Wakako Yamauchi’s "12-1-A" and Yussef El Guindi’s "Back of the Throat": Ethnicity, Politics, and the Question of American Multiculturalism

By Yasser Fouad Selim.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 27, 2015 $US5.00

This paper examines the interplay of ethnicity, politics, and multiculturalism in “12-1-A” written by Asian American playwright Wakako Yamauchi and “Back of the Throat” written by Arab American playwright Yussef El Guindi. The two plays are written with the backdrop of the Japanese internment of the 1940s and the 9/11 events respectively, and theatriclaize the traumatic experiences of Asian and Arab Americans after these (trans)national crises. Multiculturalism, which is traditionally understood as a flag of equality and diversity, is questioned as whether it is eliminating white hegemony or delineating power structure among various ethnicities in the U.S. The research tries to answer questions related to diversity, marginalization, transnationalism, and the interplay of the political and the personal in the selected plays. When I explain my historical research about the evacuation and internment of Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor, more often than not my audience sighs and remarks at how “relevant” my work must be in light of recent events. They mean 9/11 and the rapid encroachment upon civil liberties that followed the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (Colborn-Roxworthy 2006, 25)

Keywords: Ethnicity, Multiculturalism, Theatre

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 12, Issue 3-4, February 2015, pp.9-17. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 27, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 454.315KB)).

Dr. Yasser Fouad Selim

Assistant Professor of English Literature, Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Sohag University, Sohag, Egypt

Yasser Fouad Selim is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Sohag University, Egypt. He is currently seconded to serve as Assistant Professor of English Literature, and Chair of the Department of English at Al Buraimi University College, Oman. Dr. Selim received his PhD from Sohag University, Egypt, in joint supervision with the University of California in Los Angeles. He was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles between 2005-2007. Dr. Selim’s research interests include the interaction/ clashes/ dialogue between western and eastern cultures and the formation of identity within the contexts of politics, racialization and ethnicization in America. He authored different articles in referred journals. He is currently editing a collection of Essays entitled: WHO DEFINES ME? Negotiating Identity in Language and Literature (expected to be released by July 2014).