All in the family? Asian American designers and the boundaries of creative labor

Thuy Tu

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Abstract

    This article examines the ways Asian American designers imagine their relationship to Asian garment workers and considers the discursive and performative acts that have enabled them to transform obligatory encounters within the marketplace into voluntary relationships that exceed the realm of economic exchange. These include most prominently a performance of kinship that rewrites Asian sewers and contractors into "uncles" and "aunties" who "help out" Asian American designers because they are "their girls." I argue that these exchanges constitute a form of gift-giving that created social bonds and obligations whose functions, while utilitarian, were never purely rational or solely economic. I demonstrate how the performance of the family generated a sense of familiarity and intimacy - between differently located workers and between their different forms of labor - that allowed these constituencies to activate "ethnicity" and "community" across a range of differences.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)279-301
    Number of pages23
    JournalAmerican Quarterly
    Volume62
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 2010

    Fingerprint

    labor
    worker
    intimacy
    gift
    kinship
    performance
    economics
    obligation
    ethnicity
    community
    Designer
    Economics
    Workers
    Asian Americans
    Asia
    Labor
    Gift Giving
    Constituency
    Ethnic Groups
    Kinship

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • History

    Cite this

    All in the family? Asian American designers and the boundaries of creative labor. / Tu, Thuy.

    In: American Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 2, 06.2010, p. 279-301.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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