Asian American Studies | Asian Diaspora Experience
A201 | 30326 | Dean, D


In “Ghost Song,” Korean poet Ko Un imagines his arrival at the
destination that will turn him into “a ghost with no wings.”  From
his vantage point “on the edge of the jet stream,” Korea appears
undivided, and he thinks, “[S]urely I was once Korean, not Afghani.”
Ko’s poem explicitly asks us to think about whether the very
boundaries that we work to transcend are also paradoxically essential
to our identities; it also implicitly asks us to think about our
connection to an actual geographical place.  These questions have
been central to Asian diasporans who live in two worlds—the one they
find themselves in, which is not always hospitable, and the other
that is kept alive through memory and imagination—and often feel they
belonged to neither.  In a world of rapid globalization where
communications technologies are compressing both space and time,
however, place is being redefined as “networks of social relations
and understandings,” a “nonlimited locality.”  In this course, we
will examine the impact of this paradigm shift on the lives of
individuals, on human communities, and on the natural world.  Among
the books we'll be reading are Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go,
Neela Vaswani's You Have Given Me a Country, and Karen Tei
Yamashita's Circle K Cycles.  For more information, contact Debra
Kang Dean at debdean@indiana.edu.