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Chong Chon-Smith


Professor Chon-Smith’s research and teaching interests include 20th/21st Century American literature & social movements, comparative racialization and cultural production, and structured militarization & narratives of healing. His monograph, East Meets Black: Asian and Black Masculinities in the Post-Civil Rights Era (University Press of Mississippi, 2015), is the first interdisciplinary book on Asian and black masculinities in literature and popular culture. Professor Chon-Smith teaches courses in multiethnic literatures, literary theory, Asian American literature and popular culture, Afro-Asian imagination, and race & modernity.

East Meets Black examines the making and remaking of race and masculinity through the racialization of Asian and black men, confronting this important white stratagem to secure class and racial privilege, wealth, and status in the post-civil rights era. Asian and black men in neoliberal America are cast by white supremacy as oppositional. Through this opposition in the US racial hierarchy, I argue that Asian and black men are positioned along binaries brain/body, diligent/lazy, nerd/criminal, culture/genetics, student/convict, and technocrat/athlete in what I term “racial magnetism.”

Via this concept, East Meets Black traces the national conversations that oppose black and Asian masculinities, but also the Afro-Asian counterpoints in literature, film, popular sports, hip-hop music, performance arts, and internet subcultures. I highlight the spectacle and performance of baseball player Ichiro Suzuki within global multiculturalism and the racially coded controversy between Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal in transnational basketball. Further, I assess the prominence of martial arts buddy films such as Romeo Must Die and Rush Hour that produce Afro-Asian solidarity in mainstream Hollywood cinema. Finally, I explore how the Afro-Asian cultural fusions in hip-hop open up possibilities for the creation of alternative subcultures, to disrupt myths of black pathology and the Asian model minority.

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