April 17, 2024

Resurfacing a Queer Play in Homonationalist Times: Soon-Tek Oh’s Tondemonai—Never Happen!

Paper abstract for the 2024 Association for Asian American Studies Conference in Seattle, WA:

Alan Williams finds evidence of the will to institutionality in his discussion of Tondemonai—Never Happen! (Soon-Tek Oh, 1970), a puzzling example of an Asian American queer cultural production that has been omitted from the canon. Performed by the famed East West players and the first commercially-produced play depicting the Japanese American incarceration, Tondemonai cannot be made representative of 1970s Asian American cultural production despite being at a “center” of it, because that would contradict the paradigmatic Asian Americanist critique of the era as beset by homophobic cultural nationalism.

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