This article considers how the act of staying in, rather than going (or coming) out, gives shape to the racial performativity of Asian American asociality. What the author calls “Asian American asociality” speaks to how Asian Americans have been racially figured as a problem for and of sociality, as assimilated yet socially isolated, unrelatable subjects. Asian American asociality is not a refusal of the social, the relational, and the minoritarian world-making possibilities they hold. Instead, it is a means of inhabiting and navigating the social and relational differently to critique the contemporary liberal mandate for minoritarian subjects to be visible and legible, as well as the compulsion for those same subjects to be sociable and relatable for the sake of radical collectivity and affiliation. The article examines the music, video, performances, and social media presence of singer-songwriter Mitski and poet and writer Ocean Vuong, whose expressions and articulations of staying in, which might otherwise be read as awkward, distant, or cold, are playful, caring experimentations with what constitutes the social and relational as such.
Staying In: Mitski, Ocean Vuong, and Asian American Asociality
Summer Kim Lee is a Mellon Faculty Fellow in English and creative writing at Dartmouth College. She has published and forthcoming work in Women and Performance, ASAP/Journal, and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian American and Pacific Islander Literature and Culture.
Summer Kim Lee; Staying In: Mitski, Ocean Vuong, and Asian American Asociality. Social Text 1 March 2019; 37 (1 (138)): 27–50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-7286252
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