Asian American stereotypes as circulating resource

Angela Reyes

Abstract

Drawing on theories and methods in linguistic anthropology, this paper examines the ways in which circulating stereotypes of Asian Americans emerge as resources in conversations among Asian Americans. Specifically, this paper analyzes two video-recorded interactions at a videomaking project in Philadelphia’s Chinatown to trace how Asian American teen participants invoke Asian American stereotypes, orient to them in various ways, and reappropriate them to: 1) position the self and other relative to stereotypes; 2) construct stereotyping as an oppressive practice to resist or as an interactional resource to celebrate; and 3) bring about interactional effects from widely circulating stereotypes (e.g., Asian storeowner) that are different from those from locally circulating typifications (e.g., Asian minivan driver), what I call widespread typifications and local typifications, respectively. By interrogating the very notion of stereotype as a performative resource, this paper illustrates how Asian American stereotypes can be creatively reappropriated by Asian American teens to accomplish meaningful social actions.

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