Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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The unnamed narrator in Lawrence Chua's novel Gold by the Inch is multiply queered. He appears to the reader as a gay Thai/Malay migrant of Chinese descent living in the United States. As a traveler, his encounters with episodes of sexual desire lead him to different notions of belonging as his race, class, and sexuality travel with him, marking him as an outsider from one space to another. Likewise, every instance of mobility challenges his identity, allowing him to bear witness to unique forms of structural violence relative to whichever locality he happens to be in. In short, Chua's narrator is faced with oppressions based on radical assumptions by the outside world that utilize his race, gender, sexuality, and American cultural identity as indicators for an insurmountable cultural attitude. In this paper I explore the promise of belonging as an ideological tool that valorizes participation within a global community in order to reinforce capitalist forms of labor and consumption. Using a Marxist framework, I seek to examine how socio-economic forces and global infrastructure induce the desire to belong to a global imaginary. I will also explore ideas of cultural difference through Balibar's notion of "neo-racism," and Žižek 's conception of multiculturalism. Gold by the Inch illuminates how spaces of global capitalism manage and appropriate the desire to belong as a means of producing surplus labor populations and consumer subjects.

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