AAS_in_Focus--March_12

AAS_in_Focus--March_12 - Asian American Studies in Focus...

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Asian American Studies in Focus Student Showcase Friday, March 12, 2010. 12-2 p.m. EP 116 Organizer and Chair: Jonathan H. X. Lee Discussant: Wei Ming Dariotis Presenters: Fragrant Rice Queen: the Hungry Ghost of Anna Leonowens, and Thai/America [2009] Pahole Yotin Sookkasikon SFSU AAS current MA student Abstract As a part of the cultural fabric of the United States, the narrative of Anna Leonowens (1831 – 1915) has had much staying power with Western audiences. Known as the English Governess of the Siam (contemporary Thailand), her narrative captivated U.S. viewers with travel writings filled with exoticism and intrigue. What is generally perceived of this tale is that the Governess was an English lady in Colonial India; was enlisted to educate the Siamese royal court in the Western ways; and finally published two extremely seductive and popular memoirs based on her transitory stay in Siam in the United States. Although she had no direct ties to the U.S. prior to her visit, her chronicles were filled with American-promoting rhetoric which celebrated U.S. ideologies, while simultaneously created a monster in Siam and her monarchy— King Mongkut (Rama IV; 1804-68). Additionally, U.S. admirers of Leonowens’ chronicles became so infatuated with the narrative that some re-imagined her tale; recreating adaptations filled with much more pro-American rhetoric and racist ideologies for contemporary audiences. The unequivocal relationship that was created between the United States and Siam has thus become an unsettling graveyard of imperial power relations and skewed historical facts which are haunted by the hungry ghost of Anna Leonowens and victimizes the contemporary Thai/American community to this day. In my study, I examine the lingering effects of
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AAS_in_Focus--March_12 - Asian American Studies in Focus...

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