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Displacements and Diasporas

Asians in the Americas

Edited by Wanni W. Anderson and Robert G. Lee

Publication Year: 2005

Asians have settled in every country in the Western Hemisphere; some are recent arrivals, other descendents of immigrants who arrived centuries ago. Bringing together essays by thirteen scholars from the humanities and social sciences, Displacements and Diasporas explores this genuinely transnational Asian American experience-one that crosses the Pacific and traverses the Americas from Canada to Brazil, from New York to the Caribbean.

With an emphasis on anthropological and historical contexts, the essays show how the experiences of Asians across the Americas have been shaped by the social dynamics and politics of settlement locations as much as by transnational connections and the economic forces of globalization. Contributors bring new insights to the unique situations of Asian communities previously overlooked by scholars, such as Vietnamese Canadians and the Lao living in Rhode Island. Other topics include Chinese laborers and merchants in Latin America and the Caribbean, Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Brazil, Afro-Amerasians in America, and the politics of second-generation Indian American youth culture.

Together the essays provide a valuable comparative portrait of Asians across the Americas. Engaging issues of diaspora, transnational social practice and community building, gender, identity, institutionalized racism, and deterritoriality, this volume presents fresh perspectives on displacement, opening the topic up to a wider, more interdisciplinary terrain of inquiry and teaching.


Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This volume would not be possible without the generous support of the Francis Wayland Collegium for Liberal Learning and the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, Brown University, for their grants in support of the Asian displacements and diasporas project and subsequent editing of the papers. ...

Part One: Frameworks

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Chapter One: Asian American Displacements

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pp. 3-22

With an optimistic nod toward the new millennium, Quan Nguyen voices the hopes of a newly arrived Vietnamese, one of almost half a million refugees from the wars in Southeast Asia. Quan Nguyen and many other immigrants from Asia have imagined the Americas as the new “land of opportunity,” the “Golden Mountains,” or a “safe haven.” ...

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Chapter Two: Diaspora, Transnationalism, and Asian American Studies: Positions and Debates

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pp. 23-38

It should come as no surprise that the borders of Asian America are not synonymous with the borders of the United States of America. Sucheta Mazumdar’s often-quoted declaration that “the very genesis of Asian American Studies was international” (Mazumdar 1991, 40) underscores the ever-present, but always shifting, awareness of the transnational dimensions of the field, ...

Part Two: Displacements and Diasporas: Historical and Cultural Studies Perspectives

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Chapter Three: Diasporas, Displacements, and the Construction of Transnational Identities

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pp. 41-53

In the midst the First World War, the American social critic Randolph S. Bourne (1886–1918) published an essay that went against the grain of the widespread calls for active Americanization and national conformity through the suppression of the articulation of ethnic identities. ...

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Chapter Four: Images of the Chinese in West Indian History

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pp. 54-77

The Chinese who entered the British West Indies in the middle and late nineteenth century formed a marginal but distinct part of the global dispersal of southern Chinese characteristic of the period. Next to those in the United States, on the one hand, and in Cuba and Peru, ...

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Chapter Five: On Coolies and Shopkeepers: The Chinese as Huagong (Laborers) and Huashang (Merchants) in Latin America/Caribbean

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pp. 78-111

For almost twenty-five years I have been studying the history of migration and settlement of the Chinese in a part of the world not commonly associated with Chinese diaspora studies, or, as the study of Chinese migration and resettlement is known outside the United States. ...

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Chapter Six: From Japanese to Nikkei and Back: Integration Strategies of Japanese Immigrants and Their Descendants in Brazil

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pp. 112-121

1. In the early 1920s, Hachiro Fukuhara, a wealthy businessperson from Japan, decided to set up a farming colony in the Amazon that would be populated by Japanese immigrants. He returned from an exploratory trip to area north of Blem do Pára, at the mouth of the river, claiming that Brazil was “founded by Asiatics” ...

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Chapter Seven: In the Black Pacific: Testimonies of Vietnamese Afro-Amerasian Displacements

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pp. 122-156

American critical inquiries of the lived-experience of blackness continue to explore the inherent heterogeneity of African diasporas, yet such inquiries focus almost exclusively within a specific spatio-temporal site.1 This transnational and transcultural site, which is more commonly known today as the “Black Atlantic,” ...

Part Three: Displacements and Diasporas: Anthropological Perspectives

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Chapter Eight: Lived Simultaneity and Discourses of Diasporic Difference

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pp. 159-169

It is one thing to speak of diasporas, ethnoscapes, hybridity, and transnational communities, and quite another to carefully research the life worlds, performance of culture, and social relationships of migrants and their children. Whether we begin that exploration through participant observation or ethnographic interviews, ...

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Chapter Nine: From Refugees to Transmigrants: The Vietnamese in Canada

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pp. 170-193

According to the Canadian federal census, some 137,000 residents of Canada claimed a single or multiple Vietnamese ethnic origin in 1996. Without debating the accuracy of this figure—Canada had only 94,000 Vietnamese in 1991, and births and new arrivals could in no way have reached a total of 43,000 over the following five years ...

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Chapter Ten: Between Necessity and Choice: Rhode Island Lao American Women

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pp. 194-226

As one of the most recent Asian groups to arrive in the United States, Lowland Lao have received limited attention politically, educationally, and in public awareness. The perception that the Lowland Lao in Columbus, Ohio, have of themselves as the “forgotten refugees,” as cited by Muir (1988, 8), is not far from the truth. ...

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Chapter Eleven: Mixed Desires: Second-Generation Indian Americans and the Politics of Youth Culture

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pp. 227-248

One of the major questions driving the study on which this chapter is based is: What are the ways in which “being Indian” is (re)produced in the second generation, and how is national identity and culture recreated in the diaspora? My research intersedes with work on diasporic experiences in two ways; ...

Part Four: Opening the Dialogue

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Chapter Twelve: Crossing Borders of Disciplines and Departments

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pp. 251-255

The admonition to “think globally, act locally” has become something of a cliché over the past decade. Yet the current crisis, the putative “global war on terrorism,” is a sharp reminder that the experiences of displacement examined in the preceding chapters continue to take place on a terrain of intense struggle. ...

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Chapter Thirteen: Anthropology, Asian Studies, Asian American Studies: Open Systems, Closed Minds

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pp. 256-269

Aseries of papers written in 1957 and 1958 culminated in prominent British anthropologist Max Gluckman’s 1964 edited volume, Closed Systems and Open Minds: The Limits of Naivety in Social Anthropology. The subtitle of this chapter inverts that title: open systems and closed minds. ...

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Chapter Fourteen: The Ordeal of Ethnic Studies in the Age of Globalization

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pp. 270-290

After September 11, 2001, reflections on ethnic and racial conflicts in the “homeland” have automatically undergone surveillance and security checks. But is this a new situation? Have we, people of color in the racial polity, ever been truly released from such emergency measures? ...

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pp. 291-294

Nancy Abelman is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Asian American Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ...


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pp. 295-301

E-ISBN-13: 9780813537511
E-ISBN-10: 0813537517
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813536101

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2005