Bio-orientalism and the Yellow Peril of Yellow Life

Quinn Lester
2021 Catalyst Feminism Theory Technoscience  
While recent literature on Asiatic racial form has drawn attention to the ways that techno-orientalism represents Asian life as mechanically non-human, the COVID-19 pandemic and other developments under the Anthropocene draw renewed attention to the construction of Asian peoples as a source of biological and contagious threat to the West. In this article I argue that a unique discourse of bio-orientalism contributes to the depiction of Asians as a "Yellow Life" that is an existential threat to
more » ... estern forms of life. Western life posits that this Yellow Life must be resisted and ultimately eliminate for the flourishing of all non-Asian life. Through an attention to biological depictions of Asian life in yellow peril literature, I chart how bio-orientalism imagines Yellow Life as ontologically different from Western life forms and as innately animate through both its macroscopic growth and microscopic threat of contagion. Rather than embracing an Asian Americanist response that would also seek to disavow Yellow Life, in a reading of Bryan Thao Worra's poetry I speculate upon embracing Yellow Life as another mode in which Asian American studies imagines otherwise forms of life that challenge and move beyond contemporary Western-centric and humanist responses to anti-Asian racism.
doi:10.28968/cftt.v7i1.34382 fatcat:hfzc5fli6jfg3idqgni4gaulci