Troubling Borders

An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora

Coeditors: Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Kathy Nguyen, Mariam B. Lam

Juxtaposing short stories, poetry, painting, and photographs, Troubling Borders showcases the creative work of women of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Thai, and Filipino ancestry. This thematically arranged collection interrupts borders of categorization and gender, in what preface author Shirley Geok-Lin Lim describes as a “leap over the barbed fences that have kept these women apart in these, our United States of America.” The sixty-two contributors have been shaped by colonization, wars, globalization, and militarization. For some of these women on the margins of the margin, crafting and showing their work is a bold act in itself. Their provocative and accessible creations tell unique stories, provide sharp contrasts to familiar stereotypes—Southeast Asian women as exotic sex symbols, dragon ladies, prostitutes, or “bar girls”—and serve as entry points for broader discussions about questions of history, memory, and identity.

Published Date:
April 2014

University of Washington Press


The combination of image with texts complementing and conversing with each other provides a textured, layered engagement with the subject matter.
Art Radar Asia

[The] stories told dispel stereotypes and take on the complex challenges of colonialism, militarization, love, resistance, family, migration, and more. They reveal the intersectional and multilayered experiences of Southeast Asian women in the diaspora.
NBC News

Inspiring . . . uses a collage of art forms to portray varied, and usually under-represented, female identities . . . [and] shows how marginalized women have become empowered through their fervent and thought-provoking artwork and writings.
Journal of Postcolonial Writing

[A] collection that is at once scholarly yet accessible, purposely fragmented yet also deliberately interconnected, and always centering women in ways that surprise, challenge, and even provoke.
International Examiner

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