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Grant number like: FEL-281373-22

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Long Thanh Bui
Regents of the University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA 92617-3066)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2022 – 12/31/2022

Model Machines: The Asian as Automaton in Technocultural History

Research and writing leading to a book on how Asians and Asian Americans have been construed in American culture as robotic machines.

Model Machines explores the ways Asians and Asian Americans have been construed as robotic machines in history, from the 19th century to the 21st century. As the first historical monograph on this topic, it mines the ideological work behind the trope of what I am calling the "model machine." This stereotype and myth, I argue, shaped public perceptions and policies, determining the treatment of Asians as objects or things to be exploited, excluded, or exterminated. By tracking this technocultural figure across time and space, I interrogate the operations of racial capitalism behind the Western gaze. The book offers case studies concerning the representation of Chinese coolies as "labor machines," Japanese soldiers as "war machines," Asian women as "sex machines," Asian new capitalists and migrants as "virtual machines" and Asian neoliberal workers as "global machines." I contend that the model machine helps understand how people are rendered as sub/human as a measure of US imperialism.