Purdue University Graduate School
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Performance and Performativity: Navigating Race, Labor, and the American Dream as Vietnamese Americans

thesis
posted on 2024-04-20, 21:30 authored by Brandy N LeBrandy N Le

How do we navigate complex social situations? What tools, strategies, and experiences do we use in our attempts to connect with each other? This project delves into the pervasive nature of performativity in everyday life, particularly within the context of Vietnamese Americans navigating predominantly white geographies in the Midwest. Drawing from theories of performance, spatial dynamics, labor geography, and racial capitalism, this project explores how Vietnamese Americans strategically leverage their identities and cultural heritage in spaces such as Vietnamese restaurants. These performances serve as strategies for survival and legibility, shaping both economic prosperity and social recognition within marginalized communities. The research questions posed aim to uncover how marginalized bodies utilize performance to navigate white spaces, leverage specific performances in socially constructed spaces, and negotiate the complexities of the American dream across generations. Situated in the Midwest, this project particularly focuses on Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, where Asian American communities often contend with hypervisibility as racialized Others and spatially isolated exclusion. By examining performance and performativity as lived practices, I shed light on the cultural reproduction and negotiation of spaces within Asian American communities in the Midwest.

History

Degree Type

  • Master of Science

Department

  • Anthropology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Andrew Flachs

Additional Committee Member 2

Kali Rubaii

Additional Committee Member 3

Monica Trieu