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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Asian American Studies

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Chinese in the Woods Cover

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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.

Chinese Looks Cover

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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.

Chinese Mexicans Cover

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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.

Cities of Others Cover

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Cities of Others

Reimagining Urban Spaces in Asian American Literature

by Xiaojing Zhou

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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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Coming Home to China

Yi-Fu Tuan

In the summer of 2005, distinguished geographer Yi-Fu Tuan ventured to China to speak at an international architectural conference, returning for the first time to the place he had left as a child sixty-four years before.  He traveled from Beijing to Shanghai, addressing college audiences, floating down the Yangtze River on a riverboat, and visiting his former home in Chongqing. 

 

In this enchanting volume, Tuan’s childhood memories and musings on the places encountered during this homecoming are interspersed with new lectures, engaging overarching principles of human geography as well as the changing Chinese landscape. Throughout, Tuan’s interactions with his hosts, with his colleague’s children, and even with a garrulous tour guide, offer insights into one who has spent his life studying place, culture, and self.

 

At the beginning of his trip, Tuan wondered if he would be a stranger among people who looked like him. By its end, he reevaluates his own self-definition as a hyphenated American and sheds new light on human identity’s complex roots in history, geography, and language.

 

Yi-Fu Tuan is author of Cosmos and Hearth, Dear Colleague, and Space and Place, all from Minnesota. He retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998.

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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.

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