Wesley Attewell is a visiting scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University. He works at the intersection of geography, Asian/Pacific/American studies, and history to map the spatial dimensions of US empire-building from the Cold War on. His first book, Developing Violence: Disassembling the USAID Complex in Afghanistan, will appear from the University of Minnesota Press in 2022. He is currently working on a second book project entitled The Lifelines of Empire: Logistical Life in the Decolonizing Pacific.
Danielle Wong is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. Her research and teaching interests are at the intersections of race, empire, and technology. Her current book project, Racial Virtuality: The New Media Life of Asianness, traces a genealogy of the “virtual” in racial capitalist, settler-colonial logics, and examines how everyday experiments applications of virtuality are entangled with Asian diasporic and Asian North American racialization and labour.
By analyzing Duffin’s Donuts in East Vancouver as a temporal-spatial landscape of afterwar, we suggest that refugee place-making entails racial taste-making—the labour and pleasures involved in producing sensorial, culinary, and aesthetic tastes that constitute the everyday experiences of imperial haunting. We argue that the donut shop’s 24/7 temporality indexes such a haunting: On the one hand, it marks the long duration and unrelenting conditions of labour exploitation under racial capitalism and transpacific imperialism, and, on the other, it fragments and suspends the linear chronology of multicultural inclusion and capitalist success. We conduct a close reading of the restaurant’s spatial aesthetics, signage, and menu in order to consider how the readymade—as a genre of art objects and as instant meals—traces lineages of transpacific imperialism and makes apparent the limits of neoliberalism’s promises of seamless production. We situate the intersection at Knight Street and 41st Avenue within the global circuits of supply chain capitalism. In doing so, we tell an alternative story of the Cambodian donut shop—one in which Duffin’s serves as a hinge that links East Vancouver to larger, ongoing projects of just-in-time Empire, and allows us to see the possible survival strategies of, and opportunities for solidarities through, refugee place-making.
Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.