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thursday class thoughts

swati's picture

class today was amazing! thank u ~nkechi~ and anne! 

the last barometer statement we discussed today was about how Binh was "... exoticized into obscurity (and) obscures the way other people can see you". i'm thinking about this in two ways: (i) with reference to his father and being haunted by the Old Man and (ii) sexuality and Binh's identity as part of a queer diaspora. 

pg 193: "every day, i hear the Old Man's voice shouting at me from beneat the earth, where, I tell myself, he now lies." Binh's father is constantly admonishing him, shaming him for his homosexuaility and his struggle with his own sexuality is apparent in this. 

the second part is about sexuality and orientalism. my thoughts here are drawn from Edward Said and the Introduction on Orientalism. "It is hegemony, or rather the result of cultural hegemony at work, that gives Orientalism the durability and the strength. Orientalism is never far from what Denys Hay has called the idea of Europe,' a collective notion identifying "us" Europeans as against all "those" non-Europeans, and indeed it can be argued that the major component in European culture is precisely what made that culture hegemonic both in and outside Europe: the idea of European identity as a superior one in comparison with all the non-European peoples and cultures. There is in addition the hegemony of European ideas about the Orient, themselves reiterating European superiority over Oriental backwardness." (

the superiority is super apparent when comparing Binh's relationship with the Sweet Sunday Man to Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas's relationship. the former is a constant source of turmoil and conflict for Binh but latter is accepted, "unusual" (truong 20) at worst. the juxtaposition of asian and western sexualities here magnifies and enhances said's argument of the Orientalist view of oppresed Asian sexuality within the western context. western queer diasporic subjects are inherently easier to accept than "oriental" ones. 

anyway this is what i was thinking about in class. see you all tomorrow!