Committee Members: Augusto Espiritu, Davianna McGregor
Creating Masculinity in Los Angeles's Little Manila: Working-Class Filipinos and Popular Culture, 1920s–1950s by Linda España-Maram
Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor, and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation by Moon-Ho Jung
Before Internment: Essays in Prewar Japanese American History by Yuji Ichioka (edited by Gordon H. Chang and Eiichiro Azuma)
Although there has been a decreasing number of panels concerning Asian American history at our annual conference, the number of books we received this year as nominations and the books that we single out for recognition testify to a rich and exciting period of Asian American historical research and publication. I wish to thank the committee members, August Espiritu and Davianna McGregor, for their hard work and good-natured cooperation in reaching these decisions. We honor the following three books with awards this year.
The field of Asian American history lost one of its founding fathers in September, 2002, when Yuji Ichioka passed away after a long struggle against cancer. While his presence can never be replaced, Gordon H. Chang and Eiichiro Azuma have kept his memory alive by organizing and publishing a collection of essays that Ichioka was working on at the time of his death. These pieces, some previously published, others only now seeing the light of day, address the often neglected "interwar years" of Japanese American history. Ichioka paved the way for a generation of scholars to follow his lead in challenging the prevailing narrative of Japanese America from one of assimilation to that resistance and survival. One of the few Asian American historians of his generation able to read Japanese, Ichioka had the courage to acknowledge the diversity of positions held by both the Issei and Nisei generations and the need to study Japanese American history alongside that of modern Japan. The essays contained in this volume speak to the variety of issues that drew Ichioka's attention, ranging from Nisei study tours of Japan and Japanese-language schools in America, to a study of Louis Adamic's views of Japanese Americans and an examination of the life and influence of Yamato Ochihashi's work on the study of Japanese Americans. Ichioka's vision [End Page 231] of Japanese American history was far more expansive than most. On behalf of the Association for Asian American Studies, the committee is humbled to award Yuji Ichioka's Before Internment: Essays in Prewar Japanese American History, published by Stanford University Press, with an Honorable Mention for the 2006 Book Award in History.
The first book award goes to Linda España-Maram for Creating Masculinity in Los Angeles's Little Manila: Working-Class Filipinos and Popular Culture, 1920s–1950s published by Columbia University Press. Maram does something that others have not done before, to see the work, community, and the leisure time amusements of the Pinoys from their viewpoint. Her contention is that the triumvirate of social reformers, political leaders, and church leaders, not to mention respectable Filipinos and Philippine leaders, have always frowned upon Filipino workers for participating in these activities. She challenges received views about Asian American communities—Chinatowns, Little Tokyos, and so forth—as models for judging the Filipino community. Maram contends that such views privilege stability, the business class, and a sedentary conception of community. But the Filipino community, she argues, was necessarily a mobile one, following the planting and harvesting of crops throughout the Western United States. Moreover, they faced housing segregation and discrimination and were thus shunted into red-light districts and relegated to substandard housing, where their only recreations were the vibrant street life of urban centers.
For Maram, gambling, boxing, taxi dance halls, zoot suits, and entry into the armed forces during World War II provided the spaces, not for depravity or dysfunction, but for deflecting and denying the power of hegemony. She demonstrates that Filipino laborers resisted the drudgery, the danger, and the monotony of time-discipline and exploited work for Filipino laborers either as rural agricultural laborers or as urban service workers. Leisure-time afforded them new "spaces" through which to construct more fulfilling time, to create community, to develop...