New Book Talk: Racist Love, Asian Abstraction and the Pleasures of Fantasy

CSREA - Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America

CSREA’s New Book Talks highlight new and notable works studying race, ethnicity, and indigeneity from scholars both internal and external to Brown. They facilitate thought-provoking and critical engagement with emerging scholarship. View the entire New Book Talks series lineup here.

In Racist Love, Leslie Bow traces how Asian Americans become objects of anxiety and desire. Conceptualizing these feelings as “racist love,” she explores how race is abstracted and then projected onto Asianized objects. Bow shows how anthropomorphic objects and images such as children’s cartoons, home décor, and AI robots function as repositories of seemingly positive feelings and attachment to Asianness. At the same time, Bow demonstrates that these Asianized proxies reveal how fetishistic attraction and pleasure serve as a source of anti-Asian bias and violence.

After Professor Bow’s presentation, Erica Kanesaka, Assistant Professor of English at Emory University, will moderate a discussion with the audience.

Learn more about the book here.


About the Author

Leslie Bow is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of English and Asian American Studies and Dorothy Draheim Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of the award-winning, ‘Partly Colored’: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South (New York University Press, 2010); Betrayal and Other Acts of Subversion: Feminism, Sexual Politics, Asian American Women’s Literature (Princeton University Press, 2001). Her co-edited volume, The Oxford Handbook of Twentieth-Century American Literature, is forthcoming with Oxford. Her new book, Racist Love: Asian Abstraction and the Pleasures of Fantasy came out with Duke University Press in 2022.

About the Moderator

Erica Kanesaka is a writer, interdisciplinary scholar, and Assistant Professor of English at Emory University. She specializes in Asian American literary and cultural studies, with a focus on the racial and sexual politics of kawaii and cuteness. Her other areas of interest include childhood studies, transnational feminisms, feminist disability studies, and feminist science and technology studies. Her research has received awards from the Association for Asian American Studies and many others.  Kanesaka received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Prior to joining the English Department at Emory, she was a 2021–2022 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University.