In Decolonizing Forms: Linguistic Practice, Experimentation, and U.S. Empire in Contemporary Asian American and Pacific Islander Literature, I examine Asian American and Pacific Islander experimental writings that address the United States' histories of militarization and neo/colonialism in Asia and Oceania. I argue that the authors' deployment and representation of linguistic practices form the crux of their experimentations, enact specific critiques of the U.S. imperium in its many permutations, and attend to ongoing decolonial efforts. The experimentations in the texts combat what I term American solipsism, or the inability of the American public discourse to recognize any nations, occupied spaces, or U.S. actions that cannot be absorbed into American exceptionalist reasoning; the works I analyze demand readers to re/acknowledge or re-conceptualize the United States' relationships with the Philippines, Korea, Guam, and Hawai`i. I argue that these authors are attending to the structures of imperialism that have shaped life and history for Asian/American and Pacific Islander populations and further that the shape of their experimentations reflect the shape of empire and the texts' and characters' decolonial practices. Specifically, I argue that linguistic experimentation is the tool by which the authors deploy a decolonial aesthetics precisely because the authors are highlighting the linguistic practices and policies of imperialism. I contribute to scholarship by addressing experimentation in genres beyond poetry; each chapter focuses on one main text with a different experimental narrative form: novel, novel with narrative poetry, lyrical poetry, and multi-genre composition.
In Chapter 2, I argue that the neocolonial martial law state in Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters (1990) uses gossip as a tool of terror, reflecting Governor-General William Howard Taft's (1901-1904) documented uses of gossip to govern the Philippines, influencing Philippines leadership through today. Counter to a critical tradition that claims gossip as a feminized discourse that provides women agency, I argue gossip serves a patriarchal-military government invested in subordinating citizens through fear via unofficial rumor and gossip.
In Chapter 3, I argue Cathy Park Hong's Dance Dance Revolution (2007) presents a female tour guide's use of poetry in a fictional creole language to trouble official versions of history, bypassing mediation by western historians. I argue that the layers of mediation highlight U.S. mediation of successes and failures in the "Forgotten War" and its aftermath.
In Chapter 4, I argue Lisa Linn Kanae's collaboration with graphic designer Kristin Lipman in Sista Tongue (2001) and their radical citational practice offer a critique of academic discourse. I argue that Kanae and Lipman call not only for a more inclusive, creative dialogue within scholarly inquiry especially as pertains to Pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English) language usage, but also a decolonization of scholarly publication.
In Chapter 5, I argue Craig Santos Perez's poetry book series, from Unincorporated Territory (2008, 2010, 2014), integrates translation acts into his work as an aesthetics of interconnectedness in Oceania. I argue Perez's incorporation of translation into his poems enacts a form of situated waymaking, as his words replicate space not only semiotically, but also work together to resemble a sea of islands.