performances, the following pages make up a record of resilience and possibility. For if performance is the means by which racialization comes into being in and on the body, performance can also be a radical practice for rehearsing and realizing the long-deferred promises of justice and emancipation.
30 Cho-Cho-San repeatedly petitions Pinkerton to allow for her relatives to enter the home. 31 “that may be japanese law, but not in my cou ntry” / 39 It should be noted that while much of the early exclusion legislation specifically targeted the Chinese, these technologies were expanded to similarly exclude other immigrants. 32 Reading a narrative about a Japanese character alongside Chinese exclusion law and jurisprudence can be a useful exercise insofar as it helps to clarify the ways in which the domestic dispute in Long’s novella functions as an “allegorical narrative” significant of the national and legal debates born from “collective thinking” and, more specifically, collective anxieties about Asians in America.