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Asian/Pacific Islander American Women

A Historical Anthology

Shirley Hune, Gail Nomura

Publication Year: 2003

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women is the first collection devoted to the historical study of A/PI women's diverse experiences in America. Covering a broad terrain from pre-large scale Asian emigration and Hawaii in its pre-Western contact period to the continental United States, the Philippines, and Guam at the end of the twentieth century, the text views women as historical subjects actively negotiating complex hierarchies of power.

The volume presents new findings about a range of groups, including recent immigrants to the U.S. and understudied communities. Comprised of original new work, it includes chapters on women who are Cambodian, Chamorro, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Native Hawaiian, South Asian, and Vietnamese Americans. It addresses a wide range of women's experiences-as immigrants, military brides, refugees, American born, lesbians, workers, mothers, beauty contestants, and community activists. There are also pieces on historiography and methodology, and bibliographic and video documentary resources.

This groundbreaking anthology is an important addition to the scholarship in Asian/Pacific American studies, ethnic studies, American studies, women's studies, and U.S. history, and is a valuable resource for scholars and students.

Contributors include: Xiaolan Bao, Sucheng Chan, Catherine Ceniza Choy, Vivian Loyola Dames, Jennifer Gee, Madhulika S. Khandelwal, Lili M. Kim, Nancy In Kyung Kim, Erika Lee, Shirley Jennifer Lim, Valerie Matsumoto, Sucheta Mazumdar, Davianna Pomaika'i McGregor, Trinity A. Ordona, Rhacel Salazar Parre-as, Amy Ku'uleialoha Stillman, Charlene Tung, Kathleen Uno, Linda Trinh Võ, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Ji-Yeon Yuh, and Judy Yung.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi

This anthology marks an important stage not only in the study of Asian American and Pacific Islander American women’s history but also in the development of collaborative efforts among scholars who share this interest.We are grateful to all who expressed interest and support for this anthology.We particularly thank our ...

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Introduction: Through “Our” Eyes: Asian/Pacific Islander American Women’s History

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pp. 1-15

There is a great need for an anthology of recent scholarship on Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history that both centers women and reinterprets their lives through “our” eyes—the viewpoints of the participants themselves and the critical perspectives of scholars of women’s history. In this book, we reframe ...

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Introduction: On Our Terms: Definitions and Context

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pp. 16-22

This anthology explores the experiences, consciousness, and actions of Asian American and Pacific Islander American women from the nineteenth century to the present, examining the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, and ethnicity in their lives. Using the voices and perspectives of the women themselves, collectively ...

Part 1 Re-envisioning Women’s History

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pp. 23

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1. Constructed Images of Native Hawaiian Women

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pp. 25-41

The popular image of Native Hawaiian women as beautiful, graceful, and voluptuous hula maidens has been promoted by the tourist industry to market the romantic allure of the Hawaiian islands. The day-to-day reality of the average Native Hawaiian woman seldom resembles the poster-girl image. In fact, Native Hawaiian women span ...

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2. Unlearning Orientalism: Locating Asian and Asian American Women in Family History

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pp. 42-57

Although experiences of home and family life are part of our everyday world, much work remains to be done to thoroughly understand and analyze Asian and Asian American women in families and households. There is also work to be undone, namely, unlearning Orientalism, which continues to influence the study of Asia and, ...

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3. What Happened to the Women? Chinese and Indian Male Migration to the United States in Global Perspective

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pp. 58-74

Matrilocal societies aside, women form the largest group of migrants in any society, for they move to take up residence where their husbands live.1 Why was it, then, that in some communities, and at particular times, moving to their husbands’ home was the only transfer of residence they made, even when the husband later ...

Part II Revisiting Immigrant Wives and Picture Brides

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pp. 75

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4. Exclusion Acts: Chinese Women during the Chinese Exclusion Era, 1882–1943

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pp. 77-89

My grandmother Moy Sau Bik first came to the United States from China in 1931. She immigrated during the Chinese Exclusion era, when U.S. immigration laws excluded all but a few classes of Chinese immigrants. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 changed the course of U.S. immigration history, but little is known about what ...

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5. Housewives, Men’s Villages, and Sexual Respectability: Gender and the Interrogation of Asian Women at the Angel Island Immigration Station

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pp. 90-105

When Matsuho Tsune arrived at the Angel Island immigration station in 1910, she confronted a brief but pointed interrogation about her intended role as a married woman in America. Matsuho had worked as a schoolteacher in Japan, but she asserted that she now intended to perform “simply household duties.” Deemed a housewife ...

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6. Redefining the Boundaries of Traditional Gender Roles: Korean Picture Brides, Pioneer Korean Immigrant Women, and Their Benevolent Nationalism in Hawai‘i

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pp. 106-120

In 1917 a petite, sixteen-year-old girl left her family in a small village in Kyoung Nam, Korea. With her long black hair neatly braided, she set off for Hawai‘i, where she was to marry a Korean man whom she had never met but whose picture she had seen through a “go-between.” She had heard that people “can collect money by rake” ...

Part III Recovering Women’s History through Oral History and Journal Writing

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pp. 121

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7. “A Bowlful of Tears”: Lee Puey You’s Immigration Experience at Angel Island

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pp. 123-137

In 1975, a few years after the discovery of Chinese poems on the walls of the immigration barracks at Angel Island, I embarked on an oral history project with historian Him Mark Lai and poet Genny Lim to document the story of Chinese detention at Angel Island during the exclusion period.1 After conducting forty-five interviews ...

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8. Filipina American Journal Writing: Recovering Women’s History

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pp. 138-152

In 1985, Dorothy Laigo Cordova, founder and executive director of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), launched the Filipino Women in America: 1860–1985 project, which resulted in a celebrated traveling historical photo exhibit on the history of Filipina Americans. While simultaneously collecting oral ...

Part IV Contesting Cultural Formations and Practices, Constructing New “Hybrid” Lives

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pp. 153

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9. “The Ministering Angel of Chinatown: ”Missionary Uplift, Modern Medicine, and Asian American Women’s Strategies of Liminality

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pp. 155-171

In 1916, Margaret Jessie Chung (1889–1959) graduated from the University of Southern California’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, becoming the first known American-born Chinese woman physician. She overcame gender, racial, and economic barriers to attain medical training. As a member of a large, impoverished family, ...

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10. Japanese American Girls’ Clubs in Los Angeles during the 1920s and 1930s

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pp. 172-187

In 1926, the first letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Japanese Daily News’s fledgling English-language section came from a Nisei girl, part of the growing second-generation readership targeted by the ethnic newspaper. Cora Asakura welcomed the Nisei-run section with delight, saying, “I hope we may put our club news in it too.”1 ...

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11. Contested Beauty: Asian American Women’s Cultural Citizenship during the Early Cold War Era

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pp. 188-204

During the early Cold War era (1948–1955), when charges of being “un-American” were tantamount to treason, Asian American women’s bodies were at the center of their communities’ claims for inclusion in the American polity.1 The Cold War was not just a political battle between the Soviet Union and the United States but ...

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12. Passed into the Present: Women in Hawaiian Entertainment

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pp. 205-218

Since the late nineteenth century, Hawaiian music and dance have been enjoyed by residents and visitors to Hawai‘i and have served as a promotional tool for performers who toured and played nightspots outside Hawai‘i. Women were an integral part of Hawaiian entertainment. Yet, on close examination, women’s contributions ...

Part V Reshaping Lives and Communities after Militarism and War

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pp. 219

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13. Imagined Community: Sisterhood and Resistance among Korean Military Brides in America, 1950–1996

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pp. 221-236

The lives of Korean military brides, women who immigrated to the United States as wives of American soldiers, can be described as a complex struggle for survival, one characterized by what I call “everyday resistance.” By this I mean resistance that is woven into the fabric of daily life, often covert, usually subtle, and rarely ...

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14. Managing Survival Economic Realities for Vietnamese American Women

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pp. 237-252

Since we moved to the United States in 1979, my mother has worked in an assembly line at a factory, operated a mom-and-pop Oriental food market, transported garment pieces between the factories and seamstresses who sewed from their homes, served Chinese fast food at the mall, and become a beautician, an occupation ...

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15. Scarred, yet Undefeated: Hmong and Cambodian Women and Girls in the United States

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pp. 253-268

Many of the Hmong and Cambodian women and girls now living in the United States suffered severe traumas before they ever set foot on American soil. Some have never recovered from the unspeakable horrors they experienced; others not only have survived but have valiantly rebuilt their lives. They are actively reconstituting families ...

Part VI Negotiating Globalization, Work, and Motherhood

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pp. 269

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16. Asian Immigrant Women and Global Restructuring, 1970s–1990s

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pp. 271-285

Genny O’ Connor, a Filipina domestic worker in Los Angeles, left her office job in the Philippines in hopes of seeking a much higher paying job in the United States. In the Philippines, her salary could barely cover her day-to-day expenses and, needless to say, did not leave her with many resources to provide her family with the ...

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17. Politicizing Motherhood: Chinese Garment Workers’ Campaign for Daycare Centers in New York City, 1977–1982

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pp. 286-300

What impact does women’s labor force participation have on transforming their positions in the family and their perceptions of life?1 This has been an issue of major concern to scholars of women and labor in the last two decades.Various conclusions, often bifurcated and sometimes conflicting, have been reached in the studies ...

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18. Caring across Borders: Motherhood, Marriage, and Filipina Domestic Workers in California

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pp. 301-316

Lita stands in line waiting to enter the U.S. Embassy Consular Offices in Manila on April 30, 1990. She stifles a groan as she observes the queue snaking around the building and toward the front doors. She waits, knowing this is her opportunity to find work in the United States as a live-in caregiver to the elderly, just like her hometown ...

Part VII Challenging Community and the State: Contemporary Spaces of Struggle

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pp. 317

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19. Asian Lesbians in San Francisco: Struggles to Create a Safe Space, 1970s–1980s

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pp. 319-334

On October 12–15, 1979, more than six hundred Black, Latino, American Indian, Asian, and white people attended the First National Third World Gay and Lesbian Conference in Washington, D.C. That same weekend, the First National March for Gay and Lesbian Rights gathered more than one hundred thousand people ...

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20. Relocating Struggle: Filipino Nurses Organize in the United States

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pp. 335-349

In U.S. hospitals today, nursing is no longer exclusively practiced by white women in white uniforms. Between 1965 and 1988, more than seventy thousand foreign nurses entered the United States, with the majority coming from Asia. Although Korea, India, and Taiwan are among the top Asian sending countries, the Philippines ...

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21. Opening Spaces: South Asian American Women Leaders in the Late Twentieth Century

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pp. 350-364

In 1995, participation in the annual India Day Parade in Manhattan, New York City, became a contested issue. The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of New York, an established community organization of Asian Indians who sponsored the parade, denied permission to march to several progressive South Asian American ...

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22. Chamorro Women, Self-Determination, and the Politics of Abortion in Guam

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pp. 365-382

In 1990,Guam became embroiled in one of the most divisive social policy debates in its forty-year history as a U.S. territory when a Chamorro4 woman senator introduced a bill virtually banning abortion.5 This legislation was passed unanimously by a twentyone- member legislature with seven women senators.6 ...

Part VIII Additional Resources

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pp. 383

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23. Asian American and Pacific Islander American Womenas Historical Subjects: A Bibliographic Essay

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pp. 385-400

Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history is being rewritten, stimulated by new and underutilized sources, by methodologies that better incorporate women’s perspectives and voices, and by a critical mass of historians with an interest in women’s lives, gender, and feminist perspectives. The chapters in ...

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24. “In Her Eyes”An Annotated Bibliography of Video Documentaries on Asian/Pacific Islander American Women

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pp. 401-412

Faculty who teach Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history have used video documentaries as a pedagogical tool. Video documentaries can effectively provide visual images and illuminate perspectives that may not otherwise be covered in course readings or lectures. The purpose of this annotated bibliography is to ...

Grouped by Topic

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pp. 413-416

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About the Contributors

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pp. 417-420

Xiaolan Bao is Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. The author of “Feminist Collaborations between Diaspora and China,” with Xu Wu, in Chinese Women Organizing; “Sweatshops in Sunset Park,” in International Labor and Working-Class History; ...


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pp. 421-426

E-ISBN-13: 9780814790977
E-ISBN-10: 0814790976
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814736326
Print-ISBN-10: 0814736327

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2003

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Pacific Islander American women -- History.
  • Asian American women -- History.
  • United States -- Ethnic relations.
  • Pacific Islander American women -- Social conditions.
  • Asian American women -- Social conditions.
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