Visualization of Ethnicity: Beyond What You See
Pak, June Youngboon
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For my doctorate research, I am investigating discursive analyses of ethnic visibility, particularly of the hyphenated ethnic subject living in a Western society. As Rey Chow points out, becoming visible in this “post-race” era is no longer simply a matter of having visual representation but more importantly it is a matter of reconfiguring the power dynamic between the centre and margins. In order to elaborate the contentious issues of being visible, I am working through the hyphenated ethnic subject’s dilemma in this dissertation. On the one hand, if she accepts her ethnic visibility, that is remaining in the categorization of being the Other, she will end up participating in the institutionalization of ethnicity. On the other hand, if she denies the categorization of being ethnic, that is being invisible, blending with the rest, she will have to face the danger of being accused of becoming “too westernized” or “white-washed.” My research is a twofold approach. First, I investigate theoretical writings in order to analyze various elements — ethnicity vs. race, hyphenation, multiculturalism — that contribute to this dilemma. Second, I’m using my art works — The Invisible Transformation Project (ITP) and June on June: a script — to perform invisibility in order to raise questions about the identity formation process: What does it mean to be visibly different from others? Can ethnic (non-white) artists sustain their criticality through works beyond the ethnic lens?