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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Asian American Studies

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Body Evidence Cover

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Body Evidence

Intimate Violence against South Asian Women in America

Edited by Shamita Das Dasgupta

When South Asians immigrated to the United States in great numbers in the 1970s, they were passionately driven to achieve economic stability and socialize the next generation to retain the traditions of their home culture. During these years, the immigrant community went to great lengths to project an impeccable public image by denying the existence of social problems such as domestic violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, mental illness, racism, and intergenerational conflict. It was not until recently that activist groups have worked to bring these issues out into the open. In Body Evidence, more than twenty scholars and public health professionals uncover the unique challenges faced by victims of violence in intimate spaces . . . within families, communities and trusted relationships in South Asian American communities. Topics include cultural obsession with women's chastity and virginity; the continued silence surrounding intimate violence among women who identify themselves as lesbian, bisexual, or transgender; the consequences of refusing marriage proposals or failing to meet dowry demands; and, ultimately, the ways in which the United States courts often confuse and exacerbate the plights of these women.

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Building Diaspora

Filipino Cultural Community Formation on the Internet

Emily N. Ignacio

Building Diaspora heralds an important development in cultural studies, ethnic studies, the sociology of media, and globalization. Emily Ignacio brings an extended, incisive empirical investigation that is still quite rare in the theory-heavy yet data-light field of cyberspace cultural studies. She carefully crafts a framework in which to showcase the itinerant ideas and desires of Filipinos talking to each other from various geographical locations."—Martin Manalansan IV, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The dramatic growth of the Internet in recent years has provided opportunities for a host of relationships and communities—forged across great distances and even time—that would have seemed unimaginable only a short while ago.

In Building Diaspora, Emily Noelle Ignacio explores how Filipinos have used these subtle, cyber, but very real social connections to construct and reinforce a sense of national, ethnic, and racial identity with distant others. Through an extensive analysis of newsgroup debates, listserves, and website postings, she illustrates the significant ways that computer-mediated communication has contributed to solidifying what can credibly be called a Filipino diaspora. Lively cyber-discussions on topics including Eurocentrism, Orientalism, patriarchy, gender issues, language, and "mail-order-brides" have helped Filipinos better understand and articulate their postcolonial situation as well as their relationship with other national and ethnic communities around the world. Significant attention is given to the complicated history of Philippine-American relations, including the ways Filipinos are racialized as a result of their political and economic subjugation to U.S. interests.

As Filipinos and many other ethnic groups continue to migrate globally, Building Diaspora makes an important contribution to our changing understanding of "homeland." The author makes the powerful argument that while home is being further removed from geographic place, it is being increasingly territorialized in space.

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Building Filipino Hawai'i

Roderick Labrador

Drawing on ten years of interviews and ethnographic and archival research, Roderick Labrador delves into the ways Filipinos in Hawai'i have balanced their pursuit of upward mobility and mainstream acceptance with a desire to keep their Filipino identity. In particular, Labrador speaks to the processes of identity making and the politics of representation among immigrant communities striving to resist marginalization in a globalized, transnational era. Critiquing the popular image of Hawai'i as a postracial paradise, he reveals how Filipino immigrants talk about their relationships to the place(s) they left and the place(s) where they've settled, and how these discourses shape their identities. He also shows how the struggle for community empowerment, identity territorialization, and the process of placing and boundary making continue to affect how minority groups construct the stories they tell about themselves, to themselves and others.

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But Still Like Air

In this pathbreaking volume, Velina Hasu Houston gathers together eleven plays that speak in the "hybridized, unique American voices of Asian descent -- and often dissent." These writers resist the bigotry that attempts to target them solely as people of color as well as the homogenizing tendencies of a multiculturalism that fails to recognize the varied make-up of Asian America. Anthologized for the first time, these plays testify to the rich complexity of Asian American experience while they also demonstrate the different styles and thematic concerns of the individual playwrights.

What are Asian American plays about? Family conflicts, sexuality, social upheaval, betrayal ... the stuff of all drama. Whether the characters are a middle-aged Taiwanese woman who is married to an Irish American and who dreams of opening a Chinese restaurant, a Chinese American female bond trader trying to survive a corporate takeover, or an ABC (American Born Chinese) gay man whose lover has AIDS, their Asian-ness is only a part of their story.

As a playwright, Houston is keenly aware of the rigid formulas that often exclude writers of color and women women writers from mainstream theater. But Still, Like air, I'll Rise brings forth vibrant new work that challenges producers and audiences to broaden their expectations, to attend to the unfamiliar voices that expresses the universal and particular vision of Asian American playwrights.

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Cane Fires

The Anti-Japanese Movement in Hawaii, 1865-1945

Gary Okihiro

Outstanding Book in History and Social Science Award, Association for Asian American Studies, 1992 "Okihiro's account is an important corrective to our understanding of the Japanese American Experience in World War II." --The Hawaiian Journal of History Challenging the prevailing view of Hawaii as a mythical "racial paradise," Gary Okihiro presents this history of a systematic anti-Japanese movement in the islands from the time migrant workers were brought to the sugar cane fields until the end of World War II. He demonstrates that the racial discrimination against Japanese Americans that occurred on the West Coast during the second World War closely paralleled the less familiar oppression of Hawaii's Japanese, which evolved from the production needs of the sugar planters to the military's concern over the "menace of alien domination." Okihiro convincingly argues that those concerns motivated the consolidation of the plantation owners, the Territorial government, and the U.S. military-Hawaii's elite-into a single force that propelled the anti-Japanese movement, while the military devised secret plans for martial law and the removal and detention of Japanese Americans in Hawaii two decades before World War II. Excerpt Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf). Reviews "Scholars of American race relations will want to read this book. So will anyone interested in Hawaii's history or in the experiences of Japanese or Asian Americans. It will go far in putting to rest any residual notion that the WWII experiences of the Japanese Americans represented 'aberration' or 'hysterical' reaction to wartime exigencies." --Franklin S. Odo, University of Hawaii at Manoa "A well-researched and well-written treatment of the subject." --Library Journal Contents Illustrations Preface Part I: Years of Migrant Labor, 1986-1909 1. So Much Charity, So Little Democracy 2. Hole Hole Bushi 3. With the Force of Wildfire Part II: Years of Dependency, 1910-1940 4. Cane Fires 5. In the National Defense 6. Race War 7. Extinguishing the Dawn 8. Dark Designs Part III: World War II, 1941-1945 9. Into the Cold Night Rain 10. Bivouac Song 11. In Morning Sunlight Notes Index About the Author(s) Gary Y. Okihiro is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University.

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Chains of Babylon

The Rise of Asian America

Daryl J. Maeda

In Chains of Babylon, Daryl J. Maeda presents a cultural history of Asian American activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, showing how the movement created the category of "Asian American" to join Asians of many ethnicities in racial solidarity. Drawing on the Black Power and antiwar movements, Asian American radicals argued that all Asians in the United States should resist assimilation and band together to oppose racism within the country and imperialism abroad.

As revealed in Maeda's in-depth work, the Asian American movement contended that people of all Asian ethnicities in the United States shared a common relationship to oppression and exploitation with each other and with other nonwhite peoples. In the early stages of the civil rights era, the possibility of assimilation was held out to Asian Americans under a model minority myth. Maeda insists that it was only in the disruption of that myth for both African Americans and Asian Americans in the 1960s and 1970s that the full Asian American culture and movement he describes could emerge. Maeda challenges accounts of the post-1968 era as hopelessly divisive by examining how racial and cultural identity enabled Asian Americans to see eye-to-eye with and support other groups of color in their campaigns for social justice.

Asian American opposition to the war in Vietnam, unlike that of the broader antiwar movement, was predicated on understanding it as a racial, specifically anti-Asian genocide. Throughout he argues that cultural critiques of racism and imperialism, the twin "chains of Babylon" of the title, informed the construction of a multiethnic Asian American identity committed to interracial and transnational solidarity.

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Chang and Eng Reconnected

The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture

Cynthia Wu

Conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker have fascinated the world since the nineteenth century. In her captivating book, Chang and Eng Reconnected, Cynthia Wu traces the “Original Siamese Twins” through the terrain of American culture, showing how their inseparability underscored tensions between individuality and collectivity in the American popular imagination. 

Using letters, medical documents and exhibits, literature, art, film, and family lore, Wu provides a trans-historical analysis that presents the Bunkers as both a material presence and as metaphor. She also shows how the twins figure in representations of race, disability, and science in fictional narratives about nation building.

As astute entrepreneurs, the twins managed their own lives; nonetheless, as Chang and Eng Reconnected shows, American culture has always viewed them through the multiple lenses of difference.

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Chiang Yee

The Silent Traveller from the East -- A Cultural Biography

Da Zheng

This is the true story of Chiang Yee, a renowned writer, artist, and worldwide traveler, best known for the Silent Traveller series├╣stories of England, the United States, Ireland, France, Japan, and Australia├╣all written in his humorous, delightfully refreshing, and enlightening literary style. This biography is more than a recounting of extraordinary accomplishments. Da Zheng uncovers Yee's encounters with racial exclusion and immigration laws, displacement, exile, and the pain and losses he endured hidden behind a popular public image.

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Children of Chinatown

Growing Up Chinese American in San Francisco, 1850-1920

Wendy Rouse Jorae

Wendy Jorae challenges long-held notions of early Chinatown as a bachelor community by showing that families--and particularly children--played important roles in its daily life. She explores the wide-ranging images of Chinatown's youth created by competing interests with their own agendas--from anti-immigrant depictions of Chinese children as filthy and culturally inferior to exotic and Orientalized images that catered to the tourist's ideal of Chinatown. All of these representations, Jorae notes, tended to further isolate Chinatown at a time when American-born Chinese children were attempting to define themselves as Chinese American. Facing barriers of immigration exclusion, cultural dislocation, child labor, segregated schooling, crime, and violence, Chinese American children attempted to build a world for themselves on the margins of two cultures. Their story is part of the larger American story of the struggle to overcome racism and realize the ideal of equality.

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