Front cover of Against Exclusion: Disrupting Anti-Chinese Violence in the Nineteenth Century by Audrey Wu Clark, featuring the book's title and subtitle against an orange-yellow background.

Against Exclusion

Disrupting Anti-Chinese Violence in the Nineteenth Century

Audrey Wu Clark

200 pp. 6 x 9
EXPECTED Pub Date: September, 2024

Subjects: Literary Studies, American
Asian and Asian American Studies
Race & Ethnic Studies

Preorder Hardcover $99.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1562-3
Preorder Paperback $34.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5926-9

“Rich in historical detail, Against Exclusion establishes a model for Asian American literature/culture criticism that showcases the intellectual potential of interdisciplinary, historically situated scholarship of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century cultural production. A deeply engaging, original work.” —James Kyung-Jin Lee, author of Pedagogies of Woundedness: Illness, Memoir, and the Ends of the Model Minority

“Uncovering interesting links between early Chinese American figures, the exceptional minority stereotype, and the exceptionalism of nineteenth-century liberalism, Clark makes a case for contextualizing the current day’s Asian hate crimes and the ways in which Asian Americans continue to be racialized within this nineteenth-century exceptionalist discourse.” —Hyesu Park, author of Alterity and Empathy in Post-1945 Asian American Narratives: Narrating Other Minds

In Against Exclusion, Audrey Wu Clark dramatically reframes Asian American resistance via the lives of five early Chinese American public figures. In contrast to later activists who sought to defy stereotypes, Ah Toy, Mary Tape, Wong Chin Foo, Yan Phou Lee, and Yung Wing deployed the model minority and yellow peril tropes to make themselves visible during a period of rampant anti-Chinese violence and legal exclusion. In making themselves visible, they sought to expose and dismantle the contradictory exceptionalism of nineteenth-century US liberalism that both required and “disavowed” the deaths of Chinese Americans.

In examining these figures and the ways in which they fought their exclusion as Chinese Americans—via court cases, autobiographical writings, journalism, and other forms of activism—Clark contributes to prevailing scholarly conversations about stereotypes of Asian Americans but contextualizes them in the nineteenth century. She traces the twinned emergences of the model minority and the yellow peril, excavating the exceptionalism with which Chinese Americans were racialized and subject to death—whether by lynching, other forms of driving out, or loss of citizenship or rights—and mapping its reverberations into the present day.

Author photo

Audrey Wu Clark is Associate Professor of English at the United States Naval Academy. She is the author of Asian American Players: Masculinity, Literature, and the Anxieties of War and The Asian American Avant-Garde: Universalist Aspirations in Modernist Literature and Art.



Introduction    “Violence and the Sacred”

Chapter 1        Ah Toy and Mary Tape: Legal Exceptionalism and Early Chinese American Women’s Voices

Chapter 2        Wong Chin Foo: The Excessive Making and Remaking of a Heathen Protofeminist

Chapter 3        Trauma and Activism: Yan Phou Lee Writes Back

Chapter 4        Yung Wing: Exceptional Minority Discourse in the Plague Era

Conclusion      The Enfleshed Exceptions


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