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The Exquisite Corpse of Asian AmericaBiopolitics, Biosociality, and Posthuman Ecologies$
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Rachel C. Lee

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479817719

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479817719.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America

Rachel C. Lee

NYU Press

This introductory chapter analyzes Lois Ann Yamanaka's poem series, “Parts” and the contemporary cadaver exhibits popularly known as “Body Worlds.” Both of them confront audiences with the human body as fragment, and with the idea of corporeality as divisible and biology as plastic and manipulable. The chapter argues that Asian Americanist critique and certain strains of bioethics have made ethical, political, and moral claims vis-à-vis these body parts; and they have done so through a distinctive rhetorical move that putatively returns the extracted body part to the violated racialized whole—a move that naturalizes a prior state of organic intactness and individuality to that racialized body. It alsoinquires whether literary criticism and performance studies remains humanist if they think in terms of distributed parts rather than organic structures, or, turn fragment and substance into patterns—circulations of energy, affects, atoms, and liquidity in its accounting of the soma.

Keywords:   Lois Ann Yamanaka, Parts, cadaver exhibits, Body Worlds, human body, fragment, plastic, Asian American, organic intactness, soma

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