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Chinese in the Woods

Logging and Lumbering in the American West

Sue Fawn Chung

Though recognized for their work in the mining and railroad industries, the Chinese also played a critical role in the nineteenth-century lumber trade. Sue Fawn Chung continues her meticulous examination of the impact of Chinese immigrants on the American West by bringing to life the tensions, towns, and lumber camps of the Sierra Nevada during a boom period of economic expansion. Chinese workers, like whites, labored as woodcutters and flume-herders, lumberjacks and loggers. Exploding the myth of the Chinese as a docile and cheap labor army, Chung shows Chinese laborers earned wages similar to those of non-Asians. Men working as camp cooks, among other jobs, could even make more. At the same time, she draws on archives and archaeology to reconstruct everyday existence, offering evocative portraits of camp living, small town life, personal and work relationships, and the production and technical aspects of a dangerous trade.

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Chinese Looks

Fashion, Performance, Race

Sean Metzger

From yellow-face performance in the 19th century to Jackie Chan in the 21st, Chinese Looks examines articles of clothing and modes of adornment as a window on how American views of China have changed in the past 150 years. Sean Metzger provides a cultural history of three iconic objects in theatrical and cinematic performance: the queue, or man's hair braid; the woman's suit known as the qipao; and the Mao suit. Each object emerges at a pivotal moment in US-China relations, indexing shifts in the balance of power between the two nations. Metzger shows how aesthetics, gender, politics, economics, and race are interwoven and argues that close examination of particular forms of dress can help us think anew about gender and modernity.

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Chinese Mexicans

Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland, 1910-1960

Julia Maria Schiavone Camacho

At the turn of the twentieth century, a wave of Chinese men made their way to the northern Mexican border state of Sonora to work and live. The ties--and families—these Mexicans and Chinese created during led to the formation of a new cultural identity: Chinese Mexican. During the tumult of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, however, anti-Chinese sentiment ultimately led to mass expulsion of these people. Julia María Schiavone Camacho follows the community through the mid-twentieth century, across borders and oceans, to show how they fought for their place as Mexicans, both in Mexico and abroad.

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Choreographing Asian America

Yutian Wong

Poised at the intersection of Asian American studies and dance studies, Choreographing Asian America is the first book-length examination of the role of Orientalist discourse in shaping Asian Americanist entanglements with U.S. modern dance history. Moving beyond the acknowledgement that modern dance has its roots in Orientalist appropriation, Yutian Wong considers the effect that invisible Orientalism has on the reception of work by Asian American choreographers and the conceptualization of Asian American performance as a category. Drawing on ethnographic and choreographic research methods, the author follows the work of Club O' Noodles--a Vietnamese American performance ensemble--to understand how Asian American artists respond to competing narratives of representation, aesthetics, and social activism that often frame the production of Asian American performance.

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Cities of Others

Reimagining Urban Spaces in Asian American Literature

by Xiaojing Zhou

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Civil Racism

The 1992 Los Angeles Rebellion and the Crisis of Racial Burnout

Lynn Mie Itagaki

The 1992 Los Angeles rebellion, also known as the Rodney King riots, followed the acquittal of four police officers who had been charged with assault and the use of excessive force against a Black motorist. The violence included widespread looting and destruction of stores, many of which were owned or operated by Korean Americans in neighborhoods that were predominantly Black and Latina/o. Civil Racism examines a range of cultural reactions to the “riots” anchored by calls for a racist civility, a central component of the aesthetics and politics of the post–civil rights era.

Lynn Mie Itagaki argues that the rebellion interrupted the rhetoric of “civil racism,” which she defines as the preservation of civility at the expense of racial equality. As an expression of structural racism, Itagaki writes, civil racism exhibits the active—though often unintentional—perpetuation of discrimination through one’s everyday engagement with the state and society. She is particularly interested in how civility manifests in societal institutions such as the family, the school, and the neighborhood, and she investigates dramatic, filmic, and literary texts by African American, Asian American, and Latina/o artists and writers that contest these demands for a racist civility.

Itagaki specifically addresses what she sees as two “blind spots” in society and in scholarship. One is the invisibility of Asians and Latinas/os in media coverage and popular culture that, she posits, importantly shapes Black–White racial formations in dominant mainstream discourses about race. The second is the scholarly separation of two critical traditions that should be joined in analyses of racial injustice and the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion: comparative race studies and feminist theories.

Civil Racism insists that the 1992 “riots” continue to matter, that the artistic responses matter, and that—more than twenty years later—debates about issues of race, ethnicity, class, and gender are more urgent than ever.


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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.

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Claiming Place

On the Agency of Hmong Women

Chia Youyee Vang

Countering the idea of Hmong women as victims, the contributors to this pathbreaking volume demonstrate how the prevailing scholarly emphasis on Hmong culture and men as the primary culprits of women’s subjugation perpetuates the perception of a Hmong premodern status and renders unintelligible women’s nuanced responses to patriarchal strategies of domination both in the United States and in Southeast Asia.

Claiming Place expands knowledge about the Hmong lived reality while contributing to broader conversations on sexuality, diaspora, and agency. While these essays center on Hmong experiences, activism, and popular representations, they also underscore the complex gender dynamics between women and men and address the wider concerns of gendered status of the Hmong in historical and contemporary contexts, including deeply embedded notions around issues of masculinity.

Organized to highlight themes of history, memory, war, migration, sexuality, selfhood, and belonging, this book moves beyond a critique of Hmong patriarchy to argue that Hmong women have been and continue to be active agents not only in challenging oppressive societal practices within hierarchies of power but also in creating alternative forms of belonging.

Contributors: Geraldine Craig, Kansas State U; Leena N. Her, Santa Rosa Junior College; Julie Keown-Bomar, U of Wisconsin–Extension; Mai Na M. Lee, U of Minnesota; Prasit Leepreecha, Chiang Mai U; Aline Lo, Allegheny College; Kong Pha; Louisa Schein, Rutgers U; Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, U of Connecticut; Bruce Thao; Ka Vang, U of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.

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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.

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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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