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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Asian American Studies
Long considered the dean of modern Philippine literature, N. V. M. Gonzalez has influenced an entire generation of young Philippine writers and has also acquired a devoted international readership. His books, however, are not widely available in this country. The Bread of Salt and Other Stories provides a retrospective selection of sixteen of his short stories (all originally written in English), arranged in order of their writing, from the early 1950s to the present day.
This is a powerful collection, both for the unity and universality of the author's subjects and themes and for the distinctive character of his prose style. As Gonzalez remarks in his Preface: "In tone and subject matter, [these stories] might suggest coming full circle - in the learning of one's craft, in finding a language and, finally, in discovering a country of one's own."
Gonzalez has traveled widely and has taught the writer's craft in various countries. Nonetheless, his primary metaphor is his colonial island homeland, and his stories are peopled with the farmers and fishermen, the schoolteachers and small-town merchants, "the underclass who constitute the majority in all societies." He portrays, in the men, women, and children of the peasantry, an ordinary and enduring people who live lives of stark dignity against a backdrop of forgotten and unknown gods. A broad humanity suggests itself: "This feeling of having emerged out of a void, or something close to it, is not uncommon, and we face our respective futures predisposed, by an innocence, to prayer and hope."
Colonization, Gonzalez feels, has created in Filipinos "a truly submerged people." The stories in The Bread of Salt explore this rich vein at several levels, from the river-crossed wilderness of the kaingin farmers, stoic in the hard face of nature; to the commercial centers of the town dwellers, cut off from the mythic animism of the land; to the America of the contemporary sojourner, exiled from the old ways without the guidance of new traditions. Gonzalez writes: "It was in America that I began to recognize my involvement in the process of becoming a new person... of trying to shed my skin as a colonial."
Gonzalez's social commentary is implicit throughout his stories. His message is humane, moral, tellingly accurate, and gently ironic; he is neither sentimental nor doctrinaire. His narratives are presented without intrusive explanation, invoking instead the reader's own powers of contemplation and discovery. His strong prose style, spare yet lyrical suggests the cadences of Philippine oral narrative traditions.
Each of these sixteen tales is a small masterpiece. The language and its imagery, the characters and their aspirations, all connect powerfully with the reader and serve to illuminate the dreams of exiles and colonials, suggesting what it was like, as a Filipino, to witness the endless interacting of cultures.
Filipino Cultural Community Formation on the Internet
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.
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.
Containing Asian Migration in the British Empire and the United States
From 1896 to 1924, motivated by fears of an irresistible wave of Asian migration and the possibility that whites might be ousted from their position of global domination, British colonists and white Americans instituted stringent legislative controls on Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian immigration. Historians of these efforts typically stress similarity and collaboration between these movements, but in this compelling study, David C. Atkinson highlights the differences in these campaigns and argues that the main factor unifying these otherwise distinctive drives was the constant tensions they caused. Drawing on documentary evidence from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand, Atkinson traces how these exclusionary regimes drew inspiration from similar racial, economic, and strategic anxieties, but nevertheless developed idiosyncratically in the first decades of the twentieth century.Arguing that the so-called white man's burden was often white supremacy itself, Atkinson demonstrates how the tenets of absolute exclusion--meant to foster white racial, political, and economic supremacy--only inflamed dangerous tensions that threatened to undermine the British Empire, American foreign relations, and the new framework of international cooperation that followed the First World War.
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.
The Anti-Japanese Movement in Hawaii, 1865-1945
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.
The Rise of Asian America
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.
The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture
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.
The Silent Traveller from the East--A Cultural Biography
This is the true story of Chiang Yee, a renowned writer, artist, and worldwide traveler, best known for the Silent Traveller seriesùstories of England, the United States, Ireland, France, Japan, and Australiaùall 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.
Growing Up Chinese American in San Francisco, 1850-1920
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.