Title

Resistance, Activism, and the Killjoy: Criticism of Hegemonic Happiness in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange

Lead Author Major

English

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Xiaojing Zhou

Faculty Mentor Department

English

Abstract/Artist Statement

In her novel Tropic of Orange, Karen Tei Yamashita uses narratives of activism to highlight various forms of resistance through major characters. By focusing on Yamashita’s portrayal of characters such as Rafaela Cortes and Manzanar Murakami, I investigate the ways in which both direct and indirect forms of resistance are present throughout the novel. Drawing from Sara Ahmed’s theory of the “Feminist killjoy” and on the idea of happiness in connection to capitalist hegemony, I argue that Rafaela and Manzanar serve as the catalyst for a call for resistance to the ideas of happiness, and to the racial position of the “Model Minority.” Thus, this paper will focus on resistance to racial subordination and exploitation, which undermine normative ideal happiness based on consumerism and materialism. Furthermore, I will call attention to the politics of multiculturalism that elides inequality of race and gender, and the legacy of colonialism in transnational migration of labor and capital. I will highlight how challenging the dominant idea of happiness can deconstruct and undermine ideologies underlying raced and gendered exploitation and subjugation.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

26-4-2014 1:00 PM

End Date

26-4-2014 4:40 PM

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Apr 26th, 1:00 PM Apr 26th, 4:40 PM

Resistance, Activism, and the Killjoy: Criticism of Hegemonic Happiness in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

In her novel Tropic of Orange, Karen Tei Yamashita uses narratives of activism to highlight various forms of resistance through major characters. By focusing on Yamashita’s portrayal of characters such as Rafaela Cortes and Manzanar Murakami, I investigate the ways in which both direct and indirect forms of resistance are present throughout the novel. Drawing from Sara Ahmed’s theory of the “Feminist killjoy” and on the idea of happiness in connection to capitalist hegemony, I argue that Rafaela and Manzanar serve as the catalyst for a call for resistance to the ideas of happiness, and to the racial position of the “Model Minority.” Thus, this paper will focus on resistance to racial subordination and exploitation, which undermine normative ideal happiness based on consumerism and materialism. Furthermore, I will call attention to the politics of multiculturalism that elides inequality of race and gender, and the legacy of colonialism in transnational migration of labor and capital. I will highlight how challenging the dominant idea of happiness can deconstruct and undermine ideologies underlying raced and gendered exploitation and subjugation.