Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Body, migration, Chinese, trafficking, assemblage, identity, migrant workers, coolie

Major Advisor

Liansu Meng

Associate Advisor

Cathy J. Schlund-Vial

Associate Advisor

Jason Oliver Chang

Field of Study

Literatures, Languages, and Cultures


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


In this dissertation, I argue that motifs of trafficking are central to a modern definition of the human body that is a simultaneous political, social and economic. I utilize the assemblage theory of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (1980), which compelling argue the social world (or socius) reduces the complexity and multiplicity of a body which is a complex, power-driven site whose function and meaning surface only when it forms relational accumulations with another. I combine this approach with cultural critic Lisa Lowe’s conception of Asian American subjectivity, heterogeneity, multiplicity, and hybridity in Immigrant Acts (1996) and examine the disembodiment and re-embodiment of Chinese bodies in Asian and Asian American cultural productions. I examine the racialization of early Chinese migrant workers of coolies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the contemporary Chinese migrant peasant workers of mingong under the conditions of globalization and neoliberalism, the Chinese restaurant workers in America, and the mainstream discourses on commercialized Chinese bodies/tissues in illegal organ trafficking. The project analogously argues against stable, known formations of the body (as singular subject); instead, it productively interrogates multiple bodies and unstable articulations in the neocolonial/neoliberal politics of “trafficking.”

Available for download on Wednesday, November 15, 2028