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Vietnamese International Marriages in the New Global Economy
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.
Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936
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.
A History of Chinese Food in the United States
Hana Yamagawa and Her Reminiscences of a Century
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.
U.S. Empire and Genealogies of Korean Adoption
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 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.
Asian American Film and Video
How Vietnamese Children Adapt to Life in the United States
Vietnamese Americans form a unique segment of the new U.S. immigrant population. Uprooted from their homeland and often thrust into poor urban neighborhoods, these newcomers have nevertheless managed to establish strong communities in a short space of time. Most remarkably, their children often perform at high academic levels despite difficult circumstances. Growing Up American tells the story of Vietnamese children and sheds light on how they are negotiating the difficult passage into American society.
Min Zhou and Carl Bankston draw on research and insights from many sources, including the U.S. census, survey data, and their own observations and in-depth interviews. Focusing on the Versailles Village enclave in New Orleans, one of many newly established Vietnamese communities in the United States, the authors examine the complex skein of family, community, and school influences that shape these children's lives. With no ties to existing ethnic communities, Vietnamese refugees had little control over where they were settled and no economic or social networks to plug into. Growing Up American describes the process of building communities that were not simply transplants but distinctive outgrowths of the environment in which the Vietnamese found themselves. Family and social organizations re-formed in new ways, blending economic necessity with cultural tradition. These reconstructed communities create a particular form of social capital that helps disadvantaged families overcome the problems associated with poverty and ghettoization.
Outside these enclaves, Vietnamese children faced a daunting school experience due to language difficulties, racial inequality, deteriorating educational services, and exposure to an often adversarial youth subculture. How have the children of Vietnamese refugees managed to overcome these challenges? Growing Up American offers important evidence that community solidarity, cultural values, and a refugee sensibility have provided them with the resources needed to get ahead in American society. Zhou and Bankston also document the price exacted by the process of adaptation, as the struggle to define a personal identity and to decide what it means to be American sometimes leads children into conflict with their tight-knit communities.
Growing Up American is the first comprehensive study of the unique experiences of Vietnamese immigrant children. It sets the agenda for future research on second generation immigrants and their entry into American society.
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."