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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Asian American Studies

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Filipinos Represent Cover

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Filipinos Represent

DJs, Racial Authenticity, and the Hip-hop Nation

Antonio T. Tiongson Jr.

The “Hip-hop Nation” has been scouted, staked out, and settled by journalists and scholars alike. Antonio T. Tiongson Jr. steps into this well-mapped territory with questions aimed at interrogating how nation is conceptualized within the context of hip-hop. What happens, Tiongson asks, to notions of authenticity based on hip-hop’s apparent blackness when Filipino youth make hip-hop their own?

Tiongson draws on interviews with Bay Area–based Filipino American DJs to explore the authenticating strategies they rely on to carve out a niche within DJ culture. He shows how Filipino American youth involvement in DJing reconfigures the normal boundaries of Filipinoness predicated on nostalgia and cultural links with an idealized homeland. Filipinos Represent makes the case that while the engagement of Filipino youth with DJ culture speaks to the broadening racial scope of hip-hop—and of what it means to be Filipino—such involvement is also problematic in that it upholds deracialized accounts of hip-hop and renders difference benign.

Looking at the ways in which Filipino DJs legitimize their place in an expressive form historically associated with African Americans, Tiongson examines what these complex forms of identification reveal about the contours and trajectory of contemporary U.S. racial formations and discourses in the post–civil rights era.

For Better or For Worse Cover

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For Better or For Worse

Vietnamese International Marriages in the New Global Economy

Hung Cam Thai

Marriage is currently the number-one reason people migrate to the United States, and women constitute the majority of newcomers joining husbands who already reside here. But little is known about these marriage and migration streams beyond the highly publicized and often sensationalized phenomena of mail-order and military brides. Less commonly known is that most international couples are immigrants of the same ethnicity.

            In For Better or For Worse, Hung Cam Thaitakes a closer look at marriage and migration, with a specific focus on the unions between Vietnamese men living in the United States and the women who marry them. Weaving together a series of personal stories, he underscores the ironies and challenges that these unions face. He includes the voices of working-class immigrant men dealing with marginalization in their adopted country. These men speak about wanting “traditional” wives who they hope will recognize their gendered authority. Meanwhile, young Vietnamese college-educated women, undesirable to bachelors in their own country who are seeking subservient wives, express a preference for men of the same ethnicity but with a more liberal outlook on gender—men they imagine they will find in the United States.

A sense of foreboding pervades the book as Thai captures the incompatible viewpoints of the couples who appear to be separated not only geographically but ideologically.

 

A Force for Change Cover

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A Force for Change

Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936

Kimberley Mangun

A Force for Change is the first full-length study of the life and work of one of Oregon’s most dynamic civil rights activists, Beatrice Morrow Cannady.

Between 1912 and 1936, Cannady tirelessly promoted interracial goodwill and fought segregation and discrimination. She gave hundreds of lectures to high school and college students and shared her message with radio listeners across the Pacific Northwest. She was assistant editor, and later publisher, of The Advocate, Oregon’s largest African American newspaper. Cannady was the first black woman to graduate from law school in Oregon, and the first to run for state representative. She held interracial teas in her home in Northeast Portland and protested repeated showings of the racist film The Birth of a Nation. And when the Ku Klux Klan swept into Oregon, she urged the governor to act quickly to protect black Oregonians’ right to live and work without fear. Despite these accomplishments, Beatrice Cannady fell into obscurity when she left Oregon in the late 1930s.

A Force for Change illuminates Cannady’s key role in advocating for better race relations in Oregon in the early decades of the twentieth century. It describes her encounters with the period’s leading black artists, editors, politicians, and intellectuals, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, A. Philip Randolph, Oscar De Priest, Roland Hayes, and James Weldon Johnson. It dispels the myth that African Americans played little part in Oregon’s history and it enriches our understanding of the black experience in Oregon and the civil rights movement across the country.

From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express Cover

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From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express

A History of Chinese Food in the United States

Haiming Liu

From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express takes readers on a compelling journey from the California Gold Rush to the present, letting readers witness both the profusion of Chinese restaurants across the United States and the evolution of many distinct American-Chinese iconic dishes from chop suey to General Tso’s chicken. Along the way, historian Haiming Liu explains how the immigrants adapted their traditional food to suit local palates, and gives readers a taste of Chinese cuisine embedded in the bittersweet story of Chinese Americans.
 
Treating food as a social history, Liu explores why Chinese food changed and how it has influenced American culinary culture, and how Chinese restaurants have become places where shared ethnic identity is affirmed—not only for Chinese immigrants but also for American Jews. The book also includes a look at national chains like P. F. Chang’s and a consideration of how Chinese food culture continues to spread around the globe. 
 
Drawing from hundreds of historical and contemporary newspaper reports, journal articles, and writings on food in both English and Chinese, From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express represents a groundbreaking piece of scholarly research. It can be enjoyed equally as a fascinating set of stories about Chinese migration, cultural negotiation, race and ethnicity, diverse flavored Chinese cuisine and its share in American food market today.

From Okinawa to the Americas Cover

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From Okinawa to the Americas

Hana Yamagawa and Her Reminiscences of a Century

Edited by Akiko Yamagawa Hibbett

Between 1889 and 1940 more than 40,000 Okinawan contract laborers emigrated to plantations in Hawaii, Brazil, the Philippines, and Peru. In 1912 seventeen-year-old Hana Kaneshi accompanied her husband and brother to South America and dreamed of returning home in two years’ time a wealthy young woman. Edited by her daughter Akiko, Hana’s richly detailed memoir is a rare, first-hand account of the life of a female Okinawan immigrant in the New World. It spans nearly a century, from Hana’s early life in a small village not long after the Ryukyu Kingdom’s annexation to Japan; to a sugar plantation in Peru and its capital, Lima; to her dangerous trek through Mexico and the California desert to enter the U.S. and start a new life, this time in the Imperial Valley and finally Los Angeles. Hana’s story comes full circle when she returns briefly, after forty-seven years, to Okinawa during the postwar American Occupation. From Okinawa to the Americas will appeal to not only students of Asian American and disapora studies, but also those seeking to understand the complexity of Okinawan culture and the networks of family relationships in Okinawa and in its overseas immigrant communities.

From Orphan to Adoptee Cover

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From Orphan to Adoptee

U.S. Empire and Genealogies of Korean Adoption

SooJin Pate


Since the 1950s, more than 100,000 Korean children have been adopted by predominantly white Americans; they were orphans of the Korean War, or so the story went. But begin the story earlier, as SooJin Pate does, and what has long been viewed as humanitarian rescue reveals itself as an exercise in expanding American empire during the Cold War.

Transnational adoption was virtually nonexistent in Korea until U.S. military intervention in the 1940s. Currently it generates $35 million in revenue—an economic miracle for South Korea and a social and political boon for the United States. Rather than focusing on the families “made whole” by these adoptions, this book identifies U.S. militarism as the condition by which displaced babies became orphans, some of whom were groomed into desirable adoptees, normalized for American audiences, and detached from their past and culture.

Using archival research, film, and literary materials—including the cultural work of adoptees—Pate explores the various ways in which Korean children were employed by the U.S. nation-state to promote the myth of American exceptionalism, to expand U.S. empire during the burgeoning Cold War, and to solidify notions of the American family. In From Orphan to Adoptee we finally see how Korean adoption became the crucible in which technologies of the U.S. empire were invented and honed.

From Wonso Pond Cover

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From Wonso Pond

Kang Kyong-Ae

From Wonso Pond is the first complete work written by a woman before the Korean War to be published in English. It is a classic proletariat novel that uses the suffering of the peasants and the proletariat in the early 20th century as a backdrop to a love triangle. This novel explores life in Korea through the orphaned Sonbi; her destitute childhood neighbor, Ch’otchae; and a law student, Sinch’ol. It follows them through the hardships of rural poverty and village life dominated by a greedy and corrupt landlord to dangerous, underpaid work in the city. All three become part of an underground activist network in Inchon.

Ghostlife of Third Cinema Cover

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Ghostlife of Third Cinema

Asian American Film and Video

Glen M. Mimura

Asian American filmmakers and video artists have created a substantial, diverse, and challenging body of work that reimagines the cultural and political representation of Asian Americans. Yet much of this work remains unknown. For Glen M. Mimura, Asian American cinema is the spectral, ghostly return of the international film movement known as Third Cinema. Tracing contemporary Asian American cinema as a continuation of Third Cinema’s radical enterprise of making marginalized subjects visible in the First World, Ghostlife of Third Cinema examines such potent issues as diasporic identity, historical memory, and queer sexuality through sophisticated readings of a wide range of film and video projects, including Trinh T. Minh-ha’s experimental documentary Surname Viet Given Name Nam; avant-garde works by Japanese American filmmakers Rea Tajiri, Lise Yasui, and Janice Tanaka; and queer videos exploring the intersection of race, nation, and sexuality by Pablo Bautista, Ming-Yuen Ma, and Nguyen Tan Hoang. In Ghostlife of Third Cinema, Mimura confronts the ongoing erasure of Asian American independent media and illuminates its cultural and political significance today.

Hapa Girl Cover

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Hapa Girl

A Memoir

May-lee Chai

In the mid-1960s, Winberg Chai, a young academic and the son of Chinese immigrants, married an Irish-American artist. In Hapa Girl ("hapa" is Hawaiian for "mixed") their daughter tells the story of this loving family as they moved from Southern California to New York to a South Dakota farm by the 1980s. In their new Midwestern home, the family finds itself the object of unwelcome attention, which swiftly escalates to violence. The Chais are suddenly socially isolated and barely able to cope with the tension that arises from daily incidents of racial animosity, including random acts of cruelty.

May-lee Chai's memoir ends in China, where she arrives just in time to witness a riot and demonstrations. Here she realizes that the rural Americans' "fears of change, of economic uncertainty, of racial anxiety, of the unknowable future compared to the known past were the same as China's. And I realized finally that it had not been my fault."

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