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American Journal of Chinese Studies

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How might we de-colonize hegemonic knowledge production about East Asia and its relationship with the West? This interview with Alexa Alice Joubin draws on new perspectives on cultural exchange in her book, Shakespeare and East Asia (Oxford University Press, 2021), which promotes treatment of Asian performing arts as original epistemologies rather than footnotes to the white, Western canon, and theory. We also present her latest thinking on multidisciplinarity. Her work, including Race (Routledge, 2019), has sought to deconstruct what she calls “compulsory realpolitik”—the conviction that the best way to understand non-Western cultures is by interpreting their engagement with pragmatic politics. In tandem with Anglo-Eurocentrism, she argues, compulsory realpolitik leads to the habitual privileging of the nation-state as a unit to organize knowledge.