- Editor’s Preface
When ethnic communities are established anywhere in the world, artistic and other creative endeavors serve as significant indicators of their maturation. Like the development of a language-of-origin press, religious centers, and support services, such enterprises signal a movement beyond the more fundamental preoccupations of survival in a new place to the task of improving the quality of life for both individuals and groups. Beyond their considerable aesthetic value, the works of artists, writers, and others belonging to the "creative" fields can offer important insight relative to the values, fears, and ambitions that simultaneously distinguish communities and enable them to establish shared foundations for collaborative action.
The articles offered in this issue of JAAS focus on Asian American creativity in a variety of ways. Constance J.S. Chen examines the careers of Japanese American art critics Okakura Kazuko and Kojiro Tomita, who exploited the prejudices of Western Orientalism to achieve professional repute and acceptance for themselves among New England's social elite. Betsy Huang analyses the sociopolitical significance of Korean American novelist Chang-rae Lee's creation, John Kwang, whose ill-fated career as an elected official critiques the cynicism that hinders panethnic cooperation as well as the "othering" that defines white bigotry. Harshita K. Mruthinti explores the disparate meanings of Hindu spiritual dance for first- and second-generation Indian American women, as they seek to navigate the [End Page v] competing influences of religious heritage and dominant-culture theology. Individually and collectively, these pieces do much to enrich our understanding of Asian American creative expression and the communities that inspire its development.