Transitive Cultures: Anglophone Literature of the Transpacific (Hardcover)
Texts written by Southeast Asian migrants have often been read, taught, and studied under the label of multicultural literature. But what if the ideology of multiculturalism—with its emphasis on authenticity and identifiable cultural difference—is precisely what this literature resists?
Transitive Cultures offers a new perspective on transpacific Anglophone literature, revealing how these chameleonic writers enact a variety of hybrid, transnational identities and intimacies. Examining literature from Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, as well as from Southeast Asian migrants in Canada, Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland, this book considers how these authors use English strategically, as a means for building interethnic alliances and critiquing ruling power structures in both Southeast Asia and North America. Uncovering a wealth of texts from queer migrants, those who resist ethnic stereotypes, and those who feel few ties to their ostensible homelands, Transitive Cultures challenges conventional expectations regarding diaspora and minority writers.
— Belinda Kong
“An original introduction to twenty-first century literary criticism, Transitive Cultures illuminates for the first time the diachronic nodes of globalization, re-orienting its history in Southeast Asia, to link Asian decolonizing discourses with American disaporic, queer, and critical cultural studies.”
— Shirley Geok-lin Lim
"Transitive Cultures deals with Anglophone Southeast Asian literature as complex cultural practices critical of multicultural governance handed down by Western colonialism. A deftly drawn map for approaching the most trenchant literary works of the region, Patterson's book is a much-needed guide for navigating the endless crisis of our ever-globalizing world."
— Vicente L. Rafael
New Books in Asian American Studies podcast interview with Christopher Patterson
— New Books in Asian American Studies podcast
"Transitive Cultures is especially and unreservedly recommended for college and academic library Contemporary Sociology collections, as well as the supplemental studies reading lists in Asian American Studies, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Race and Ethnic Studies."
— Midwest Book Review
"New Scholarly Books: Weekly Book List, May 25, 2018" by Nina C. Ayoub
— Chronicle of Higher Education
"Especially welcome is how Patterson’s transpacific frame helps to intensify rather than dilute the stakes of race, gender, and sexuality in texts that have most often been approached as national minority literatures....Patterson’s book offers new ways of reading and providing new modes of racial, gender, and sexual belonging that attend to the complexities and contradictions brought to light through a transpacific reframing of nation and transnation."
— American Literary History
"Patterson’s critical perspectives on the institutionalization of diversity and multiculturalism make Transitive Cultures a necessary read for all given how these concepts permeate U.S. culture and are often used to uphold the Western, white hegemony they claim to fight against."
— Popular Culture Review
"Transitive Cultures joins a growing number of scholarly essays and monographs arguing for greater attention to Southeast Asian literary and cultural production on many fronts. It makes a timely intervention into the field of contemporary literary studies by offering both a critical and an oceanic paradigm with which to illuminate the existing and emerging connections between Southeast Asian authors and texts and the promises and pitfalls of a globalizing world."
— Contemporary Literature
"A rigorous comparative study of literature and a theoretically astute analysis....Transitive Cultures is a well-grounded, systematically organized investigation that offers a perceptive reconceptualization of minority literature and is particularly helpful for scholars of Asian American studies, Southeast Asian studies, theories of diaspora, postcolonialism, critical cultural studies, and beyond."
— Journal of Asian American Studies