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The Transnational Politics of Asian Americans

Christian Collet

Publication Year: 2009

As America’s most ethnically diverse foreign-born population, Asian Americans can puzzle political observers. This volume’s multidisciplinary team of contributors employ a variety of methodologies—including quantitative, ethnographic, and historical—to illustrate how transnational ties between the U.S. and Asia have shaped, and are increasingly defining, Asian American politics in our multicultural society.


Original essays by U.S.- and Asian-based scholars discuss Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities from Boston to Honolulu. The volume also shows how the grassroots activism of America’s “newest minority” both reflects and is instrumental in broader processes of political change throughout the Pacific. Addressing the call for more global approaches to racial and ethnic politics, contributors describe how Asian immigrants strategically navigate the hurdles to domestic incorporation and equality by turning their political sights and energies toward Asia. These essays convincingly demonstrate that Asian American political participation in the U.S. does not consist simply of domestic actions with domestic ends.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

The field of Asian American politics is rapidly expanding with the continuous contributions of a growing number of political scientists—as well as other social scientists, historians, and public-policy analysts— who have sought to document, analyze, theorize, and forecast the political dimensions of the Asian American experience. Most of these works focus on the electoral participation and representation of Asian Americans in relation to American domestic politics. This is due in...

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pp. xv-xvi

This volume is a genuine Pacific crossing, the product of a two-year series of e-mails and visits between one editor in Kyoto and Tokyo and another shuttling between Taipei, Salt Lake City, and the California coast. Over the course of this project, both moved to new universities. A child was born and another graduated from college. A third moved...

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1. The Transnational Politics of Asian Americans: Controversies, Questions, Convergence

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pp. 1-22

On Olympic Street in Los Angeles, four hundred Filipinas are leading a march through the historic downtown district. Their hope, ostensibly, is to end American involvement in Iraq, but the action, they say, is part of a broader indictment of the “victimization of women in war-stricken countries.” Among their targets is one of the few female...

I. Asian States and Nationalisms in Asian American Politics: Then and Now

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2. Dancing with the Rising Sun: Strategic Alliances between Japanese Immigrants and Their “Home” Government

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pp. 25-37

For early Asian immigrants, transnationalism was a typical aspect of their social practices and thinking. Displacement, travel, and resettlement ushered in simultaneous negotiations of Asian immigrants with the United States and their countries of origin. Transplanted Asians also faced another challenge. They felt compelled...

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3. Journeys of Discovery and Difference: Transnational Politics and the Union of Democratic Filipinos

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pp. 38-55

More than twenty years have passed since the overthrow of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and twenty-five since the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., the single greatest catalyst of their downfall. Much has transpired since. The Philippines has become one...

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4. Contested Nation: Vietnam and the Emergence of Saigon Nationalism in the United States

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pp. 56-73

In the three-plus decades following the end of the war in Vietnam, Vietnamese in America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) have maintained a paradoxical relationship, one that differs from those typically analyzed in the growing literature on migrant transnationalism.1 Some of this has to do with the uniqueness of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) among world regimes and its unitary role in governing the rapidly developing country of 85 million; contributing...

II. The Practices and Sites of Asian American Transnational Politics

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5. Transnational Dimensions of Community Empowerment: The Victories of Chanrithy Uong and Sam Yoon

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pp. 77-91

This chapter examines the cases and contexts of two history-making electoral victories in metropolitan Boston during the past decade: that of Chanrithy Uong, the first Asian American elected to the Lowell City Council in 1999, and that of Sam Yoon, the first Asian American elected to the Boston City Council in 2005. Both examples are...

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6. Working Democracy: Transnational Repertoires of Citizenship among New Chinese Americans

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pp. 92-106

Nearly a decade would pass before Veronica jettisoned that sense of floating.1 Anchored by American citizenship, she became an active participant in a collectivity of post-1965 naturalized Chinese Americans whose work speaks to a deep desire to invoke ways of belonging and membership. This identity project, at once...

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7. The Limits of Transnational Mobilization: Indian American Lobby Groups and the India–U.S. Civil Nuclear Deal

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pp. 107-118

The relationship between the attachments of immigrants to their home country and political participation in the country of settlement is highly debated. The conventional wisdom contends that a deeper attachment to one’s home country acts as a barrier to participation in the United States. Engagement with the political...

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8. Network Governance of Asian American Diasporic Politics

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pp. 119-133

This chapter examines the practice and institutional mechanisms of diasporic politics within the context of “governance without a government” to highlight its transnational and global deployment. The study of diasporic politics has followed two different paths or two phases in the development of the hermeneutics of its parameters. First...

III. Transnational Political Behavior and Asian American Identities

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9. Like Latinos? Explaining the Transnational Political Behavior of Asian Americans

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pp. 137-152

It is now accepted wisdom that the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 contributed to a dramatic rise of the non-white population and a major shift in the demographic makeup of the U.S. population. Much of the attention to sustained migration from the “Third World,” however, has focused on Latinos. Although...

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10. The Intersection of “Americanization” and “Racial Expansion”: Nisei Identity Politics in Prewar Hawai‘i

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pp. 153-167

In October 1926, the Japanese-language newspaper Nippu Jiji carried an editorial titled “Basic Problem of Second Generation.” The Nippu Jijihad both Japanese and English sections and boasted of the largest circulation in Hawai‘i as a Japanese-language newspaper. The editorial deplored what it called the tendency of many young Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) to lack Japanese virtues and claimed they imitated only “negative” characteristics of the Americans:...

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11. Does Transnational Living Preclude Pan-Ethnic Thinking? An Exploration of Asian American Identities

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pp. 168-185

Arif Dirlik, tracing “the idea of Asian America,” notes the paradox: How does one reconcile an Asian American movement founded in the 1960s on the reconstruction of domestic identities with the global forces that have shaped the population since? The movement embedded the problems of Asia...


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pp. 187-200


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pp. 201-221

About the Contributors

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pp. 223-224


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pp. 225-236

E-ISBN-13: 9781592138623
Print-ISBN-13: 9781592138616

Publication Year: 2009