Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Pail of Oysters III

Published version of this post available here (pdf).

2 comments:

Daniel said...

Interesting stuff. So many Westerners have the goal of explaining Asia, and often this entails developing an simple, undiverse interpretation of the place. Even the concept of "Asia", (as a distinct place sharing values and racial similarities) seems like a Western idea sometimes, a collecting together of countries that often don't seem to feel much similarity to each other.

Jonathan Benda said...

Thanks! Yes, I guess that's one of the main features of Orientalism--the idea of explaining Asia and of dominating it discursively as well as physically. There's something of that in how Michener could interview people from all over South, North, East, and Southeast Asia and still title his book The Voice of Asia.

There's a degree to which I can accept the feeling at the time that Americans had to speak to other Americans "on behalf of" people from Asia. There weren't too many Asians that white Americans were interested in listening to (though I believe there were a few, as Klein documents). But of course attempting (or presuming) to speak on behalf of other people carries with it a multitude of difficulties. (As expat bloggers, we need to keep this is in mind! And I include myself in that "we"...)