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Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

February 24, 2011

Written by C.N.

Recent Dissertations on Asian Americans #2

To highlight the continuing growth and vitality of Asian American Studies, the following is a list of recent doctoral dissertation from scholars in the social sciences and humanities that focus on Asian Americans. As you can see, the diversity of research topics is a direct reflection of the dynamic and multidimensional nature of the Asian American population. Last but not least, congratulations to my new academic colleagues on being “Ph.inally”

The records are compiled by Dissertation Abstracts International. Copies of the dissertations can be obtained through your college’s library or by addressing your request to ProQuest, 789 E. Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346. Telephone 800-521-3042, email: As always, works included in this list are for informational purposes only and do not imply an endorsement of their contents.

We Will Not Be Moved: The Mobilization Against Southeast Asian American Detention and Deportation

Dao, Loan Thi (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Abstract: This project will discuss how deportation policies affecting Southeast Asians has catapulted a new generation of community leaders into positions of power in Southeast Asian American communities. The mobilization efforts of three community organizations in particular — CAAAV/YLP, KGA, and PrYSM — have challenged the dominant discourse of Southeast Asian American youth through their organizing and have traced a map for the Asian American movement in the 21st Century. This dissertation examines the organizing efforts of these core organizations in the Southeast Asian Freedom Network from its inception in August 2002 until December 2004.

    How does the shift in leadership and orientation to a Southeast Asian American emphasis affect change and continuity in Asian American social movements in this new historical period? The analysis of the collective identities, tactics, strategies, and cultural productions of these organizations illuminates a nascent era in Asian American movement that continues to challenge dominant narratives about racialized immigrant and refugee urban youth. I argue that the anti-detention and anti-deportation work of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network demonstrates the trajectory of Asian American social movement for several reasons. The impact of a new demographic of Asian American leaders to the movement in general is in itself significant.

    Between 2002-2004, working-class, urban refugee 1.5 to 2nd generation youth took leadership on a national scale in the political framing, strategizing and actions of deportation practice and policymaking. The deportation issue galvanized the Asian American community and Southeast Asian American organizations into the realization that a critical mass of new leaders had equipped themselves to meet the challenges of their peers in light of a power vacuum during a time of collective crisis. This research points to three main shifts in Asian American movements: (1) The conceptualization of an Asian American Left political position that re-aligns “anti-communist” and radical left ideologies; (2) The redistribution of power in effecting social change from legal and service professionals to working-class community members directly affected and with it, grassroots organizing tactics and strategies; (3) New cross-sectional alliances beyond ethnicity speak to the complicated identity formation of this new generation.

Politics Out of Trauma: Asian American Literature and the Subject Formation of Asian America

Kase, Yasuko (State University of New York, Buffalo)

  • Abstract: This dissertation unravels the complex relationships between trauma, politics, and the subject formation of Asian America in order to challenge the assumption that the subject’s experiences define the political grounds of representation. The category of Asian American, which was contrived during the civil rights movement, has never produced the homogeneous identity of Asian America as the cultural nationalists imagined. Asian America has repeatedly negotiated both its discrepancy from and interpellation into hegemonic (White) America.

    Traumatic events such as the Philippine-American War, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992, and 9/11 have altered the formations of nationhood that redefine the relations among Asia, the U.S., and Asian America. Writers such as Japanese Americans John Okada, Perry Miyake, and Karen Tei Yamashita, Filipino American Jessica Hagedorn, Korean American Nora Okja Keller, and Vietnamese Americans Lan Cao and le thi dien thuy directly or indirectly deal with these historical traumas. These writers’ texts challenge the homogeneous U.S. official memory of the traumatic events through their rewritings.

    This dissertation argues that trauma does not bring a crisis for minority politics by simply destroying the subject. Rather, it offers a dynamic chance to problematize the foundations of politics itself, which has naturalized a uniform subject as the enunciating site for political representation

With and Without the White Coat: The Racialization of Southern California’s Indian Physicians

Murti, Lata (University of Southern California)

  • Abstract: This study examines the role of occupational status in the racialization of Indian physicians in Southern California. Since the liberalization of U.S. immigration policy in 1965, the number of first and second-generation Indian doctors in the U.S. has grown to nearly seven percent of the nation’s physician workforce; however, Indians constitute less than one percent of the total U.S. population.

    Overrepresented in one of America’s most prestigious professions, Indians are more visible in U.S. medicine than in the U.S. at large. Previous scholarship in immigration research, Asian American Studies, and the sociology of occupations has paid little attention to these professional non-white immigrants and their racial experience in the U.S. Asian American Studies in particular has focused primarily on the racial-ethnic identity formation of economically disadvantaged non-white groups, under the assumption that professional Asian Americans’ class status and occupations in the sciences effectively shield them from racist harm and preclude their engagement in racial politics. This research shows that Indian doctors’ high occupational status and class privilege provide them only partial, situational protection from racism. They have what I call occupational citizenship — access to most of the same rights and privileges as whites only when perceived as being both professionally successful and economically beneficial to the U.S.

    They are clearly marked as occupational citizens during clinical interactions with patients, when they are in the white coat. But outside of this context, they are subject to racist treatment from colleagues, staff, health care institutions, and the general public. The particular forms of racism these doctors face, as well as how they interpret this racism, have as much to do with their gender, immigrant generation, and perception of others’ race and class, as with their own professional class status. These findings are based on fifty-two interviews with first and second generation Indian doctors in Southern California as well as participant observation at the monthly meetings of two regional Indian medical associations. I also observed seven Indian doctors at work, noting their interactions with patients, staff, and colleagues. Southern California represents an ideal case for understanding the racial formation of Indian physicians in the U.S. because of its large but dispersed population of established Indian physicians, and its overall diversity of race, ethnicity, and class.

Implicit and Explicit Racial Attitudes: Moderation of Racial Typicality Evaluations

Stepanova, Elena V. (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Abstract: Previous research has shown that racial images representing more typical Afrocentric phenotypic characteristics result in more negative evaluations, whether assessed by explicit or implicit attitudes measures. However, the factors that define and moderate the perception of racial typicality have not been sufficiently explored. The current research investigated additive and interactive influences of skin tone and facial physiognomy on racial typicality evaluations, as well as the degree to which those effects were moderated by explicit and implicit racial attitudes, ethnicity of participants, and availability of cognitive resources.

    Using a 6-point scale ranging from very African American to very Caucasian, participants ( N = 250) judged faces varying on 10 levels of facial physiognomy (from very Afrocentric to very Eurocentric) and 10 levels of skin color (from very dark to very light). Additionally, time constraints were manipulated by having participants complete the racial typicality judgments three times–without a response deadline, with a deadline equal to their median response during the no-deadline condition, and with a deadline equal to their 25th percentile response during the no-deadline condition. Skin color and facial physiognomy interacted to influence racial typicality ratings, and this interaction was further qualified by the time constraint manipulation.

    Under time constraints, participants primarily relied on skin color when rating faces of extreme levels of facial physiognomy, whereas they relied on both skin color and facial physiognomy when rating faces of intermediate levels of facial physiognomy. Other results indicated that the relationship between skin color and participants’ ratings of racial typicality was stronger for those with higher implicit racial attitudes. European American and Asian American participants relied upon skin color more than African American participants, and African American participants relied upon facial physiognomy more than European American and Asian American participants. Conceptual, methodological and practical implications for race-relevant decisions are discussed.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Recent Dissertations on Asian Americans #2" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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