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Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Perverse Modernities) (Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe) Hardcover – 1 Jun 2001


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Review

"[I]ntellectually enlightening look at perceptions of Asian American men."
--A Magazine

"In a brilliant and concentrated collection of psychoanalytic essays, David Eng blurs the constructed boundaries of race, gender, sexuality, and hierarchical subjectivities."
--Frederick Cloyd, "International Examiner"

"A new interpretation of Asian-American masculinity uses psychoanalytic theory, cultural production and historical events to explore the role of sexuality in racial formation and the place of race in sexual identity."
--Columbia College Today

"Eng has 'forever queered Asian American studies, ' compelling Asian Americanists to grapple with the potentially homophobic and nativist grounds upon which Asian Americanism, as a political movement and as a field of study, was founded."
--Crystal Parikh, "Modern Fiction Studies"

"[I]mportant. . . . [T]he value of Eng's most brilliant analyses have less to do with the analystic seeds provided by Freudian or Lacanian theory, seminal though they may be, than with the elegant intellect and astute insights of the author himself as he reworks and expands these frameworks."
--Sunaina Maira, "Amerasia Journal"

"At its best, however, such a work is committed to understanding the United States in relation to diaspora, migration, and the global exchange of culture. . . . [This is] especially true of David L. Eng's remarkable study of Asian-American masculinity. . . . [T]he great strength of Eng's work is his suggestion that the production of Asian-American community in the United States involves the disciplining of the Asian as both laborer and sexual actor."
--Robert Reid-Pharr, "The Chronicle Review"

"[B]oldly initiates inquiry for which this reviewer knows no precedent or peer. Focused on readings of novels, stories, and movies, Eng saturates his wonderfully revelatory interventions with erudite theory, never as end but always as tool. . . . Eng's seminal study should not be ghettoized as merely a landmark text in Asian American studies, though it is that. This study has the potential to open a floodgate for new work in revelatory and empowering readings of masculinity for many groups, periods or genres. Highly recommended . . . ."
--D. N. Mager," Choice"

“David Eng’s excellent book shows not only how psychoanalysis can—and must—read race but how race revises psychoanalytic theory fundamentally. Wide-ranging and lucid, this work offers a theoretically rich set of cultural readings, making us know in new ways the proximities of racial difference, desire, anxiety, and visual representation.”—Judith Butler, University of California at Berkeley

“With consummate lucidity and analytical skill, David Eng demonstrates how intimately related are Asian American identity and generic U.S. nationality—and how central to both are the contestations of masculine subjectivity. A powerful contribution to Americanist and transnational studies, "Racial Castration" more generally demonstrates the potential of psychoanalytic theory as an element in rigorous social critique.”—Phillip Brian Harper, New York University

"David Eng's excellent book shows not only how psychoanalysis can--and must--read race but how race revises psychoanalytic theory fundamentally. Wide-ranging and lucid, this work offers a theoretically rich set of cultural readings, making us know in new ways the proximities of racial difference, desire, anxiety, and visual representation."--Judith Butler, University of California at Berkeley

David Eng s excellent book shows not only how psychoanalysis can and must read race but how race revises psychoanalytic theory fundamentally. Wide-ranging and lucid, this work offers a theoretically rich set of cultural readings, making us know in new ways the proximities of racial difference, desire, anxiety, and visual representation. Judith Butler, University of California at Berkeley"

With consummate lucidity and analytical skill, David Eng demonstrates how intimately related are Asian American identity and generic U.S. nationality and how central to both are the contestations of masculine subjectivity. A powerful contribution to Americanist and transnational studies, "Racial Castration" more generally demonstrates the potential of psychoanalytic theory as an element in rigorous social critique. Phillip Brian Harper, New York University"

From the Back Cover

"With consummate lucidity and analytical skill, David Eng demonstrates how intimately related are Asian American identity and generic U.S. nationality--and how central to both are the contestations of masculine subjectivity. A powerful contribution to Americanist and transnational studies, "Racial Castration" more generally demonstrates the potential of psychoanalytic theory as an element in rigorous social critique."--Phillip Brian Harper, New York University

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Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars says it like no one else 24 Feb. 2002
By ChefBum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I agree largely and almost wholly with the previous and first independent reviewer of this book: Eng's 'Racial Castration' is at times, hyperacademic and perhaps even overly into the realm of philosophy and not social studies. Still, it is a unique, overdue work on the perception of-- and the creation of the perception of-- asian american males in mainstream American society.
I believe that Eng brings up some extremely insightful and heretofore overlooked aspects that are central to 'Asian-american male masculinity' in America. First and foremost is the concept that, as 'queerness' or the 'feminization' of the asian american male is a direct result of the white-male-as-heterosexual-masculine-hegemony. Too often, asian american masculinity and the perception of asian american men in this country deems the denunciation of homosexuality-- 'queerness'-- as essential to acceptance as part of masculine America as a whole. I don't think that any authors to this point have pointed out the inherently intimate relation and intertwining of sexuality and race in this case. To throw out acceptance of gay Asian-America as masculine merely to seek acceptance of "masculine Asian-America" as a whole is a big mistake.
I think that Eng has rightfully pointed out how 'queer' Asian-American males are often left holding the bag as their own Asian-American culture, blind to how 'American culture' as emasculated their own heterosexual men, turns around and rejects the masculinity of their own 'queer' men. And I believe that it is true: Asian American men, queer or straight, face largely the same problems of how their masculinity is perceived in America, and both groups are basically in the same boat in this regard.
Eng's deep delving-- almost reaching?-- into areas that would seemingly be a stretch to relate to his topic (mainly deep psychoanalytical and philosophical theories of the perception/acceptance/rejection of self) are somewhat difficult to grasp, but I believe that they are germane because they do largely reinforce the elusive depth at which stereotypes of asian-american masculinity are adopted, inculcated, and reinforced from outside.
I believe that Eng has quite aptly addressed his stated mission of exploring the 'Racial Castration' of Asian American men in America, and I laud 'Racial Castration' as a theoretically seminal work. It is also aptly named. The only shame is that it will almost certainly be marginalized as 'academia', as it is written to be almost completely inaccesible to the general public, i.e., the average American. And while it does attack the theoretical/philosophical problems of the perception of asian-american masculinity in America, it probably won't do very much in the way of practically addressing what IS inherently an everyday, concrete social and political issue. *Real* social change won't occur in the ivory towers of academia, but with average Americans! Still, if it raises the awareness of even a few individuals who read it, it will have gratifyingly served its purpose.
It has raised mine; and for this reason, this book is a keeper in my collection!
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding, but very challenging, text 5 April 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The first thing you'll notice about this book is its long, slender shape and atypical print. This is a big sign of how everything about this book is fresh and unique. Eng's book finally provides a gay male perspective on the burgeoning field of Asian-American studies that Robert Lee and Lisa Lowe have helped to introduce. It also adds an Asian-American take on the growing number of masculinity studies about men of color. Eng employs classic psychological theories to look at how cross-historical cultural works portray Asian-American men. I'm so excited that Eng had the vision to bring this book into existence. However, let the reader by forewarned! Eng is a hardcore, postmodernist, poststructuralist, hyperacademic theorist. I have a degree in gay studies from an Ivy League school and still portions of this book went right over my head. Don't think for a second that you can hand this book to some Asian-American friend just coming out like you could with Helen Zia's "American Dreams" or even Eng's previous book "Q&A". Also, the apolitical or homophobic straight Asian male reader may be upset at how much this book is focused on gay Asian-Am men, rather than Asian-Am men of all sexualities. Still if you enjoy highly scholarly books about gays and lesbians of color (like Munoz' "Disidentifications" or Delroy-Simms' "Greatest Taboo"), then you'll find Eng's book very worthwhile.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 23 Nov. 2015
By Pen Name - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eng's book is a must have for anyone working in the fields of race and sexuality.
14 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately less satisfying than one would hope 22 Oct. 2004
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although in some ways provocative, this book poses a question it never adequately grapples with--namely, can the "materiality" of race be properly characterized or understood as a "discursive limit" to ideological constructions of ethnicity without being understood as existing outside of discourse? It seems to me that Eng fails to address the question of whether such constructions may be regarded as either a pre- or extra-discursive "hard kernel of the Real," one the one hand, or simply another aspect of discourse, on the other hand. His work would benefit from a more thorough engagement with, and analysis of, the "objet petit a" in the work of Zizek and Lacan. Perhaps "race" in general ought to be regarded a primordial psychic "hole," an "absence" or pure negativity where a "grounding" for discourse ought to be but proves to be lacking. Unfortunately that is a proposition that Eng hints at but does not explore.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read this book, only if you're a college professor 13 Feb. 2008
By B. Chu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book by all mean is not intended for lay-man audience. This book delve deep into psychology and the work of Freud which make it hard to follow by lay-man readers.

My advice is, do not pickup this book unless you're a college professor or have a degree in social psychology.
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