This dissertation explores the radical and queer voices of Asian American women rock musicians and influencers who are often sidelined in scholarship on American popular music by articulating local, national, and transnational forces on racial formation, musical affects, and Asian American experiences. It unsettles the idea that Orientalized aesthetics and affects are tools only for nefarious agendas by exploring how a number of Asian American women artists transform musical Orientalism into a political form of art. In so doing, I argue that these musicians devise novel and socially efficacious ways to effectively debunk the myth of Asian American apoliticism. Over the course of four chapters, my case studies range from the “oriental riff” to post-punk’s postmodern experimentations, from the first notable Asian-women-fronted rock band Fanny to recent musical ventures like Japanese Breakfast and the Drag-On Ladies, and from musical movements such as women’s music, queercore, and riot grrrl to Los Angeles’ Chinatown and Little Tokyo. Through articulating the relationship between sound, race, and affect with these case studies, I contend that the sounds, affective inscrutability, and diasporic sensibilities of Asian America have powerfully redefined U.S. radicalism and challenged hegemonic formulations of what musical activism looks like, feels like, and sounds like.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2021. Major: Communication Studies. Advisor: Gilbert Rodman. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 243 pages.
Sounding Orientalism: Radical Sounds and Affects of Asian American Women Who Rock.
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