Unsettled Visions: Postionality and Framing References

Khaalidah Sidney




In Margo Machida’s Unsettled Visions, she highlights a variety of topics such as Positionality, Identify Politics Multiculturalism, Community arts, Localism and Globalization and much more.  However, two things mentioned that caught my interest were Positionality and Frames of Reference. Machida defines positionality on many levels such as context, place and agency (pg 18). She then focuses on how Asians have been positioned in the U.S. –extending on the idea that Asians are historically and culturally seen as outsiders and a potential threat to America’s dominate culture. She relates this to the art world by saying the art of Asian American artist are also seen as a cultural threat in the predominately white Art world. What I personally would of liked to see was how it also presents a challenge to Caucasian Americans constantly rewriting history through various vehicles outside of books but in art as well. However, she does mention how it allows Asians/Asian American to have an agency they have been historically denied. Another thing in positionality that Machida discusses something called, “iconographies of presence” which is a product of a self and collective search for identity (pg 19). Machida believes for Asian American artist it is important to establish an identity in their art through cultural commonalities and history to claim a place for them is important. But what I most admire is that Machida explains in why by doing so Asian American artist further challenge white dominate culture and vision of the world and in particular America.


Secondly, frames of references highlights the role of foreign born Asian artist have on both Western interpretations and Asian American discourses in visual arts (pg 44). Machida tries to convey that Asian foreign born artist helps shape Asian American culture in western context. I agree strongly because I see Caucasian Americans who are interested in Japanese Anime in japan and apply it to Asian American art culture. Unaware of the difference and the negative effects it has on both Asians and Asian Americans. Machida also tells us to be aware of eroticizing these works and realizing the cultural differences (pg 46). However, a lot of Anime fans I’ve encountered who were non-Asian/Asian Americans hyper-sexualize this art form and are dumbfounded about the differences of Asian art and Asian American art forms. I like this portion of the chapter most because I can personally relate with my experiences in Anime clubs or appreciation clubs of an entertainment form in Asia.


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