Madness/Disability as “Spectral Presence” in The Woman Warrior: Confusing Hegemonic Categories Through a Mad Asian American Modality
Keywords:Maxine Hong Kingston, women of color feminisms, blurring, Mad/crip of color critique, haunting
Following queer crip theorists like Sami Schalk, Aurora Levins Morales, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, this piece roots genealogies and origin stories of Disability Studies and Mad Studies in women of color feminist scholarship-activism. I offer an analysis of Maxine Hong Kingston’s enactment of a Mad Asian American modality in The Woman Warrior to locate examples of how women of color feminisms shift conceptual, methodological, pedagogical, and activist frameworks on Madness/disability. By thinking together Nirmala Erevelles’ historical materialist perspective on haunting with Yen Li Loh’s conceptualization of The Woman Warrior’s Mad women as “inhuman ghosts” (2018, 231), I assert that Kingston’s Mad Asian American modality blurs distinctions between human/nonhuman, past/present/future, and discourse/matter. Through the stories of Maxine and her family, Kingston engages in what I read as a form of Mad/crip of color critique, calling attention to the failure of whitestream Mad/Disability Studies to examine the entanglement of race, gender, and Madness/disability under the white supremacist settler colonial state. Kingston’s method of blurring reveals that the radical potential of Madness/disability lies in the ways that marginalized bodymind difference generatively confuses binary categories of eurowestern worldview and creates alternative modalities for living, being, and relating outside of white supremacist colonial cisheteropatriarchy.
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