115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Performing Prosumption: Decolonizing Latina/o-Asian Identities, (Hi)stories, and ‘Texts’ in Virginia Grise's Rasgos Asiaticos and Karen Tei Yamashita's Circle K Cycles 

Megan Nieto, University of Texas at San Antonio

By examining Latina/o-Asian consumption and production in twenty-first century literature and performance, I argue that writer Karen Tei Yamashita and performer Virginia Grise illustrate the emancipatory potential of the critical, active, and agentive consumption and production of (im)material goods.


My paper titled “Performing Prosumption: Decolonizing Latina/o-Asian Identities, (Hi)stories, and ‘Texts’ in Virginia Grise's Rasgos Asiaticos and Karen Tei Yamashita's Circle K Cycles” examines Latina/o-Asian identities, experiences, and enactments of decolonial consumption and production, broadly imagined, in literature and performance. In Southwest Asia: The Transpacific Geographies of Chicana/o Literature, Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue argues, “The interracial elements between Mexican Americans, Asians, and Asian Americans in Chicana/o literature over the last seven decades reveal that these groups are not as divorced as early critiques of borderlands culture insist, nor are they as removed as traditional paradigms of area or ethnic studies suggest” (22). I agree with Gonzales Sae-Saue and seek to further extend this approach by analyzing Japanese Brazilian American literature, experiences, and identities in addition to China-cana/o (Chinese-Mexican-American) performance, experience, and identities.

My paper examines how China-cana performer and playwright Grise comments on the Chinese-Mexican(-American) consumption and production of both material and immaterial goods to decolonize knowledge, gender, and being in Rasgos Asiaticos (2011). Many lines from this play also appear in Grise’s autogeography, published in The Panza Monologues (2004, 2014), co-written by Grise and Irma Mayorga and performed by the former. Here, Grise further examines her China-cana identity living and growing up in San Antonio, Texas. I am interested in how Grise questions and (re)constructs her identity in Rasgos Asiaticos and in her space-centered, testimonio-like autogeography by revealing silenced and largely unreachable family (hi)stories. Yamashita’s Circle K Cycles (2001), a text that centers on the experiences of Japanese Brazilians who travel to Japan (a country many have never visited before) to work “dirty, difficult, and dangerous” jobs, similarly disrupts traditional notions of space, place, identity, (hi)story, race/ethnicity, and genre. Yamashita asserts that these categories are not stable nor simple, and her hybrid, transnational, post-modern text shows how food production, preparation, and consumption interacts with (de)coloniality. I argue that both Grise and Yamashita show how embrace of one’s Latina/o-Asian identity through the decolonial consumption and production of (im)material goods can be emancipatory and generative, though each also stresses the clashes between and within Latina/o and Asian (American) groups and individuals.