Who are (or can count as) Taiwanese Americans? To what extent and in what ways do they participate politically in the United States? This study attempts to unpack the concept of Chineseness by examining various formations of identity boundaries of Taiwanese Americans. We empirically assess their “success” in political participation and incorporation by analyzing patterns of political participation of U.S. voting-age adults who were born in or originated from Taiwan, as compared to those who were born in or originated from (Mainland) China and Asia as a whole. We argue that Taiwanese Americans occupy a distinct space in modern Asian American history and a better understanding of the experiences of this often overlooked and misunderstood community can further explicate the complexity of being Chinese in contemporary America. However, we discuss multiple sets of methodological challenges in systematically studying the population through U.S. census survey and several other types of quantitative data. Whereas we find immigrants originated from Taiwan to be generally more active in electoral politics than those from Mainland China, our findings challenge the pluralist assumptions of a linear process of political incorporation and reject an overtly simplistic characterization of Taiwanese Americans as a “model-minority” success story.


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pp. 31-63
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