Ornamentalism offers one of the first sustained and original theories of Asiatic femininity. Examining ornamentality, in lieu of Orientalism, as a way to understand the representation, circulation, and ontology of Asiatic femininity, this study extends our vocabulary about the woman of color beyond the usual platitudes about objectification. By offering us a conceptual frame through which to focus on race without being solely beholden to flesh or skin, this study alters the foundational terms of feminism and places Asian femininity at the center of an entire epistemology of race. By tracing a direct link between the making of artificial Asiatic femininity and a seemingly much more technological history of synthetic personhood in the West from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, Ornamentalism shows how the construction of modern personhood in the multiple realms of law, culture, and art has been surprisingly indebted to this very marginal figure.

Drawing from and speaking to the multiple fields of feminism, critical race theory, visual culture, performance studies, legal studies, Modernism, Orientalism, Object Studies and New Materialism, Ornamentalism will leave reader with a greater understanding of what it is to be in American culture.

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