Racial Castration, the first book to bring together the fields of Asian American studies and psychoanalytic theory, explores the role of sexuality in racial formation and the place of race in sexual identity. David L. Eng examines images-literary, visual, and filmic-that configure past as well as contemporary perceptions of Asian American men as emasculated, homosexualized, or queer.
Eng juxtaposes theortical discussions of Freud, Lacan, and Fanon with critical readings of works by Frank Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Lonny Kaneko, David Henry Hwang, Louie Chu, David Wong Louie, Ang Lee, and R. Zamora Linmark. While situating these literary and cultural productions in relation to both psychoanalytic theory and historical events of particular significance for Asian Americans, Eng presents a sustained analysis of dreamwork and photography, the mirror stage and the primal scene, and fetishism and hysteria. In the process, he offers startlingly new interpretations of Asian American masculinity in its connections to immigration exclusion, the building of the transcontinental railroad, the wartime internment of Japanese Americans, multiculturalism, and the model minority myth. After demonstrating the many ways in which Asian American males are haunted and constrained by enduring domestic norms of sexuality and race, Eng analyzes the relationship between Asian American male subjectivity and the larger transnational Asian diaspora. Challenging more conventional understandings of diaspora as organized by race, he instead reconceptualizes it in terms of sexuality and queerness.