By the 1910s, Ketchikan, Alaska emerged as a frontier cannery site and an integral part of the colonial Alaskan economy. Industrialized salmon-canning operations were dependent on the racial and gendered labour stratification of migrant Asian men and resident Native women. Alaskan history obscures narratives of Asian labour, while Asian American studies recuperates stories of union organizing without mention of Native women. In this essay I utilize Lisa Lowe's configuration of colonial intimacy to bring together discourses on Native and Asian cannery workers. The colonial archive, Alaskan history, labour history and ethnic studies highlight traces of Asian men and Native women in Alaskan canneries as negative and/or unproductive. Close readings of Tlingit author Nora Marks Dauenhauer and Filipino writer Carlos Bulosan, however, provide representations of embodied pleasure as strategies for survival or prescriptions for contestational joy within colonial industrialism.
- Asian American
- settler colonialism