Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Katherine Joslin

Second Advisor

Dr. Nicolas Witschi

Third Advisor

Dr. Todd Kuchta

Fourth Advisor

Dr. King Zing


This dissertation examines how homemaking, as depicted in contemporary Asian American literature, reflects the bigger issue of Asian diaspora and identity transformation. I analyze how Asian immigrants, especially Asian women, make the home in America in varying ways, seemingly following their ancestral pattern or the mainstream American model but eventually transcend both. Following Judith Butler, I suggest that Asian immigrants' homemaking is performative. In this study, I look to the ideas of cultural identification and identity formation as a foundation for contemporary definitions of the diasporic home and contend that far from being a static mimicking of their former homes, Asian migrants' homemaking is actually a dynamic process that comprises continual anxiety in relation to identity performance and transformation. Employing the framework of Butler's performativity theory, each chapter explores the shifting conceptions of the home in Asian American literature of the latter half of the twentieth century. I examine how authors such as Chuang Hua, Bharati Mukherjee and Meena Alexander, after 1965, represent immigrant homemaking that transcends nationalism for survival and success in the host country. This method demonstrates how performances of the home, as depicted by these women writers, require a redefinition of diasporic homemaking to include attributes hitherto under-explored in the literature, namely the complex and performative features of the home. Drawing on Asian American studies, diaspora scholarship and Butler's performativity theory, my dissertation proffers a fresh approach to Asian American texts that dismantles easy connections between homemaking and fixed identities and suggests a significant methodology for analyzing immigrant narratives.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access