- Editor’s Preface
When I began about twenty-five years ago to study the history of Asian Americans as a graduate student at San Francisco State University, the issues of immigration, community-building, and discrimination dominated the course material. Even though many of my Asian American classmates were natives of California — and for several the same also was true of their great-grandparents — we still were focusing on the newcomer's experience in the United States. To be sure, we had begun to apply models from broader studies of immigration history, such as Oscar Handlin's emphasis on generational conflict, and literary works like Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior had highlighted the same themes in a more autobiographical manner. Still, however, we were seeking to understand subsequent generations only in relation to their "between worlds" struggles to balance the competing forces of heritage and acculturation.
First-generation Asian Americans continue to occupy significant positions in the articles offered in this issue of JAAS, and some of the old questions remain. Nevertheless, each article carries its vision well beyond the psycho-dramas of the past to address generational change in terms that transcend the dynamics of immigration and bicultural anomie. M. Agnes Kang and Adrienne Lo utilize the tools of socio-linguistics to examine the process through which Korean Americans in their late teens and early twenties express their ethnic identity. John Hayakawa Török, [End Page v] in his double-article interview with U.C.L.A. law professor Jerry Kang, discusses more broadly focused generational changes in Asian American socio-political status and illustrates their implications relative to the design of courses that explore the position of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans within the institutional life of the larger society. By establishing the first generation as prelude rather than primary subject, both the work of Kang and Lo and Török's interview with Professor Kang add a dimension to Asian American Studies that a number of the colleagues with whom I shared classrooms a quarter-century ago would have found much more relevant to their experience.