Daniel Kim: The Borderlands of the Korean War and the Fiction of Rolando Hinojosa

This essay reads the work of Rolando Hinojosa for the ways in which it invites a consideration of the two wars that the United States fought in the middle of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—the US-Mexico War and the Korean War, respectively—as part of a continuous history of US empire. It examines the array of cross-racial identifications operant in his Korean War trilogy—Korean Love Songs, Rites and Witnesses, and The Useless Servants—which attach variously to Japanese and Korean civilians as well as to North Korean and Chinese soldiers. In so doing, this article shows how Hinojosa’s war writings are part of an Orientalism that is deployed in the service of anticolonial and antiracist critique but that also recapitulates aspects of the colonial imaginary. These works also engage in an auto-critique of how certain segments of the Chicana/o population came to be beneficiaries of a liberal Cold War racial dispensation that enabled limited forms of upward mobility for some communities of color.

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