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Asian American Religions

The Making and Remaking of Borders and Boundaries

Tony Carnes, Fenggang Yang

Publication Year: 2004

Asian American Religions brings together some of the most current research on Asian American religions from a social science perspective. The volume focuses on religion in Asian American communities in New York, Houston, Los Angeles, and the Silicon Valley/Bay Area, and it includes a current demographic overview of the various Asian populations across the United States. It also provides information on current trends, such as that Filipino and Korean Americans are the most religiously observant people in America, that over 60 percent of Asian Americans who have a religious identification are Christian, and that one-third of Muslims in the United States are Asian Americans.

Rather than organizing the book around particular ethnic groups or religions, Asian American Religions centers on thematic issues, like symbols and rituals, political boundaries, and generation gaps, in order to highlight the role of Asian American religions in negotiating, accepting, redefining, changing, and creating boundaries in the communities' social life.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix

We thank the scholars who went before us, friends, and family for building the foundation of knowledge and lives.We thank the religious leaders and congregants who helped us for their generosity. We remember Stanford M. Lyman’s pioneer work and Ashakant Nimbark’s heroic completion of his chapter shortly before he passed away. We particularly thank Darilyn Carnes, Ruth J. Carnes, Jose Casanova, Karen Chai, Carolyn Chen, members ...

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pp. 1-37

The border between heaven and earth swings low when Asian immigrants cross national borders to America. Most Asian immigrants come with distinct religious beliefs and practices, and some gain them here. Asian Americans who have been here for five generations have also built a plethora of religious sites and organizations. Consequently, religion and ...

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The Religious Demography of Asian American Boundary Crossing

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pp. 38-52

Charting the religious demography of Asian Americans is not an easy task because of the scarcity of statistical information. The lack of demographic research may be attributed to a lack of interest among academics and the absence of questions on religion in survey data collected by U.S. government and other agencies (Warner 1998). Another major reason, which ...

Part I. Symbols and Rituals

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pp. 53-54

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1. Liminal Youth among Fuzhou Chinese Undocumented Workers

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pp. 55-75

Entering the Church of Grace is strikingly reminiscent of walking into a church anywhere in rural China, particularly the churches around Fuzhou. The language and narratives change. The clothing changes. Personal kinship and village networks become revitalized. The food changes. Even the smells change. The foyer of the Church of Grace is a liminal ...

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2. The Creation of Urban Niche Religion: South Asian Taxi Drivers in New York City

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pp. 76-97

Numerous studies have confirmed that “new” immigrants forming religious communities in the American context effectively fashion mosques, temples, and gurdwaras into structures that exhibit cultural and structural elements similar to those constituting Christian and Jewish congregations (Warner 1994;Warner and Wittner 1998; Ebaugh and Chafetz 2000a; Yang and Ebaugh 2001a). The emerging “structural adaptation” model, as it is ...

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3. Paradoxes of Media-Reflected Religiosity among Hindu Indians

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pp. 98-111

This chapter explores some paradoxical and puzzling patterns of revived religiosity among nonresident Indians (NRIs). The focus of the chapter is on Hindu Indians in America. I critically review the ethnic media of NRIs to find out whether their media is a mirror or a modifier of their community. My general question is: Does the ethnic media simply reflect the ...

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4. Global Hinduism in Gotham

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pp. 112-138

The global dispersion of Hinduism has ancient roots. Despite the brahmanical proscription against crossing “the black waters,” Indian traders whose religious sensibilities would today be called Hindu have plied oceans west and east of the subcontinent for at least two millennia.1 The worship of Shiva apparently dominated the Cambodian court in the ...

Part II. The Boundaries of Time: Events, Generation, and Age

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pp. 139-140

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5. Negotiation of Ethnic and Religious Boundaries by Asian American Campus Evangelicals

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pp. 141-159

On a southern California campus an African American student started attending an Asian American Christian club. But after three meetings he stopped coming. Two white men walked into another Asian American Christian meeting after hearing the praise music from the outside. After ten minutes, they walked out. Incidents like these are profoundly disturbing to local Asian American Christians, who believe that their religion ...

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6. Christian by Birth or Rebirth? Generation and Difference in an Indian American Christian Church

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pp. 160-181

Dissatisfied with the way the church was meeting their needs, some of the younger generation members of the St. Thomas church of Bethelville1 formed a youth focus group in 1998 to analyze the problems and come up with suggestions for reform, which they then planned to present before the congregation. “We met in the classroom behind the church every month. We started ...

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7. "Korean American Evangelical": A Resolution of Sociological Ambivalence among Korean American College Students

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pp. 182-204

Today, second-generation immigrants are engaged in innovatively constructing their identities. In Legacies (2001), Portes and Rumbaut consider second-generation success under an explanatory scheme of either doing poorly in school life because they become Americanized too quickly or succeeding because they hold onto the relationships and values of the first generation. However, their own evidence indicates that second-generation ...

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8. Gender and Generation in a Chinese Christian Church

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pp. 205-222

Women’s leadership roles in the Chinese American Christian church have been a controversial issue. The immigrant generation at the Chinese church usually goes the extra mile to try to avoid this controversy, whereas the younger generation of American-born Chinese sometimes stumbles upon it in anxiety. This was what happened at the Chinese Fellowship ...

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9. Faith, Values, and Fears of New York City Chinatown Seniors

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pp. 223-244

Chou is one of the earliest immigrants from Fujian Province on Monroe Street in New York City’s Chinatown. In his old age he wants to have a morally good heart and a body refreshed by the wind from Heaven. He is typical of Chinese American elderly in Chinatown. Every day, he practices a taken-for-granted spirituality that only occasionally brings him into a temple or church. But don’t misunderstand—religion is important for ...

Part III. Political Boundaries

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pp. 245-246

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10. Religious Diversity and Social Integration among Asian Americans in Houston

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pp. 247-262

The demographic revolution has transformed this Anglo-dominated biracial city into one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse metropolitan areas in the country. This diversity is vividly displayed in the Asian American houses of worship from the Houston Chinese Protestant megachurch to a little bit of Saigon at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Drawing on the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken in all four of ...

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11. Religion and Political Adaptation among Asian Americans: An Empirical Assessment from the Pilot National Asian American Political Survey

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pp. 263-284

According to the most comprehensive survey of the religions and politics of Asian Americans, most Asian Americans are religious and their religiosity often makes a difference in the way they define their ethnic identity and participate in American politics. Yet scholars of Asian American studies have been slow to systematically study the religious factor in Asian American politics.1 ...

Part IV. Transcending Borders and Boundaries

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pp. 285-286

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12. Creating an Asian American Christian Subculture: Grace Community Covenant Church

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pp. 287-312

These two evangelical Christians1 espouse two separate discourses regarding their Christian identity and racial-ethnic background. Cameron suggests that one’s religious identity is primary—not a mere descriptor—and that the ethnic church is often too culturally bound. Complaining about churches that are too exclusive and focused on cultural preservation, he asserts, “In Korean churches, unless you’re Korean, you’re going to feel ...

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13. Sasana Sakon and the New Asian American: Intermarriage and Identity at a Thai Buddhist Temple in Silicon Valley

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pp. 313-337

After a brief chant in the ancient language of Pali, Phramaha Somchai leaned forward to wish the young Lukchai and the others, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” Buddhism is changing in America. At Wat Buddhanusorn located in Fremont, California, mixed-race Thai American families came from celebrating Christmas midnight mass at the Roman Catholic church to perform merit ceremonies in the afternoon at the wat ...

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14. We Do Not Bowl Alone: Social and Cultural Capital from Filipinos and Their Churches

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pp. 338-360

Memorial Day, one of the biggest holidays in America, is popular as a day for travel and recreation with friends. At Classic Bowl in Daly City, one of the largest bowling centers in the San Francisco Bay Area, all sixty lanes are occupied by just one associational membership group—the players and their supporters are ministers and members from the Philippines-based Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC).1 Many members of the church’s Daly City ...


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pp. 361-394

About the Contributors

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pp. 395-396


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pp. 397-399

E-ISBN-13: 9780814772706
E-ISBN-10: 0814772706
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814716298
Print-ISBN-10: 0814716296

Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2004