Scholars producing historical scholarship on race must confront and acknowledge the archives as a site of racialization themselves. How do we fight the colonialist and imperialist imperatives of history when the goals of its structures are to naturalize certain hierarchies of race? How do we negotiate our reliance on archives that often only included racialized subjects through lenses of suspicion? Is it possible, in other words, for a history of the racialized body to speak differently? A Race So Different, by Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson, and The Racial Mundane, by Ju Yon Kim, suggest that performance studies offers alternatives.

Chambers-Letson’s book organizes itself around the law, while Kim’s book is organized around the everyday, but both use performance studies to explore the contested territory of Asian American historical subjectivity. History relies disproportionally on extant materials, which in turn tend to amplify...

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