Sex, Time, and the Transcontinental Railroad: Abstract Labor and the Queer Temporalities of History 2
2016. "Sex, Time, and the Transcontinental Railroad: Abstract Labor and the Queer Temporalities of History 2", Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism, Iyko Day
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Chapter 1 establishes the book’s foundational claim that the economism of Asian racialization arises from a temporal alignment of Chinese bodies with abstract labor, which has implications for what constitutes socially necessary labor time. Analyzing Richard Fung’s Dirty Laundry: A History of Heroes alongside Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men, two works about Chinese labor on the transcontinental railroad, the chapter explores the interchangeability of Chinese labor, time, and money. Focusing on the range of gender and sexual substitutions represented in these texts, the chapter argues that these works demonstrate how the abstract racialization of Asian alien labor is established through their alignment with a perverse temporality. While Fung’s and Kingston’s works expose the fungibility of alien labor conditioned by biologized notions of time, they also point to the queer potential of History 2 that resides within abstract labor but does not reproduce the logic of capitalism.