• 268 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • 1 halftone
  • Price: $39.95
  • EAN: 9781439920947
  • Publication: Mar 2021
  • Price: $110.50
  • EAN: 9781439920930
  • Publication: Mar 2021
  • Price: $39.95
  • EAN: 9781439920954
  • Publication: Mar 2021

Ocean Passages

Navigating Pacific Islander and Asian American Literatures

Erin Suzuki
  • Outstanding Achievement in Literary Studies from the Association for Asian American Studies, 2023

In her pathbreaking book , Ocean Passages, Erin Suzuki explores how movement through—and travel across—the ocean mediates the construction of Asian American and Indigenous Pacific subjectivities in the wake of the colonial conflicts that shaped the modern transpacific. Ocean Passages considers how Indigenous Pacific scholars have emphasized the importance of the ocean to Indigenous activism, art, and theories of globalization and how Asian American studies might engage in a deconstructive interrogation of race in conversation with this Indigenous-centered transnationalism.

The ocean passages that Suzuki addresses include the U.S. occupation and militarization of ocean space; refugee passage and the history and experiences of peoples displaced from the Pacific Islands; migratory circuits and the labors required to cross the sea; and the different ways that oceans inform postcolonial and settler colonial nationalisms. She juxtaposes work by Indigenous Pacific and Asian American artists and authors including James George, Maxine Hong Kingston, Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, lê thi diếm thúy, Ruth Ozeki, and Craig Santos Perez. In Ocean Passages, Suzuki explores what new ideas, alliances, and flashpoints might arise when comparing and contrasting Asian and Pacific Islander passages across a shared sea.


“Erin Suzuki masterfully demonstrates that the diverse subjects who undertake multiple ‘passages’ across and through oceanic space—including migrants, settlers, islanders, refugees, and the nonhuman denizens of the Pacific, among others—exceed the limited categories generated by transnational capitalism’s impoverished imagination. In emphasizing how transpacific exchange has been materially and imaginatively shaped by Indigenous Pacific knowledges, Ocean Passages highlights kinesthetic, experiential, and nonlinear epistemologies drawn from both Indigenous and Asian American histories, practices, and texts. The project’s commitment to treating these distinct archives in relation to one another addresses some of the blind spots in current transpacific studies and Asian American studies, introduces us to the richly diverse writers and thinkers of Oceania, and constitutes a stunning example of decolonial transpacific critique.” Tina Chen, Director of the Global Asias Initiative at Penn State University, and author of Double Agency: Acts of Impersonation in Asian American Literature and Culture

“Ocean Passages examines how movement within, through, and across the Pacific Ocean mediates the subjectivities of Asian American and Indigenous Pacific communities in the wake of colonial conflicts that have shaped the region. Through a sustained analysis of how various narratives of ‘ocean passages’ disrupt and revise hegemonic constructions of the Pacific, Suzuki demonstrates what new orientations, concepts, and openings can emerge by bringing Asian and Pacific Islander passages across the same sea into a critical analytic of relation…. Ocean Passages demonstrates how transpacific studies can evolve and continue to be a generative framing for counterhegemonic, decolonial research across disciplines.” Lateral

"Through her skillful handling of these passages, Suzuki provides routes that gives due value to both Indigenous Pacific and Asian diasporic perspectives. She does not seek to resolve their disjuncture but to revitalize their engagement. Her rigorous and grounded navigation of these literatures is an important exercise in expanding the critical purchase of the field and 'transpacific,' ensuring its contemporary relevance.... Ocean Passages is an important offering at the intersection of Asian American, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, diasporic, and transpacific studies." The Journal of Asian Studies

"Suzuki underscores the importance of engaging Native studies and Indigenous peoples—not as neglected areas and objects of study but as subjects of knowledge and invaluable kin.... Each chapter likewise is a remarkable weave of information and interpretation.... Ocean Passages deftly engages a complex issue: how to treat the Pacific, and passage more generally, as a distinct phenomenon but not an empirical positivity.... Reading across Asian American and Pacific Islander literatures is vital for this project. Suzuki shows us how to distill sustenance from their richness, making Ocean Passages a necessary wayfinder to Pacific futures."The Journal of American Folklore

"Ocean Passages is a timely book that will be of interest to scholars and students of Indigeneity, race, and diaspora across the fields of ethnic, Native, Asian American, and Pacific studies. It is, in particular, essential reading for Asian Americanists. In addition to Suzuki's superb literary analyses, her book asks pointed questions about a field's relationship—or perhaps its obligations—to Oceanic peoples and places. This reckoning has been a long time coming (calls for the disaggregation of the AAPI acronym are now decades old and still unresolved)." —Native American and Indigenous Studies

"Ocean Passages break(s) new ground in the fields of Indigenous and Asian American studies. Moreover, by highlighting ways in which these fields are fundamentally connected...Suzuki make(s) a compelling case for the intellectual and ethical necessity of a comparative approach that takes stock of the various forms of expression, resistance, and cross-racial solidarity born from shared experiences of physical and discursive violence.... Suzuki reframe(s) our analysis of these conjoined histories to yield generative models for how we might pursue a decolonial future."MELUS

About the Author(s)

Erin Suzuki is an Assistant Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego.

In the Series

Critical Race, Indigeneity, and Relationality

Edited by Antonio T. Tiongson Jr., Danika Medak-Saltzman, Iyko Day, and Shanté Paradigm Smalls, Critical Race, Indigeneity, and Relationality showcases comparative studies of race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity in projects that take a self-reflexive approach in their deployment of relational frameworks and analytics. The series spotlights projects that theorize the imbrication of settler colonial logics with other structuring logics such as franchise colonialism, racial chattel slavery, neoliberal capitalism, ableism, Islamophobia, heteropatriarchy, and the carceral and surveillance state. The series does so in order to complicate the canon of comparative race scholarship and nuance normative iterations of women of color feminism and queer of color critique. For these reasons, the series seeks projects that are grounded in, and build on, the theoretical insights and methodologies of women of color feminism and queer of color critique as they engage with Native theorizing, Indigeneity, and settler colonial paradigms. Critical Race, Indigeneity, and Relationality steers away from the familiar means of evoking and excavating patterns of similarities and differences to publish works that provide an alternative interpretive grid for comparative work—one that is acutely attuned to historical conjunctures, structural disjunctures, and power asymmetries.

Proposals may be submitted to Shaun Vigil, Editor, Temple University Press

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