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miami university
Department of English
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356 Bachelor Hall
Miami University
Oxford, OH 45056
tel:513.529.5221
fax: 513.529.1392
english@miamioh.edu

This page last updated
February 21, 2014

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Yu-Fang Cho

316 Bachelor Hall
Oxford Campus
513 529 6565
choy@miamioh.edu

Yu-Fang Cho

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Dr. Cho’s book, Uncoupling American Empire: Cultural Politics of Deviance and Unequal Difference, 1890-1910, examines how “the marriage question” critically shaped cultural imaginaries of the relationships among Chinese immigrants, African Americans, and white working women when the United States became a trans-Pacific and hemispheric empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book reframes the familiar period construction of Chinese immigrants as “sexual deviants” within new contexts of comparative racial formation shaped by U.S-Asia relations. Foregrounding the triangulation of slavery, yellow slavery, and white slavery as interlocking processes of gendered racial formations, Uncoupling American Empire unravels how white heterosexual monogamy was legally and culturally institutionalized during this period through stigmatizing different sexual practices of people who provided indispensable “unfree” labor to the U.S. labor market. Meanwhile, such historical processes also animated cultural representations that problematized mandatory intra-racial heterosexual monogamy as a viable path toward freedom and equality. By tracing recurring tropes that signify the tension between slavery and marriage in a wide range of cultural representations, including literature, journalism, photographs, political cartoons, and legal documents, Uncoupling American Empire reveals how the systemic divisions among racialized and gendered subjects produced by the period’s key criterion for humanity and U.S. national inclusion—sexual conformity—were negotiated and contested in national and transnational cultural representations about U.S.–Asia relations.