The Yoonmee Chang Memorial Lecture

The Yoonmee Chang Memorial Lecture will host a distinguished speaker annually in honor of Yoonmee's memory and her work. Yoonmee Chang (November 2, 1970 – January 18, 2018) was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in New York.  She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 with a specialization in Asian American diasporic literature and culture.  As a graduate student at Penn, she was an instrumental leader in the founding of the Asian American Studies Program.  Yoonmee, author of the critically acclaimed book, Writing the Ghetto: Class, Authorship, and the Asian American Ethnic Enclavetaught at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana before becoming an Associate Professor at George Mason University from 2005 until her death in 2018.

Our 2019 speaker is Cynthia Wu, presenting “When Home Is Another Prison: A Draft Resister’s World War II Diary”:

Takashi Hoshizaki was one of dozens of young men at Heart Mountain Relocation Center who refused military service during World War II in order to protest the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans.  This presentation examines a diary Hoshizaki kept while awaiting trial, showing that he and the other resisters strategically presented themselves in ways that aligned with a politics of respectability—as refracted through indigeneity, blackness, and sexual non-normativity.  Yet, breaches of this self-fashioning did occur through the resisters’ homosocial play.  The different carceral registers—the internment camp, the municipal jail, and the federal prison—are enmeshed in this imagination.  They also lay bare their own links to the military.

Cynthia Wu is an associate professor of Gender Studies and director of the Race, Migration, and Indigeneity program at Indiana University.  She is the author of Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture (Temple, 2012) and Sticky Rice: A Politics of Intraracial Desire (Temple, 2018).