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Cultural Compass by Martin Manalansan


Cultural Compass by Martin Manalansan

Cultural Compass re-writes the space of Asian Americans. Through innovative studies of community politics, gender, family and sexual relations, cultural events, and other sites central to the formation of ethnic and citizen identity, contributors reconfigure ethnography according to Asian American experiences in the United States. In these eleven essays, scholars in anthropology, sociology, ethnic studies, and Asian American studies reconsider traditional models for ethnographic research. Drawing upon recent theoretical discussions and methodological innovations, the contributors explore the construction and displacement of self, community, and home integral to Asian American cultural journeys in the late twentieth century. Some discuss the unique situation of doing ethnographic work \u0022at home\u0022 -- that is researching one's own ethnic group or another group with Asian America. Others draw on rich and diverse field experiences. Whether they are doing homework or fieldwork, contributors reflect on the ways that particular matters of identity -- gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, age -- play out between researchers and informants. Individual essays and the book as a whole challenge the notion of a monolithic, spatially bounded Asian American community, pointing the way to multiple sites of political struggle, cultural critique, and social change.


Innovative, informative, and intelligent, the essays in the collection reconfigure ethnography according to the experiences of Asians in the United States. Individually, they provide incisive portraits of the various Asian American communities; collectively, they chart new directions for a critical Asian American ethnography that attends to multiple strategies and readings and to multiple sites of political struggles, cultural practices, and social activism. -Yen Le Espiritu, author of Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Laws, and Love Cultural Compass is a thought-provoking collection that effectively stages ethnography as a means of interrogating bounded notions of community and identity, setting new terrains of debate for the geographies of transnationalism and its study. It promises to be of great value not only for Asian American Studies and Anthropology, but for interdisciplinary work in Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies and Diaspora Studies as well. -Kamala Visweswaran, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin A pioneering anthology, this book foregrounds ethnography's pivotal contributions to critical inquiry in Asian American Studies, Ethnic Studies and American Studies. The essays articulate the dilemmas and possibilities that arise when minoritarian subjects write about our own communities, adding fresh voices to contemporary discussions of ethnography in Cultural Studies and in the social sciences. -Dorinne Kondo, Professor of Anthropology and American Studies and Ethnicity; Director, Asian American Studies at the University of Southern California, and author of Crafting Selves: Power, Gender, and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace and About Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater

About the Author

Martin F. Manalansan is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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Book Info

Publication date

13th June 2000


Martin Manalansan

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Temple University Press,U.S.


265 pages


Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography
Physical anthropology
Ethnic studies



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