- Editor's Preface
In the late 1960s, Asian American communities and scholars launched the Asian American studies movement. In 1968, San Francisco State University spearheaded the first Asian American studies program. Other schools in California soon followed. By the early 1970s, Asian American studies programs or courses were established at colleges and universities on the West Coast. Most of the Asian American studies program intended to raise Asian American students' ethnic consciousness and self-awareness, and to develop research on Asian Americans. In the 1980s, a new wave of interest in Asian American studies swept the East Coast, and the institutionalization of Asian American studies program took place among a number of universities. In 1987, Wellesley University, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts at Boston incorporated new courses on Asian Americans into their curricula. Cornell University, Brown University, and Yale University also developed Asian American studies programs or courses in the same year. The Asian American studies movement continued in the 1990s when a number of schools in the Midwest established Asian American studies programs. By far, Asian American studies programs have evolved into a nationwide movement.
Academic programs of Asian American studies have demanded practitioners of the field to continue the investigation of the epistemology of Asian American studies. In this issue, contributors analyze the epistemologies of Asian American studies through the disciplines of literature [Begin Page v] and history, especially delineating the "body" of Asian American studies. As the coeditors of the issue, Susie J. Pak and Elda E. Tsou, put in their introduction, "By 'body,' we mean not only the bodies of actual Asian American subjects but also a reliance on the immediacy of representation itself such that some form of an Asian American subject, whether conceptual, empirical, or synecdochical, acts to secure the identity of the field."
I trust our readers will enjoy a preface by Gary Y. Okihiro, who eloquently and elegantly reiterates the significance of ethnic studies/Asian American studies in its quest of an archaeology of knowledge, "a fieldwork into the sources and objects of our projects to apprehend our condition and the means for our liberation." Readers will also benefit from the introduction, where Pak and Tsou theorize Asian American epistemologies, providing a succinct and substantial analysis of the body of historical and literary critical writing in Asian American studies. The contributors of the four essays in this issue, Jean J. Kim, Moon-Ho Jung, Colleen Lye, and Elda E. Tsou (in the order the essays appear in this issue), present our readers their historical and literary critical inquiries of the "body" of epistemology of Asian American studies. [Begin Page vi]