Troubling Borders

An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora

Edited by Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Lan Duong, Mariam B. Lam, and Kathy L. Nguyen

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  • $49.95 hardcover (9780295993195) Add to Cart
  • Published: 2014
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; Art History
  • Bibliographic information: 284 pp., 62 color illus., 7 x 10 in.
  • Contents

Third place in the Association for Borderlands Studies Best Book Award

Pairing image and text, Troubling Borders showcases creative writing and visual artworks by sixty-one women of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Thai, and Filipino ancestry. The collection features compelling storytelling that troubles the borders of categorization and reflects the multilayered experience of Southeast Asian women.

The diverse voices featured here have been shaped by colonization, wars, globalization, and militarization. For some of these women on the margins of the margin, crafting and showing their work is a bold act in itself. Their provocative and accessible creations tell unique stories, provide a sharp contrast to familiar stereotypes - Southeast Asian women as exotic sex symbols, dragon ladies, prostitutes, and "bar girls"-and serve as entry points for broader discussions on questions of history, memory, and identity.

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Isabelle Thuy Pelaud is associate professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University; Lan Duong is associate professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside; Mariam B. Lam is associate professor of comparative literature, media and cultural studies, and director of Southeast Asian studies, at the University of California, Riverside; and Kathy L. Nguyen is a writer and editor in San Francisco.

"This book will have a major impact in multiple fields with an intersectional and nuanced evaluation that brings together race, gender, nation, labor, and migration. Timely, productive, provocative, and incontrovertibly interdisciplinary, it will expand the current purview of Southeast Asian/American literary studies."
-Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, author of War, Genocide, and Justice

"Troubling Borders gathers an amazing number of powerful selections of literary writing and visual art. I am struck by how moving, how political, how diverse these selections are. They bear witness to the hauntings of empire and fill gaps in our understanding of the life and imagination of Southeast Asian women. I am awed by this collection."
-Nguyen-vo Thu-huong, author of The Ironies of Freedom

Preface by Shirley Geok-lin Lim

Introduction by Mariam B. Lam, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Lan Duong, and Kathy L. Nguyen

Part One Wombs and Wounds: Family Relations in the Diaspora

Karen Llagas, Open
Vi Ly, Terrain 15 and Terrain 17
Karen Llagas, Manananggal
Vi Ly, Postpartum #5
Phayvanh Luekhamhan, Rubber Bands
Ann Phong, Mending
Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen, Mother Shell
Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen, Flesh of My Flesh
Linda Saphan, Togetherness
Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen, 30
Diep Tran, Visitation
Julie Thi Underhill, Tra Cang Monastery
Diep Tran, Schools
Diep Tran, Tet 1976
Kao Lee Thao, Way of Life
Anh-Thu Ngo, Profile of the Life Tree
Julie Thi Underhill, Grandma
Heang Ly, The Lotus Gift
Amy Lee Sanford, Broken
Tran Mong Tu, Letter after Thanksgiving
Kou Vang, Widow
Phayvanh Luekhamhan, April, 1993
Kao Lee Thao, Yukai
Phayvanh Luekhamhan, Foreman v. Moorer
Amy Lee Sanford, Suspended
Phet Mahathongdy, Mother Love
Anne Le, Spool
Phuong M. Do, Self and Aunts
Christilily Chiv, My Mother's Hands Bleed
Kou Vang, Letter from Laos
May Lee-Yang, Correspondence from Laos
Tran T. Kim-Trang, Still from Epilogue: The Palpable Invisibility of Life

Part Two Coming to Voice: Language, Writing, Literacy

Marine Ky, Untitled VI (such as you are, so is the world)
Jai Arun Ravine, and then entwine lesson plans, poems, knots
Marine Ky, Ted's Garment
Karen Llagas, From a Lighthouse Keeper
Linda Saphan, S-21 No Flying Away 1
Barbara Jane Reyes, polyglot incantation
Linda Saphan, S-21 No Flying Away 2
Linda Saphan, S-21 No Flying Away 3
Tran Tue Quan, Cuoc noi chien cua nhung identities
Tran Tue Quan, The civil war of identities
Phuong M. Do, Self and Uncles
Souvankham Thammavongsa, The Sun in Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away
Reanne Estrada, Keep It Together #5
Souvankham Thammavongsa, This Is the Direction

Part Three Homes and Homelands

Gina Osterloh, Impossible Delineation (from the series Blank Attempt)
Karen Llagas, Archipelago Dust
Gina Osterloh, Anonymous Front (from the series Copy Flat)
Anne Le, In the Heart of the Country
Gina Osterloh, Blind Rash (from the series Rash Room)
Anne Le, The Fish Houses at Go Vap
Tiffany Chung, Go Vap
Vo Hong Chyong-Dai, National Highway 1 (Vietnam, December 1996)
Hong-An Truong, Description #3 (Three Clocks)
Vo Hong Chyong-Dai, The Corner of Nguyen B nh Khiem and Tue T nh (Ha Noi, 2005)
Kou Vang, Forgotten
Vo Hong Chyong-Dai, Across the ocean and beyond the mind
Anida Yoeu Ali, Palimpsest for Generation 1.5 (performance)
Phayvanh Luekhamhan, I Think of This Every Time I Think of Mountains
Azizah Ahmad, Homeless
Gina Osterloh, Looking Back, I Accepted Your Invitation (from the series Somewhere Tropical)
Anh Thang Dao, Song for a Lost Home
Anh Thang Dao, The Pigeon Scandal
Jenifer K. Wofford, Point of Departure (Nurse with Cap)
Jenifer K. Wofford, Curtain Nurse I

Part Four Loving Sex/Sexing Love

Angela Narciso Torres, Cardiac
Debbie Nguyen, Dark Green
Connie Pham, The Story of Pomegranate Told in Three Pieces
Debbie Nguyen, Plum
Lian Guow, First and Last Times
Kao-Ly Yang, Three Pearls Facing Unfaithfulness
Debbie Nguyen, Wood
Chau Nguyen, Kisses of Heat
Tran T. Kim-Trang, Still from Kore
Mong-Lan, On the Tango and Buenos Aires

Part Five Militarized Lives

Yer Yang, Virgin Land, Virgin Body
Hong-An Truong, Still from Wheel in the Sky
Aimee Phan, Excerpt from The Reeducation of Cherry Truong
Anida Yoeu Ali, Palimpsest for Generation 1.5 (performance)
Pimone Triplett, The Rumor of Necessity
Hong-An Truong, Florida 1979 (Love You, Miss You a Lot)
Gayle Romasanta, NutDriver
Hong-An Truong, Florida 1978 (Goes to Heaven)
Kathy L. Nguyen, Excerpt from The Inheritors
Barbara Jane Reyes, Call It Talisman (If You Must)

Part Six Asians in America

Lin + Lam, This Is Not Me
Azizah Ahmad, A Letter to Asian America
Melba L. Abela, God Bless America
Azizah Ahmad, San Francisco
Anne Le, Chinatown
Julie Thi Underhill, Progress Report
Linda Tran, The Flea Market
Ann Phong, Box of Water 2
Melba L. Abela, San Francisco Ab(ove) Normal, 1967-2007
Marsha C. Galicia-Monroe, #6-Other Female
Ann Phong, Boats

Part Seven Race, Roots, Religion

Nalyne Lunati, Sea Ghost
Barbara Jane Reyes, In the City, a New Congregation Finds Her
Hong-An Truong, Description #4 (Three Figurines)
Davorn Sisavath, The Value of a Catholic Education
Nalyne Lunati, Kranok 1
Julie Thi Underhill, Corner Shore
Nalyne Lunati, Vihara of the Mind
Reanne Estrada, General Tri-Corn (6)
Pimone Triplett, Motherland
Eliza O. Barrios, Industry of Yoga series
Grace Talusan, Boobie Cakes
Eliza O. Barrios, Pending

Part Eight Travel Narratives and Narratives That Travel

Linda Saphan, Amey on Bike
Chi Vu, Suitcases
Julie Thi Underhill, Fear of Ambivalence
Mai Der Vang, The Sounds of Leaving
Rachel Qu Collier, Salt Lake
Reanne Estrada, Tenuous (tentatively titled)
Pang Houa Moua Toy, Leaving Home
Anida Yoeu Ali, Palimpsest for Generation 1.5 (installation view)
Mai Der Vang, From Within, a View

Part Nine Speech Acts: Labor, Activism, Resistance

Mail Order Brides / M.O.B., Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride (Flowers)
Connie Pham, Quarterlife Crisis: A Quiet Activism
Emily P. Lawsin, No Moments of Silence (In Memory of Joseph Ileto, Fong Lee, and Chon Buri Xiong)
Linda Saphan, Incognito 31
Emily P. Lawsin, Where I Am From (Freewrite Remix)
Melba L. Abela, International Worker
Tiffany Chung, Here We Go
Grace Kong, I Demand Respect
Tiffany Chung, Bubble Shooter and Friends
Grace Kong, Miss Boss
Mail Order Brides / M.O.B., Education Reform
Karen Llagas, Imelda
Lin + Lam, Stills from Unidentified Viet Nam No. 18
Leakhena Leng, Give Me Your Best Performance Piece
Lin + Lam, Stills from Unidentified Viet Nam No. 18
Leakhena Leng, Breathing Fire Performance Piece
Mail Order Brides / M.O.B., Through the Looking Glass

About the Contributors and Editors

"The anthology is possibly the first of its kind to integrate visual art and literature spanning multiple generations and nationalities. The combination of image with texts complementing and conversing with each other provides a textured, layered engagement with the subject matter."
-Kriti Bajaj, Art Radar Asia

"This inspiring anthology of short stories, poems, paintings and photographs uses a collage of art forms to portray varied and usually under-represented, female identities. The focus, as the title conveys, is on Southeast Asian diasporic women, predominantly in the USA.... The strength of Troubling Borders is that it shows how marginalized women have become empowered through their fervent and thought-provoking artwork and writings, both of which should appeal to postcolonial scholars of either genre."
-Journal of Postcolonial Writing

"The wide variety of stories told dispel stereotypes and take on the complex challenges of colonialism, militarization, love, resistance, family, migration, and more. They reveal the intersectional and multilayered experiences of Southeast Asian women in the diaspora."
-NBC Asian America