Akda: The Asian Journal of Literature, Culture, Performance


racial contingency, neoliberal multiculturalism, Asian American theater, Young Jean Lee, unorthodox dramaturgy


The article addresses the predicament of what I refer to as “racial contingency” in Asian American theater and how such conception draws critical attention to the naturalizing of neoliberal multiculturalism. Utilizing “racial contingency” as a critical lens to examine the emerging wave of Asian American artists, this essay explores Young Jean Lee’s identity politics theater as a counter-ideological project that responds to neoliberal multiculturalism. It aims to explore her “unorthodox” dramaturgy as critical aesthetic embodied in her latest Broadway success, Straight White Men (2015), which expresses (quoting her own line) “a sick way of thinking” that is deemed as both a symptom and a critique of racial contingency in neoliberal multiculturalism. By demonstrating the ways in which racial subjects have become racially contingent in Asian American theater, the essay argues that Young Jean Lee’s identity politics theater generates from while also responding to the rhetoric of neoliberal multiculturalism.

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