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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Asian American Studies

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Claiming America Cover

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Claiming America

K. Wong

This collection of essays centers on the formation of an ethnic identity among Chinese Americans during the period when immigration was halted. The first section emphasizes the attempts by immigrant Chinese to assert their intention of becoming Americans and to defend the few rights they had as resident aliens. Highlighting such individuals as Yung Wing, and ardent advocate of American social and political ideals, and Wong Chin Foo, one of the first activists for Chinese citizenship and voting rights, these essays speak eloquently about the early struggles in the Americanization movement.

The second section shows how children of the immigrants developed a sense of themselves as having a distinct identity as Chinese Americans. For this generation, many of the opportunities available to other immigrants' children were simply inaccessible. In some districts explicit policies kept Chinese children in segregated schools; in many workplaces discriminatory practices kept them from being hired or from advancing beyond the lowest positions. In the 1930s, in fact, some Chinese Americans felt  their only option was to emigrate to China, where they could find jobs better matched to their abilities. Many young Chinese women who were eager to take advantage of the educational and work options opening to women in the wider U.S. society first had to overcome their family's opposition and then racism. As the personal testimonies and historical biographies eloquently attest, these young people deeply felt the contradictions between Chinese and American ways; but they also saw themselves as having to balance the demands of the two cultures rather than as having to choose between them.

Claiming the Oriental Gateway: Prewar Seattle and Japanese America Cover

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Claiming the Oriental Gateway: Prewar Seattle and Japanese America

In Claiming the Oriental Gateway, Shelley Sang-Hee Lee explores the various intersections of urbanization, ethnic identity, and internationalism in the experience of Japanese Americans in early twentieth-century Seattle. She examines the development and self-image of the city by documenting how U.S. expansion, Asian trans-Pacific migration, and internationalism were manifested locally—and how these forces affected residents’ relationships with one another and their surroundings.

Lee details the significant role Japanese Americans—both immigrants and U.S. born citizens—played in the social and civic life of the city as a means of becoming American. Seattle embraced the idea of cosmopolitanism and boosted its role as a cultural and commercial "Gateway to the Orient" at the same time as it limited the ways in which Asian Americans could participate in the public schools, local art production, civic celebrations, and sports. She also looks at how Japan encouraged the notion of the "gateway" in its participation in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and International Potlach.

Claiming the Oriental Gateway thus offers an illuminating study of the "Pacific Era" and trans-Pacific relations in the first four decades of the twentieth century.

Colorado's Japanese Americans Cover

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Colorado's Japanese Americans

From 1886 to the Present

By Bill Hosokawa

"This crisply-written, well-designed treasure is a haunting tale every Coloradan should know."— Tom Noel, Rocky Mountain News & Denver Post

"Hosokawa's century-long account is measured and even handed: concentration camps are one of many events in the community's continuum of experiences. . . . a lively presentation . . . and an excellent choice for the inaugural work of this series."—Stefanie Beninato, Journal of the West

"Bill Hosokawa, a master writer, has drawn together thousands of strands of Japanese history in Colorado to make a rich historical cloth." — Stephen J. Leonard

"Using his knack for storytelling, Bill Hosakawa brings the life of the Colorado Issei and Nisei to life." — Colorado Endowment for the Humanities 2005 Publication Prize Committee

"... [A]n easy reading book that is quite interesting, humorous, insightful and inspirational that everyone, even non-Coloradoans would enjoy reading."— Ted Namba, past president of the Arizona JACL

In Colorado's Japanese Americans, renowned journalist and author Bill Hosokawa pens the first history of this significant minority in the Centennial State. From 1886, when the young aristocrat Matsudaira Tadaatsu settled in Denver, to today, when Colorado boasts a population of more than 11,000 people of Japanese ancestry, Japanese Americans have worked to build homes, businesses, families, and friendships in the state. Hosokawa traces personal histories, such as Bob Sakata's journey from internment in a relocation camp to his founding of a prosperous truck farm; the conviction of three sisters for assisting the escape of German POWs; and the years of initiative and determination behind Toshihiro Kizaki's ownership of Sushi Den, a beloved Denver eatery. The author relates personal stories, and the larger history of interweaving of cultures in Colorado.

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Common Ground

The Japanese American National Museum and the Culture of Collaborations

By Akemi Kikumura-Yano, Lane R. Hirabayashi, James A. Hirabayashi

"As this collection clearly demonstrates, the Japanese American National Museum rejected the notion of the museum as a fortress of elite culture... [T]he JANM hopes to act as an agent of social change, to both educate and act as a catalyst for community building. Common Ground offers an insider's look at how the [JANM] researches, funds, and creates its exhibits. Unlike other museum studies anthologies . . . this collection does not emphasize academic authors or theoretical framing of issues. . . . The resulting book is written in a highly accessible and, at times, almost journalistic style."— Amerasia Journal

Angeles's Japanese American National Museum, established in 1992, remains the only museum in the United States expressly dedicated to sharing the story of Americans of Japanese ancestry. The National Museum is a unique institution that operates in collaboration with other institutions, museums, researchers, audiences, and funders. In this collection of seventeen essays, anthropologists, art historians, museum curators, writers, designers, and historians provide case studies exploring collaboration with community-oriented partners in order to document, interpret, and present their histories and experiences and provide a new understanding of what museums can and should be in the United States. Current scholarship in museum studies is generally limited to interpretations by scholars and curators. Common Ground brings descriptive data to the intellectual canon and illustrates how museum institutions must be transformed and recreated to suit the needs of the twenty-first century.

Confinement and Ethnicity Cover

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Confinement and Ethnicity

An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites

by Jeffery F. Burton, Mary M. Farrell, Florence B. Lord, and Richard W. Lord

Based on archival research, field visits, and interviews with former residents, this remarkable volume documents in unprecedented detail the various facilities in which persons of Japanese descent living in the western U.S. were confined during World War II. It provides an overview of the architectural remnants, archeological features, artifacts from the various sites, and both historic and present-day photographs.

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Consoling Ghosts

Stories of Medicine and Mourning from Southeast Asians in Exile

Jean M. Langford

In conversation with emigrants from Laos and Cambodia, Jean M. Langford repeatedly met with spirits: the wandering souls of the seriously ill, dangerous ghosts of those who died by violence, restless ancestors displaced from their homes. For these emigrants, the dead not only appear in memories, safely ensconced in the past, but also erupt with a physical force into the daily life and dreams of the present.

Inspired by these conversations, Consoling Ghosts is a sustained contemplation of relationships with the dying and the dead. At their heart, as Langford’s work reveals, emigrants’ stories are parables not of cultural difference but rather of life and death. Langford inquires how and why spirits become implicated in remembering and responding to violence, whether the bloody violence of war or the more structural violence of social marginalization and poverty. What is at stake, she asks, when spirits break out of their usual confinement as symbolic figures for history, heritage, or trauma to haunt the corridors of hospitals and funeral homes? Emigrants’ theories and stories of ghosts, Langford suggests, inherently question the metaphorical status of spirits, in the process challenging both contemporary bioethics of dying and dominant styles of mourning. Consoling Ghosts explores the possibilities opened up by a more literal existence of ghosts, from the confrontation of shades of past violence through bodily ritual to rites of mourning that unfold in acts of material care for the dead instead of memorialization.

Ultimately the book invites us to consider alternate ways of facing death, conducting relationships with the dead and dying, and addressing the effects of violence that continue to reverberate in bodies and social worlds.

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Constructing the Enemy

Empathy/Antipathy in U.S. Literature and Law

Rajini Srikanth

In her engaging book, Constructing the Enemy, Rajini Srikanth probes the concept of empathy, attempting to understand its different types and how it is—or isn't—generated and maintained in specific circumstances.

Using literary texts to illuminate issues of power and discussions of law, Srikanth focuses on two case studies— the internment of Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans in World War II, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the detainment of Muslim Americans and individuals from various nations in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Through primary documents and interviews that reveal why and how lawyers become involved in defending those who have been designated “enemies,” Srikanth explores the complex conditions under which engaged citizenship emerges. Constructing the Enemy probes the seductive promise of legal discourse and analyzes the emergence and manifestation of empathy in lawyers and other concerned citizens and the wider consequences of this empathy on the institutions that regulate our lives.

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Contemporary Asian American Communities: Intersections And Divergences

Once thought of in terms of geographically bounded spaces, Asian America has undergone profound changes as a result of post-1965 immigration as well as the growth and reshaping of established communities. This collection of original essays demonstrates that conventional notions of community, of ethnic enclaves determined by exclusion and ghettoization, now have limited use in explaining the dynamic processes of contemporary community formation.Writing from a variety of perspectives, these contributors expand the concept of community to include sites not necessarily bounded by space; formations around gender, class, sexuality, and generation reveal new processes as well as the demographic diversity of today's Asian American population. The case studies gathered here speak to the fluidity of these communities and to the need for new analytic approaches to account for the similarities and differences between them. Taken together, these essays forcefully argue that it is time to replace the outworn concept of a monolithic Asian America.

Contemporary Chinese America: Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community Transformation Cover

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Contemporary Chinese America: Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community Transformation

Contemporary Chinese America is the most comprehensive sociological investigation of the experiences of Chinese immigrants to the United States—and of their offspring—in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The author, Min Zhou, is a well-known sociologist of the Chinese American experience. In this volume she collects her original research on a range of subjects, including the causes and consequences of emigration from China, demographic trends of Chinese Americans, patterns of residential mobility in the U.S., Chinese American “ethnoburbs,” immigrant entrepreneurship, ethnic enclave economies, gender and work, Chinese language media, Chinese schools, and intergenerational relations. The concluding chapter, “Rethinking Assimilation,” ponders the future for Chinese Americans. Also included are an extensive bibliography and a list of recommended documentary films.

 

While the book is particularly well-suited for college courses in Chinese American studies, ethnic studies, Asian studies, and immigration studies, it will interest anyone who wants to more fully understand the lived experience of contemporary Chinese Americans.

Cosmopolitan Publics Cover

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Cosmopolitan Publics

Anglophone Print Culture in Semi-Colonial Shanghai

Shuang Shen

Cosmopolitan Publics focuses on China's "cosmopolitans"-Western-educated intellectuals who returned to Shanghai in the late 1920s to publish in English and who, ultimately, became both cultural translators and citizens of the wider world. Shuang Shen highlights their work providing readers with a broader understanding of the role and function of cultural mixing, translation, and multilingualism in China's cultural modernity. Shen's encompassing study revisits and presents the experience of Chinese modernity as far more heterogeneous, emergent, and transnational than it has been characterized until now.

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