In her pathbreaking book, Ocean Passages, Erin Suzuki explores how movement through—and travel across—the ocean mediates the construction of Asian American and Indigenous Pacific subjectivities in the wake of the colonial conflicts that shaped the modern transpacific. Ocean Passages considers how Indigenous Pacific scholars have emphasized the importance of the ocean to Indigenous activism, art, and theories of globalization and how Asian American studies might engage in a deconstructive interrogation of race in conversation with this Indigenous-centered transnationalism.
The ocean passages that Suzuki addresses include the U.S. occupation and militarization of ocean space; refugee passage and the history and experiences of peoples displaced from the Pacific Islands; migratory circuits and the labors required to cross the sea; and the different ways that oceans inform postcolonial and settler colonial nationalisms. She juxtaposes work by Indigenous Pacific and Asian American artists and authors including James George, Maxine Hong Kingston, Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, lê thi diếm thúy, Ruth Ozeki, and Craig Santos Perez. In Ocean Passages, Suzuki explores what new ideas, alliances, and flashpoints might arise when comparing and contrasting Asian and Pacific Islander passages across a shared sea.