- Editor's Preface
Whether one utilizes the imagery of the "marginal man" that guided the work of Chicago School sociologists like Rose Hum Lee from the 1920s through the 1960s; of the "middle-man minority" popularized by sociologist Edna Bonacich in the 1980s; or of "liminality," which historian Judy Wu borrowed from anthropologists to great effect at the beginning of the twentieth-first century, scholars have long sought to explain the role of Asian American intellectuals, artists, and business people as cultural brokers between their respective immigrant communities and the larger society. Each succeeding theoretical construct has endeavored to understand the lives of Asian Americans who, having gained a measure of recognition — though not acceptance as equals — from the non-Asian majority, sought, often to their own disadvantage, to strengthen the connections between their cultures of heritage and the culture they aspired to embrace.
The articles in this issue of JAAS seek to explore the dynamics of this intercultural experience, while reflecting the influence of new theories on their authors. Elaine Howard Ecklund and Jerry Park examine the impact of religious affiliation on Asian American volunteerism, in an effort to interrogate "model minority" stereotypes related to civic participation. Both of the articles that follow present biographical studies of individuals whose careers epitomize the relationships that scholars like Lee, Bonacich, and Wu have sought to explain. Krystyn Moon explores the [End Page 5] sometimes deep though chronically strained friendship between the most prominent Chinese American vaudevillian, Lee Tung Foo, and his European American voice teacher, Margaret Blake Alverson. Martin Joseph Ponce shifts focus from such interpersonal relationships to individual interaction with larger societies. In his study of the canonical Filipino writer, Carlos Bulosan, Ponce seeks to understand his subject as a transnationally located critic of both the Philippines and the United States. Through their collective work, Ecklund and Park, Moon, and Ponce offer fresh catalytic perspectives on the meaning of Asian American spatiality, both literally and figuratively, "between worlds."