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Building Communities and Discourse
From the perspectives of ethnic studies, history, literary criticism, and legal studies, the original essays in this volume examine the ways in which the colonial history of the Philippines has shaped Filipino American identity, culture, and community formation. The contributors address the dearth of scholarship in the field as well as show how an understanding of this complex history provides a foundation for new theoretical frameworks for Filipino American studies.
Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory
Prisons and Patriots provides a detailed account of forty-one Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans), known as the Tucsonians, who were imprisoned for resisting the draft during WWII. Cherstin Lyon parallels their courage as resisters with that of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, well known for his legal battle against curfew and internment, who also resisted the draft. These dual stories highlight the intrinsic relationship between the rights and the obligations of citizenship, particularly salient in times of war.
Lyon considers how wartime civil disobedience has been remembered through history—how soldiers have been celebrated for their valor while resisters have been demonized as unpatriotic. Using archival research and interviews, she presents a complex picture of loyalty and conflict among first-generation Issei and Nisei. Lyon contends that the success of the redress movement has made room for a narrative that neither reduces the wartime confinement to a source of shame nor proffers an uncritical account of heroic individuals.
Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi
In September 1897 Yone Noguchi (1875–1947) contemplated crafting a poem to his new love, western writer Charles Warren Stoddard. Recently arrived in California, Noguchi was in awe of the established writer and the two had struck up a passionate correspondence. Still, he viewed their relationship as doomed—not by the scandal of their same-sex affections, but their introverted dispositions and differences in background. In a poem dedicated to his “dearest Charlie,” Noguchi wrote: “Thou and I, O Charles, sit alone like two shy stars, east and west!” While confessing his love to Stoddard, Noguchi had a child (future sculptor Isamu Noguchi) with his editor, Léonie Gilmour; became engaged to Washington Post reporter Ethel Armes; and upon his return to Japan married Matsu Takeda—all within a span of seven years. According to author Amy Sueyoshi, Noguchi was not a dedicated polyamorist: He deliberately deceived the three women, to whom he either pretended or promised marriage while already married. She argues further that Noguchi’s intimacies point to little-known realities of race and sexuality in turn-of-the-century America and illuminate how Asian immigrants negotiated America’s literary and arts community. As Noguchi maneuvered through cultural and linguistic differences, his affairs additionally assert how Japanese in America could forge romantic fulfillment during a period historians describe as one of extreme sexual deprivation and discrimination for Asians, particularly in California. Moreover, Noguchi’s relationships reveal how individuals who engaged in seemingly defiant behavior could exist peaceably within prevailing moral mandates. His unexpected intimacies in fact relied upon existing social hierarchies of race, sexuality, gender, and nation that dictated appropriate and inappropriate behavior. In fact, Noguchi, Stoddard, Gilmour, and Armes at various points contributed to the ideological forces that compelled their intimate lives. Through the romantic life of Yone Noguchi, Queer Compulsions narrates how even the queerest of intimacies can more provocatively serve as a reflection of rather than a revolt from existing social inequality. In unveiling Noguchi’s interracial and same-sex affairs, it attests to the complex interaction between lived sexualities and socio-legal mores as it traces how one man negotiated affection across cultural, linguistic, and moral divides to find fulfillment in unconventional yet acceptable ways. Queer Compulsions will be a welcome contribution to Asian American, gender, and sexuality studies and the literature on male and female romantic friendships. It will also forge a provocative link between these disciplines and Asian studies.
Love, Power, and Desire among Asian American/ White Couples
Racing Romance sheds light on the bonds between whites and Asian Americans, an important topic that has not garnered well-deserved attention until now. Using primary source narratives and interviews, Kumiko Nemoto addresses the contradictions and tensions-a result of race, class, and gender-that Asian Americans and whites experience. Racing Romance reveals how "progressive" interracial relationships remain shaped by the logic of patriarchy and gender inherent to the ideal of marriage, family, and nation in America, even as this ideal is juxtaposed with discourses of multiculturalism and color blindness.
Adopted Koreans, White Parents, and the Politics of Kinship
Until the late twentieth century, the majority of foreign-born children adopted in the United States came from Korea. In the absorbing book Reframing Transracial Adoption, Kristi Brian investigates the power dynamics at work between the white families, the Korean adoptees, and the unknown birth mothers. Brian conducts interviews with adult adopted Koreans, adoptive parents, and adoption agency facilitators in the United States to explore the conflicting interpretations of race, culture, multiculturalism, and family.
Brian argues for broad changes as she critiques the so-called "colorblind" adoption policy in the United States. Analyzing the process of kinship formation, the racial aspects of these adoptions, and the experience of adoptees, she reveals the stifling impact of dominant nuclear-family ideologies and the crowded intersections of competing racial discourses.
Brian finds a resolution in the efforts of adult adoptees to form coherent identities and launch powerful adoption reform movements.
Mediating History in Asian American Family Memoirs
Relative Histories focuses on the Asian American memoir that specifically recounts the story of at least three generations of the same family. This form of auto/biography concentrates as much on other members of one’s family as on oneself, generally collapses the boundaries conventionally established between biography and autobiography, and in many cases—as Rocío G. Davis proposes for the auto/biographies of ethnic writers—crosses the frontier into history, promoting collective memory. Davis centers on how Asian American family memoirs expand the limits and function of life writing by reclaiming history and promoting community cohesion. She argues that identity is shaped by not only the stories we have been told, but also the stories we tell, making these narratives important examples of the ways we remember our family’s past and tell our community’s story. In the context of auto/biographical writing or filmmaking that explores specific ethnic experiences of diaspora, assimilation, and integration, this work considers two important aspects: These texts re-imagine the past by creating a work that exists both in history and as a historical document, making the creative process a form of re-enactment of the past itself. Each chapter centers on a thematic concern germane to the Asian American experience: the narrative of twentieth-century Asian wars and revolutions, which has become the subtext of a significant number of Asian American family memoirs (Pang-Mei Natasha Chang’s Bound Feet and Western Dress, May-lee and Winberg Chai’s The Girl from Purple Mountain, K. Connie Kang’s Home Was The Land of Morning Calm, Doung Van Mai Elliott’s The Sacred Willow); family experiences of travel and displacement within Asia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which unveil a history of multiple diasporas that are often elided after families immigrate to the United States (Helie Lee’s Still Life With Rice, Jael Silliman’s Jewish Portraits, Indian Frames, Mira Kamdar’s Motiba’s Tattoos); and the development of Chinatowns as family spaces (Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men, Lisa See’s On Gold Mountain, Bruce Edward Hall’s Tea that Burns). The final chapter analyzes the discursive possibilities of the filmed family memoir ("family portrait documentary"), examining Lise Yasui’s A Family Gathering, Ruth Ozeki Lounsbury’s Halving the Bones, and Ann Marie Fleming’s The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam. Davis concludes the work with a metaliterary engagement with the history of her own Asian diasporic family as she demonstrates the profound interconnection between forms of life writing.
Secret desires, unfulfilled longing, and irrepressible humor flow through the stories of Wakako Yamauchi, writings that depict the lives of Nisei, second-generation Japanese Americans. Through the medium of Yamauchi’s storytelling, readers enter the world of desert farmers, factory workers, gamblers, housewives, con artists, and dreamers. Elegantly simple in words and complex in resonance, her stories reveal hidden strength, resilience, and the persistence of hope.
Mobilizing the Filipino American Community in the Anti-Eviction Movement