Model Minority Masochism: Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity, with Takeo Rivera (Weds. April 12, 2023)

The BU Center for the Study of Asia and the Department of English are very pleased to present

Takeo Rivera (Boston University)

Model Minority Masochism: Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity

Wednesday April 12, 2023 from 12-1:15 pm

at 121 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215


There are few grand narratives that loom over Asian Americans more than the “model minority.” While many Asian Americanist scholars and activists aim to disprove the model minority as “myth,” author Takeo Rivera instead rethinks the model minority as cultural politics. Rather than disproving the model minority, Rivera instead argues that Asian Americans have formulated their racial and gendered subjectivities in relation to what Rivera terms “model minority masochism.” Examining hegemonic masculine Asian American cultural performance across multiple media, from literature and theater to video games and activist archives, Rivera details two complementary forms of contemporary racial masochism: a self-subjugating masochism which embraces the model minority, and its opposite, a self-flagellating masochism that punishes oneself for having been associated with the model minority at all. (From

About the speaker:

Takeo Rivera (he/him) is a specialist in performance studies, ethnic studies, and queer theory in U.S. American cultural production. His first book, Model Minority Masochism: Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity (Oxford University Press, 2022) is focused on masochism and techno-orientalism in Asian American cultural production across multiple media, including theater, literature, graphic novels, historical archives, and video games. This book explores the relationship between power and pleasure within the traumas of racialization, examining affective attachments to nonhuman, machine-like stereotypical forms.

Dr. Rivera is also a playwright whose plays have been staged in New York City, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. His creative work explores race, masculinity, and sexuality at length. His play Goliath has been recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, the New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest, and the Planet Connections Theater Festivity. He has also worked with Poetic Theater Productions in New York City, CompanyONE Theater in Boston, and PlayGround San Francisco.

Dr. Rivera teaches courses in contemporary drama, modern drama, Asian American literature, queer theory, new media, racial capitalism, and the literature and performance of people of color in the United States. He is also a member of the core faculty of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program, a member of the BU Faculty Gender & Sexuality Studies Group, affiliate of the African American Studies Program and the American & New England Studies Program, and currently serves as the faculty mentor of the Asian Student Union. Dr. Rivera was also a 2019-2020 faculty fellow at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University, and a recipient of the Outstanding Mentor Award for UROP at BU.

Selected Publications

  • Model Minority Masochism: Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2022.
  • “Labor Out of Time: Forensic Performance in Kirsten Greenidge’s Greater Good and Fullbright’s Tacoma.” ASAP/Journal. Volume 6, Number 2, May 2021, pp. 327-352.
  • “Ordering a New World: Orientalist Biopower in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. Routledge Companion to Asian American Media. ed. Lori Lopez & Vincent Pham. New York: Routledge, 2017.
  • “Do Asians Dream of Electric Shrieks?: Techno-Orientalism and Erotohistoriographic Masochism in Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Amerasia Journal 40-2. 2014, pp. 67-86.
  • “You Have to Be What You’re Talking About: Youth Poets, Amateur Counter-Conduct, and Parrhesiastic Value in the Amateur Youth Poetry Slam.” Performance Research. 18-3. June 2013, pp. 112-121.
  • Co-authored with Korina Jocson: “Toward a Theory of Poemness: Cultural Politics and Transformative Pedagogies.” Handbook of Cultural Politics and Education. Zeus Leonardo, ed. Boston: Sense Publishers, July 2010.