The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.
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.
In my ongoing series of interviews with Asian American academics that highlight new books and research that illuminate different aspects and details of the Asian American experience, I am very happy to present an interview with my friend and colleague, Professor Angie Y. Chung, faculty in Sociology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, regarding her new book Saving Face: The Emotional Costs of the Asian Immigrant Family Myth. Her book explores the complex interpersonal and societal dynamics and conflicts that play themselves out between second generation Asian Americans (as children and adults) and their immigrant parents. The book’s description:
Tiger Mom. Asian patriarchy. Model minority children. Generation gap. The many images used to describe the prototypical Asian family have given rise to two versions of the Asian immigrant family myth. The first celebrates Asian families for upholding the traditional heteronormative ideal of the “normal (white) American family” based on a hard-working male breadwinner and a devoted wife and mother who raises obedient children. The other demonizes Asian families around these very same cultural values by highlighting the dangers of excessive parenting, oppressive hierarchies, and emotionless pragmatism in Asian cultures.
Saving Face cuts through these myths, offering a more nuanced portrait of Asian immigrant families in a changing world as recalled by the people who lived them first-hand: the grown children of Chinese and Korean immigrants. Drawing on extensive interviews, sociologist Angie Y. Chung examines how these second-generation children negotiate the complex and conflicted feelings they have toward their family responsibilities and upbringing. Although they know little about their parents’ lives, she reveals how Korean and Chinese Americans assemble fragments of their childhood memories, kinship narratives, and racial myths to make sense of their family experiences. However, Chung also finds that these adaptive strategies come at a considerable social and psychological cost and do less to reconcile the social stresses that minority immigrant families endure today.
Saving Face not only gives readers a new appreciation for the often painful generation gap between immigrants and their children, it also reveals the love, empathy, and communication strategies families use to help bridge those rifts.
How much did you personally struggle with balancing a close relationship with your parents and assimilating into mainstream U.S. society when you were growing up?
To put it simply, my experience as the oldest daughter of Korean immigrants is the main reason why I even decided to become a professor. I would say that I had a relatively happy childhood but like many of the folks I interviewed, I struggled with intergenerational conflict, unequal parental expectations, and dual identity struggles all throughout my high school and college years. In high school, I tried to cultivate a sense of belonging by relating to my African American peers but around that time is when the conflicts between Korean storeowners and Black patrons first broke out in the media. I remember this one time when I was sitting in an African American history course and we started talking about the Brooklyn boycotts against a Korean merchant. The worst part wasn’t that people were speculating on the racism of Korean businessowners but that I didn’t know what to say because I knew so little about Korean immigrants and their experiences, despite being the child of Korean immigrants myself. That was really a turning point for me because it started me on a journey to learn more about my parents and the larger ethnic community, as well as others like myself caught between two worlds.
Many Americans who are not of Asian descent still see Asian Americans as the model minority and as almost universally successful. How would you respond to their reaction that Asian Americans have nothing to complain about?
The experiences of Korean and Chinese Americans are quite diverse — not just in terms of our class situations, family structures, neighborhood experiences, and parents’ migration histories but also, the emotional resources each of us can draw on from our family networks to cope with these day-to-day problems. If you read some of the narratives of Korean and Chinese Americans in this book, it is quite clear that many of them had to confront very traumatic and difficult situations as children and were forced to take on adult responsibilities at an early age because their parents were so busy trying to escape incredible hardships, survive in a new country, and deal with the humiliation of being treated as foreigners. I listened to stories about emotional and physical abuse, substance abuse, gambling addictions, molestation, and mental illness that afflicted different family members including themselves. Some were raised in single-parent homes and transnationally-split families, while others were fortunate to be raised in stable, emotionally supportive homes. But one thing I learned was that money did not always guarantee happiness, because even financially-secure family members could be struggling with so much emotionally as part of the immigrant minority experience.
The question readers may ask is then why do people think Korean and Chinese Americans are so “successful?” First of all, I’d like to problematize the way we narrowly define “success” as equated with money. Second, all of us are forced to come up with emotional strategies that allow us to preserve the dignity and dreams of our immigrant parents who sacrificed everything to come to this country while we try to assert our own identities, find our support systems, and follow independent paths for happiness. What that means is that we can’t just disagree or disrespect our parents and insult their friends in front of others without it reverberating throughout our entire family histories. It means that even if we experience racism, homophobia, peer rejection, sexual assault, or some other personal trauma, we cannot simply talk about it with our parents because not only do they not understand American coping strategies but it could also end up doing nothing but hurting them very deeply. It means that there is much more emotionally at stake when we choose a personally satisfying romantic relationship or career as opposed to the ones that our parents worked hard to build for us. It means that as we get older, it is so much easier to act the part of the “good girl” or “good son” in front of some, while being something else in front of others. It means that there is so much more guilt, uncertainty, and obligation that is wrapped up into something simple as not coming home for dinner.
Can you elaborate more on your concept of “saving face” and how it relates to how second generation Asian Americans navigating between their Asian and American identities?
A deeply-engrained part of Korean, Chinese and other East Asian cultures is the importance of managing one’s personal and collective dignity and reputation and protecting them from humiliating or embarrassing situations by whatever means necessary. This means not only molding one’s behavior in front of others but also reigning in feelings of angers, shame and disappointment that they fear may undermine their self-integrity.
It is interestingly this same strategy that second generation Korean and Chinese Americans have adopted to manage the many tensions, contradictions and conflicts that emerge between the pressures of family values and gendered expectations, between class privilege and racial marginalization, and between immigrant parents’ American Dream and their individual life goals. It is thus not a surprise that the image they project to the outside world does not always align with how they think, feel and behave inside. To me, saving face clearly demonstrates the amazing emotional resilience of Asian Americans to face their struggles as they come of age, but I also find that it has some substantial social costs, which I discuss throughout the book.
As your book highlights, there seems to be a very thin line between the model minority image and the “yellow peril” image of Asian Americans. How much did your respondents feel this tension in their everyday lives and interactions with other Americans?
The funny part was that if I started asking them if they ever felt any discrimination, most of them initially said no. But then you really start getting deeper into their personal life experiences and you start hearing about being treated as a foreigner, being blocked from work promotions, or being fetishized as geishas or demasculinized as sexless males in their dating relationships. The difficulty of articulating racism for Asian Americans is that the vocabulary we have been given in the post-Civil Rights era has been organized around Black-White race relations and that our experiences straddle the boundaries of “positive” and “negative” stereotypes — both of which have equally harmful effects but make it tricky to explain our grievances. So sure, some of us can use the model minority stereotypes to our advantage on occasion, but in the bigger picture of things, that thin line has created an even bigger barrier for us in terms of understanding our own racial experiences, finding allies among those who are oppressed by the same system, and voicing our political views to the outside world.
What are some pieces of advice that you can give young Asian Americans as they try to find the balance between retaining their ethnic identity and solidarity to their family and community, while also integrating themselves into mainstream U.S. society as much as possible?
The readership I would love to reach out to the most are young Asian Americans who I feel face the most pressures to negotiate these two worlds in their quest to fit in and find their identities but lack the emotional stability and support they need to deal with it head-on. My advice to them is to recognize that it is possible to achieve happiness in both worlds and to keep exploring new support systems to take them through this journey — whether it be through extended relatives, supportive friends, ethnic communities, or institutions. Despite the immense diversity of their families and experiences, the one common strand I found among almost all the participants is that they found ways to make sense of their struggles and come to terms with their relationship with their parents as they entered adulthood.
The other advice I would like to share is the need to create a proper emotional and racial vocabulary for Asian Americans by continuing to voice our political views, creating new ways to articulate our experiences whether it be through language, the arts, or the media, and cultivating ethnic political solidarity and non-Asian political allies including foreign-born Asians and other racial minorities. Recently, NBC got into hot water because they had plans to release a comedy sitcom about a white man who orders a Filipino mail order bride. Social media spread the news like wildfire and eventually NBC decided to cancel the sitcom. This would not have happened ten years ago and it is showing that we are also beginning to find our way, although we still have a long way to go.
As the political, economic, and cultural interconnections between the U.S. and Asia become more important (and presumably the rivalries along the same lines), how do you think Asian Americans will be seen by the rest of U.S. society going forward?
It is clear that the rise of the Asian immigrant family myth coincides not only with the stereotype of the dysfunctional Black family but more recently, with rising economic competition from China and the perception that Asians are outcompeting their White counterparts educationally and economically. The perpetuation of the Asian immigrant family myth including the evil patriarch, the Tiger Mom, and the robotic model minority child helps to reassert the global supremacy of white Americans by dehumanizing their perceived racial competitors and highlighting their own sense of moral superiority. Of course there are more dimensions to this story that we must consider to get at the different racial, gender and class dimensions of parenting and families in America, which may also explain the mixed reactions to Asian immigrant families, but if you ask me if this global context is relevant in any way, the simple answer is yes.
I am very pleased to present an interview with my friend and colleague, Professor Leslie K. Wang, faculty in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, regarding her new book Outsourced Children: Orphanage Care and Adoption in Globalizing China. Her book explores the political, economic, and cultural dynamics of western humanitarian organizations caring for orphan children, many with special needs, in modern China. The book’s description:
It’s no secret that tens of thousands of Chinese children have been adopted by American parents and that Western aid organizations have invested in helping orphans in China — but why have Chinese authorities allowed this exchange, and what does it reveal about processes of globalization?
Countries that allow their vulnerable children to be cared for by outsiders are typically viewed as weaker global players. However, Leslie K. Wang argues that China has turned this notion on its head by outsourcing the care of its unwanted children to attract foreign resources and secure closer ties with Western nations. She demonstrates the two main ways that this “outsourced intimacy” operates as an ongoing transnational exchange: first, through the exportation of mostly healthy girls into Western homes via adoption, and second, through the subsequent importation of first-world actors, resources, and practices into orphanages to care for the mostly special needs youth left behind.
Outsourced Children reveals the different care standards offered in Chinese state-run orphanages that were aided by Western humanitarian organizations. Wang explains how such transnational partnerships place marginalized children squarely at the intersection of public and private spheres, state and civil society, and local and global agendas. While Western societies view childhood as an innocent time, unaffected by politics, this book explores how children both symbolize and influence national futures.
What initially motivated you to research this dynamic of international adoption from China?
My interest in the topic of adoption dates back to when I studied abroad as a college student at Peking University during the late 1990s. At the time few Westerners lived there and Chinese society and economy was beginning to change very quickly. One day I visited the Forbidden City and was surprised to see two white American couples with strollers each carrying a Chinese baby girl. For the first time I became aware that children were being both abandoned and internationally adopted, and I wanted to find out how their movement across borders related to China–U.S. relations. Once I returned to the U.S. these issues became the focus of my senior honor’s thesis, then my master’s thesis, and eventually expanded into my dissertation and ultimately this book.
What’s your most notable or poignant memory in the time that you spent in China researching this topic?
During my fieldwork in orphanages, I was most touched by the moments when young children expressed deep care and compassion for each other. For example, oftentimes when another child was crying or in distress, kids as young as toddlers would run over to alert me to come help. One of the most poignant memories I have is from the four months I spent volunteering with a Western humanitarian group I call Tomorrow’s Children, which ran an infant palliative care unit on one floor of a Chinese state-run orphanage. I spent weeks getting to know a hilarious, spunky, and intelligent three-year-old girl with heart failure named Rose. Despite her poor physical condition, this tiny child would ask to “hold” other babies in the unit, clapping her hands before reaching out to hug them. I still have photos from these times, which I hold dear because Rose passed away shortly after.
Your book highlights the challenges faced by special needs youth in China. As China continues to modernize, how has its treatment of people (and particularly children) with special needs evolved through the years?
China does not have a great track record in terms of its treatment of individuals with disabilities, including children. Part of this is due to the state’s single-minded emphasis on furthering economic modernization and raising China’s global status since the late 1970s. To attain these goals, authorities have sought to create a productive, “high quality” workforce that only includes those who are able-bodied. Consequently, those who are seen as unable to contribute to this national agenda have been cast to the societal margins. Furthermore, there are lasting and pervasive cultural stigmas against disability in China that state officials have only exacerbated by maligning special needs children as undue burdens on their families and the country. That said, since the early 1980s, a set of policies has been enacted to protect the rights of disabled people. There is general consensus, however, that these laws have not been enforced uniformly, especially within rural areas with little access to financial, medical, and educational resources.
China recently rolled back its “One Child” policy and now allows two children per family. How do you think this change will affect international adoption in China?
For the past decade the trend of Chinese international adoptions has completely transformed. Most notably, whereas the majority of available children were once healthy female infants, now most international adoptees are children with minor to major special needs (many of them boys). Secondly, the overall rates of Western adoption have dramatically decreased as more domestic adoptions have taken place and more families have founds ways to keep additional children. The ending of the One Child Policy will likely intensify all of these shifts as citizens can have two children without penalty.
Beyond helping the Chinese children in their care, what are some other motivations on the part of the western humanitarian NGOs in this dynamic?
From my experience, the majority of Western humanitarian aid groups in China that are involved with orphan care are faith-based — typically Christian and Catholic. Although many volunteers would have liked to proselytize, they were limited in doing so by China’s atheistic stance toward religion. Therefore, I found that many of these groups engaged in “lifestyle evangelism,” in which they tried to use their work to set an example for local people to follow; they accomplished this by encouraging locals to care more about marginalized youth and by importing first-world care practices and philosophies about children into local orphanages. So beyond merely helping institutionalized youth, I would say that numerous Western NGOs were also motivated to expose Chinese people to more global notions of human rights.
The luster surrounding China’s meteoric economic rise during the last 30 years seems to be waning, as citizens from both developed and less-developed nations are increasingly weary about the negative impacts of globalization. How do you think this recent trend will affect international adoption from China going forward?
While it is true that China’s development has slowed down in recent years, I don’t believe that this has impacted Western parents’ desire to adopt. If anything, the demand for Chinese children (especially healthy female infants) has increased over time and stayed high in countries across the global north. The major difference is that domestic changes in China have shifted the supply of adoptable youth to include more disabled, ill, and older kids. So I would say that the lower numbers of adopted Chinese children have more to do with the implementation of domestic Chinese state policies that don’t specifically have to do with international adoption.
One country that has transitioned from being less-developed to highly-developed is South Korea. They were also a source of large numbers of international adoptions but have dramatically reduced the number of its children adopted internationally in recent years. Do you think China is headed in that direction?
Definitely. As I noted earlier, China is already headed in that direction. For the case of South Korea, during the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics government authorities were heavily critiqued for “exporting” babies to other countries. As a result, the South Korean government began to slow adoptions and ultimately decreased them by more than two-thirds. In China’s case, the numbers have dropped dramatically from a high of roughly 14,000 foreign placements in 2005 to fewer than 3,000 in 2014. Since the emphasis now is on special needs children, who have low chances of domestic adoption due to cultural stigmas against disabilities, this trend may continue for some time. It’s conceivable that China will eventually stop adoptions altogether, though it is unclear when that time might be.
Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues, with a particular focus on Asian Americans. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.
Call for Papers: Between Asia and Latin America: New Transpacific Perspectives
Edited by Andrea Bachner (Cornell University) and Pedro Erber (Cornell University)
Asia and the Americas no longer occupy the disconnected extremes of an imagined map. Nor do they continue to embody the antipodes of East and West, framing Europe as the symbolic center. Rather, accelerated by recent geopolitical and global economic shifts, the Transpacific has emerged as a space of intense transcultural movements and exchanges, reviving the “swarmlike buzz of activity” around and across the perimeter of the Pacific that Claude Lévi-Strauss had pitted against “the great Atlantic silence” prior to the “discovery” of the Americas (Tristes Tropiques 297). And yet, most approaches to the cultural interactions of the Transpacific remain limited by a focus on the Northern part of the Americas, often equating the label of “American” implicitly (or explicitly) with the US. Recent exciting work on the Transpacific that has started to include Latin America, thus troubling not only easy divisions of East and West, but also of North and South, often divided into and thus limited by the perspectives of specific disciplines, such as Asian-American studies, Latin-American Studies, or diaspora studies.
This special issue will gather different emerging approaches to the intercultural study of Asia and Latin America with the aim of rethinking the Transpacific as a method, a lens for comparison, rather than simply an area or a region. The emergence of new Transpacific perspectives signals the myriad possibilities of new transregional frameworks that challenge conventional geopolitical models of comparative studies. Consequently, we invite essays that approach the real and imagined spaces of the Transpacific between Asia and Latin America from a wide variety of perspectives and disciplines. We especially welcome work that reflects critically and creatively on the multiple possible meanings, methodologies, and mappings of the Transpacific and that pays attention to alternative links between Asia and Latin America: from diaspora, textual circulation, and cultural exchanges to uneven dialogues, compelling analogies, or conceptual affinities.
Submission deadline: August 1, 2016
Please submit queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the journal, see https://www.upress.umn.edu/journal-division/journals/verge-studies-in-global-asias.
Call for Papers: Creative Works by Women of Color Academics
Deadline for abstracts: Sept. 30, 2016
In this book, we will feature narratives of women of color academics who embody what we call academic bravery. These are women who have demonstrated courage in their scholarship, teaching, mentoring, service, activism, and leadership, despite the potential professional risks. As with any academic, these scholars work in contexts wherein academic cowardice is the norm; despite rewards for productivity, creativity, and innovation, scholars are implicitly rewarded to a far greater extent for “playing it safe,” remaining “objective,” detached and apolitical in their work, and refusing to challenge the status quo in academia and beyond. These conservative norms pose constraints on marginalized scholars, namely women of color, who pursue academic careers to liberate themselves and their communities. Despite the stereotype that college campuses are liberal, social justice utopias, the academy has increasingly become a risk-averse and conservative profession.
“But some of us are brave…”
In this forthcoming edited volume, we aim to celebrate the bravery of women of color academics in the 21st century. We invite women of color scholars to reflect on their courageous acts as researchers, teachers, mentors, administrators, advocates, activists, and entrepreneurs, no matter the professional risks. All contributions should explicitly reflect upon risk-taking, speaking up and out, challenging oppressive norms, surviving and thriving, overcoming professional and personal obstacles, innovation, and/or entrepreneurship. We strongly encourage potential contributors to 1) inspire women of color (academic or not) and other marginalized people and/or 2) to offer specific strategies for women of color academics to harness their bravery. We welcome submissions of personal narratives in the form of:
Other creative works
While these narratives may cite empirical work, and we welcome empirically-based essays, the focus of the book is not to advance scientific inquiry on a particular topic but to validate the common struggles women of color experience in the academy. The book is intended to give voice to a frequently silenced segment of the academy by making visible and honoring courageous work that often goes unnoticed or is even penalized. The hope is that many contributors will find this book a place to publish work that may be otherwise “homeless.”
We invite the full diversity of women of color academics, including Black/African American, Latina/Hispanic, Asian/Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American/American Indian, Arab/Arab American, Muslim, and immigrant women. We use a broad and inclusive definition of “woman of color,” thus welcoming trans and cisgender women of color; queer, pansexual, bisexual, lesbian, asexual, and heterosexual women of color; women of color with and without disabilities; religious and nonreligious women of color; women of color of diverse body sizes; and, first-gen, working-class, and middle-class women of color. In addition, we welcome women of color scholars from all academic disciplines, all career stages, and all post-PhD/terminal degree careers (e.g., alt-ac, post-ac, contingent faculty, non-tenure track, and tenure-track faculty).
The deadline for abstracts is September 30th, 2016. Submit your abstract (400 words or less) and a short biography electronically to email@example.com. Accepted abstracts will be invited as full-length submissions, which are due by February 17th, 2017. Full papers should be submitted as Microsoft Word documents that are double-spaced and use 12-point Times New Roman font; they should range from 15-25 pages, plus references in APA style.
About the Editors:
Dr. Manya Whitaker is an Assistant Professor of Education at Colorado College where she teaches courses focused on social and political issues in education. Her areas of expertise include urban education, culturally relevant pedagogy, and developmentally appropriate teaching. In her Connecting Learning Across Social Settings (CLASS) lab, Dr. Whitaker conducts research concerned with how to best prepare teachers to teach culturally and linguistically diverse students. She is the founder of Blueprint Educational Strategies, an educational consulting business that provides workshops for teachers and administrators, as well as guidance and advocacy for families. She is also a blogger and regular contributor for Conditionally Accepted.com – an online career advice column and community for marginalized scholars. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Their research focuses on the impact of prejudice and discrimination on the health, well-being, and worldviews of marginalized groups – namely trans and queer people, people of color, and women, especially individuals who are members of multiple oppressed groups. Dr. Grollman is also an intellectual activist who focuses on making the academy a more just, humane, equitable, and accessible place. They are the founder and editor of the blog, ConditionallyAccepted.com, which is now a weekly career advice column for marginalized scholars on Inside Higher Ed. They can be reached by email at email@example.com.
This past Friday, June 3 2016, Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74. More than being regarded as the greatest boxers ever, Muhammad Ali is remembered as one of the most significant, famous, and celebrated athletes of all time. His legacy transcends his accomplishments inside the boxing ring and also encompasses his tradition of political activism, outspoken support of disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, and his inspiring life history as a role model, social critic, and social conscience of U.S. society.
As with almost all public figures, Muhammad Ali was also a controversial and polarizing figure in U.S. history. Perhaps the most controversial episode for which he was known was his resistance to being drafted to fight in the Viet Nam War. His immense impact on the Asian American community is perhaps best represented by his famous quote at the time, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
After refusing to be inducted into the U.S. military on April 28, 1967, he was convicted of a felony and all of the major boxing associations stripped him of his title and prevented him from competing professionally for over three years. During this period, he was widely denounced and vilified by much of the U.S. as a traitor to the country, with the hostility magnified even more because he was a Black man.
However, in 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his felony conviction. Despite the public criticism of his refusal to be drafted, Muhammad Ali never wavered in his refusal to participate in the Viet Nam War and continued to work in support of the Civil Rights Movement and efforts toward social justice around the world. He stood his moral ground and in his own words, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
Time eventually heals all wounds and in recent decades, Muhammad Ali rightfully became known as of the most towering and revered Americans of the late twentieth century. In addition to the multitude of statements and tweets commemorating his life from athletes, public figures, and others around the world, I would like to share some excerpts from a fellow sociologist, the well-renowned Professor Harry Edwards of U.C. Berkeley (edited for length):
It is only when a GIANT passes from among us and we stand blinking and rubbing our eyes in the glaring reality of our loss that we come truly to appreciate how much we all have really been just living in his shadow. So it is with Muhammad Ali: he was an athlete of unparalleled brilliance, beauty, and bravado at a time when black athletes . . . were expected to be silent, self-effacing “producers,” not loquacious, verbose entertaining performers in the arena. . . .
He influenced people from the most powerful (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, for example) to the most naive students and “draft vulnerable” youths to rethink their positions on the issue of “war and peace.”
He was the model for a generation of “activist athletes” relative to the questions of athlete political relevance and involvement. He taught us all by word and example that there can be no “for sale” sign, no “price tag” on principles, human dignity, and freedom, among so many of his other contributions. . . . “The Greatest” doesn’t begin to truly capture the magnitude and measure of his broad scope, contributions and legacy.
Along with millions of Americans and billions of people around the world, I will remember Muhammad Ali as a truly inspiring, transformative, and monumental person who was a tremendously courageous trailblazer for professional athletes, African Americans, Asian Americans, and the entire human race. Rest in peace, champ.
By now, you’ve heard of the controversy surrounding how all the acting nominees at the 2016 Academy Awards were entirely White, with no actor of color nominated. And you probably saw host Chris Rock’s take on the situation throughout the Oscars awards ceremony. And hopefully you saw the skit in which three Asian American children were used as props for a rather weak and ultimately offensive skit.
Lots of people and many Asian Americans have rightfully called out Chris Rock’s skit as downright racist. One of the best critiques (in my biased opinion) comes from fellow Asian American professor, UMass Amherst colleague, and my wife Miliann Kang in her piece at Contexts magazine, titled “An Asian American Mother’s Question to Chris Rock and the Academy.” An excerpt:
Out walked three Asian American children, wearing tuxes and thick glasses. Chris Rock introduced them as accountants from the prestigious firm of Pricewaterhouse Coopers—Ming Zu, Bao Ling, and…David Moskowitz? Then anticipating the pushback, he added that if anyone was upset they should “just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids.”
I looked over at my sixteen year-old daughter who looked stunned. Was this really happening? She loves Chris Rock. She loves movies. We were right there with him, so what happened? . . .
These are the oldest tricks in the racial playbook -— kick the next person down on the rung. Divide and conquer. Shame and blame. Dump the pain on someone else. I know Chris Rock did not create these problems, and he has done much to try to address them. And whether or not Chris Rock made racist jokes about Asians, Hollywood would still have a race problem. But on this night, he also added to them. . . .
I thought we were further along than this. I thought my child would not have to endure the same inane, stupid racist jokes that I grew up with, not on the playground, not in the movies, not on a night that was supposed to highlight the importance of diversity in the movies.
Again, I am obviously biased since the author happens to be my wife, but I think her valuable contribution to the discussion of this incident is to both put it in the larger institutional context of the U.S. racial landscape while also personalizing its effect on our family as well.
As the spring semester gets underway at many colleges and universities around the country, that means that new groups of students get their first introduction to Asian American Studies. With that in mind, these recently-published books provide some more details and sociological context about the history and contemporary dynamics of the Asian American community.
Asian Americans are often stereotyped as the “model minority.” Their sizeable presence at elite universities and high household incomes have helped construct the narrative of Asian American “exceptionalism.” While many scholars and activists characterize this as a myth, pundits claim that Asian Americans’ educational attainment is the result of unique cultural values. In The Asian American Achievement Paradox, sociologists Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou offer a compelling account of the academic achievement of the children of Asian immigrants.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with the adult children of Chinese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees and survey data, Lee and Zhou bridge sociology and social psychology to explain how immigration laws, institutions, and culture interact to foster high achievement among certain Asian American groups. For the Chinese and Vietnamese in Los Angeles, Lee and Zhou find that the educational attainment of the second generation is strikingly similar, despite the vastly different socioeconomic profiles of their immigrant parents. Because immigration policies after 1965 favor individuals with higher levels of education and professional skills, many Asian immigrants are highly educated when they arrive in the United States.
They bring a specific “success frame,” which is strictly defined as earning a degree from an elite university and working in a high-status field. This success frame is reinforced in many local Asian communities, which make resources such as college preparation courses and tutoring available to group members, including their low-income members. While the success frame accounts for part of Asian Americans’ high rates of achievement, Lee and Zhou also find that institutions, such as public schools, are crucial in supporting the cycle of Asian American achievement. Teachers and guidance counselors, for example, who presume that Asian American students are smart, disciplined, and studious, provide them with extra help and steer them toward competitive academic programs.
These institutional advantages, in turn, lead to better academic performance and outcomes among Asian American students. Yet the expectations of high achievement come with a cost: the notion of Asian American success creates an “achievement paradox” in which Asian Americans who do not fit the success frame feel like failures or racial outliers. While pundits ascribe Asian American success to the assumed superior traits intrinsic to Asian culture, Lee and Zhou show how historical, cultural, and institutional elements work together to confer advantages to specific populations. An insightful counter to notions of culture based on stereotypes, The Asian American Achievement Paradox offers a deft and nuanced understanding how and why certain immigrant groups succeed.
A New History of Asian America is a fresh and up-to-date history of Asians in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present. Drawing on current scholarship, Shelley Lee brings forward the many strands of Asian American history, highlighting the distinctive nature of the Asian American experience while placing the narrative in the context of the major trajectories and turning points of U.S. history. Covering the history of Filipinos, Koreans, Asian Indians, and Southeast Indians as well as Chinese and Japanese, the book gives full attention to the diversity within Asian America.
A robust companion website features additional resources for students, including primary documents, a timeline, links, videos, and an image gallery. From the building of the transcontinental railroad to the celebrity of Jeremy Lin, people of Asian descent have been involved in and affected by the history of America. A New History of Asian America gives twenty-first-century students a clear, comprehensive, and contemporary introduction to this vital history.
Born out of the Civil Rights and Third World Liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Asian American Studies has grown significantly over the past four decades, both as a distinct field of inquiry and as a potent site of critique. Characterized by transnational, trans-Pacific, and trans-hemispheric considerations of race, ethnicity, migration, immigration, gender, sexuality, and class, this multidisciplinary field engages with a set of concepts profoundly shaped by past and present histories of racialization and social formation.
The keywords included in this collection are central to social sciences, humanities, and cultural studies and reflect the ways in which Asian American Studies has transformed scholarly discourses, research agendas, and pedagogical frameworks.Spanning multiple histories, numerous migrations, and diverse populations, Keywords for Asian American Studies reconsiders and recalibrates the ever-shifting borders of Asian American studies as a distinctly interdisciplinary field.
While there are books on racism in universities, few examine the unique position of Asian American undergraduates. This new book captures the voices and experiences of Asian Americans navigating the currents of race, gender, and sexuality as factors in how youth construct relationships and identities. Interviews with 70 Asian Americans on an elite American campus show how students negotiate the sexualized racism of a large institution. The authors emphasize the students’ resilience and their means of resistance for overcoming the impact of structural racism.
In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.
An epic history of global journeys and new beginnings, this book shows how generations of Asian immigrants and their American-born descendants have made and remade Asian American life in the United States: sailors who came on the first trans-Pacific ships in the 1500s; indentured “coolies” who worked alongside African slaves in the Caribbean; and Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and South Asian immigrants who were recruited to work in the United States only to face massive racial discrimination, Asian exclusion laws, and for Japanese Americans, incarceration during World War II.
Over the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. No longer a “despised minority,” Asian Americans are now held up as America’s “model minorities” in ways that reveal the complicated role that race still plays in the United States. Published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the United States’ Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that has remade our “nation of immigrants,” this is a new and definitive history of Asian Americans. But more than that, it is a new way of understanding America itself, its complicated histories of race and immigration, and its place in the world today.
Below is a solicitation for respondents for an online survey about experiences of discrimination by Asian American men. As always, the announcement is provided for informational purposes and does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the research study being conducted.
I am emailing you for distributing my survey on Asian American men’s experiences of discrimination on your blog. I am currently a doctoral student in counseling psychology at Indiana University Bloomington and collecting data for a research project. This survey intents to understand how Asian American men experience discrimination differently from Asian American women or men of other races.
This is a anonymous survey that investigates Asian American men’s experiences of discrimination based on both of their gender and race. Eligible participants are Asian American men who are 18 or older, either born and raised in the U.S. or immigrated to the U.S. at age 10 or younger. The survey takes 30 minutes to complete and each participant has the chance of winning a $20 Amazon gift card after completing the survey.
This study has been approved by Indiana University’s Institutional Research Board. The results of the study will be used to develop scales that measure Asian American men’s experiences of gendered racism. Please consider this request. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at liu323@Indiana.edu or my dissertation advisor Dr. Joel Wong at joelwong@Indiana.edu . Thank you very much!
Tao Liu, M.S. & M.A.
Doctoral Student in Counseling Psychology
Indiana University Bloomington
Below is a solicitation for respondents for an online survey about Chinese Americans who were internationally separated from their parents. As always, the announcement is provided for informational purposes and does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the research study being conducted.
We are seeking Chinese Americans for a new paid research study that looks at international separation between parents and children. You may qualify if you: 1) are 18 years or older; 2) lived in China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong as a child for at least six months while both of your parents were in North America; and 3) can speak about your experiences at length.
You will receive a $30 Amazon gift card for filling out an online survey and participating in a phone interview. The researchers are affiliated with Wellesley College, Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
The fact is: such deportations are already happening, in record numbers. Experts are divided about what the impact of President Obama’s 2014 executive order will be. Will the granting of temporary status be outweighed by the increased enforcement measures?
In the meantime, families continue to live in fear, especially those with children.
When we deport their parents, we reinforce the rhetoric that “anchor babies” are a drain on the system by turning them into public charges. I have been thinking a lot about these left-behind children as my teaching at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and research on immigration intersects with their very real stories.
1.6 Million Kids
In September, five-year-old Sofía Cruz captured headlines and sympathy when she delivered a letter to Pope Francis pleading for comprehensive immigration reform.
Rewind five years. Then seven-year-old Daisy Cuevas stole hearts by telling Michelle Obama that “Barack Obama is taking away everybody who doesn’t have papers” and “my mom doesn’t have any.’ Her family then went into hiding.
Sofía’s and Daisy’s only crime is being born to parents who lack proper papers. That and being brown, or yellow.
In the span of eight years, our nation’s decision to deport 3,165,426 unauthorized immigrants has affected about 1,582,711 citizen-children. … Legislators who promote increased enforcement effectively increase family disruption and separation; citizen-children are collateral damage.”
Potentially as many citizen-children are living abroad in exile, as their parents grapple with taking them to countries where they have never set foot or leaving their children in the US.
Sammy is a teenager I recently met who was born and raised in the Southwest. His parents were living in the US, working and raising their children, until they were stopped for a traffic violation, or audited for taxes, or turned in by a teacher or medical provider, or any of the mundane ways that undocumented status gets uncovered.
Now Sammy is living with foster parents. They are kind and genuinely interested in his well-being. Sammy is doing his best to adjust to a new school and community. His parents communicate with him regularly, but they can’t be here to help him learn to drive, prepare for the SAT or nurse him through his first heartbreak.
In Loco Parentis
I am glad Sammy has someone in loco parentis – in place of a parent – to help him weather the normal teen dramas, and the exceptional challenges of his situation. But I also think we as a society are “loco” for refusing to fix an immigration system that makes so many parents unable to parent their own children.
The Economic Policy Institute’s Facts About Immigration and the U.S. Economy states:
“Immigrants have an outsized role in US economic output because they are disproportionately likely to be working and are concentrated among prime working ages. Indeed, despite being 13% of the population, immigrants comprise 16% of the labor force.”
In recognition of this reality and to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, Congress introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, but failed to pass it.
As these studies show, we rely on immigrant labor to care for our children, elders and sick, but do not provide sufficient legal pathways for them to do this work, then vilify them for breaking the law and deport them. Many people have heard about the massive increase in deportations, but ignore them or convince themselves that they are necessary. The argument goes that these are criminals and potential terrorists, rather than our neighbors and our coworkers.
We are in a moment where we may be able to see these children, and their parents, as people and citizens, but we have had many of these moments and they have passed without action. It’s time now to move away from this crazy loco parentis.
Below is a solicitation for respondents for an online survey about parenting practices among Asian American fathers. As always, the announcement is provided for informational purposes and does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the research study being conducted.
My name is Zuzanna Molenda-Kostanski and I am a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program in the Department of Professional Psychology and Family Therapy at Seton Hall University. I am interested in gaining a better understanding of the experiences of Asian American men as fathers by exploring how certain factors, including acculturation, gender-role conflict and parenting self-efficacy may impact father’s involvement with children. I would like to invite you to participate in my study.
The study consists of a survey that is quick and easy to fill out. You can complete it online at your own convenience, and it may take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
Participation in this study is completely voluntary and anonymous. The survey will not ask you for any identifying information about you and you are free to withdraw at any time. Additionally, any information gathered from the study will be kept on a USB memory key and stored in a locked secure office that will only be accessible to myself and my research advisor, Dr. Laura Palmer.
If you are at least 18 years old and are willing to participate in this study please click on the following link: https://shucehs.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5uJYdeSa6QVoVrn
Your consent to participate in the study is indicated by clicking on the link and completing the survey. The survey will be running between August 2015 and January 2016.
If you have any questions about the study please feel free to contact me or my research adviser using the contact information provided below. This study has been approved by the Seton Hall University Institutional Review Board.
Thank you for your time and consideration of your participation in my study.
Zuzanna Molenda-Kostanski, M.A.
Counseling Psychology PhD Program
Seton Hall University
Laura Palmer, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychology PhD Program Seton Hall University
Mary F. Ruzicka, Ph.D.
Director of Institutional Review Board
Seton Hall University
I must admit that I did not know that June is Immigrant Heritage Month. Up until now, I thought that although the U.S. recognizes all sorts of historical occasions with their own official month that we did not have a month to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to the U.S., despite the U.S. supposedly being the “Land of Immigrants.” I was therefore surprised to learn that 2014 was the first year that we officially celebrated June as Immigrant Heritage Month. Better late than never, I suppose.
At any rate, to mark this occasion, the Census Bureau released the infographic below that highlights some important demographic data and trends about the U.S.’s foreign-born population in 2010 compared to 1960.
If you are interested, the Census Bureau also has a more detailed summary report titled “The Foreign-Born Population in the U.S.: 2010” as well. Here are some highlights regarding the U.S.’s foreign-born population in 2010, with some comparisons to the U.S.-born population:
In 2010, more than 1 in 4 foreign-born residents lived in California.
Over 80% of the foreign-born population was between the ages of 18 to 64, compared to 60% for the U.S.-born population.
However, the native population had a higher proportion under the age of 18 than the foreign-born population. About 27% of the native population was under age 18, compared with 7% of the foreign born. This difference reflects the fact that children of immigrants born in the United States are, by definition, native.
More than three-fourths (77%) of foreign-born households and almost two-thirds (65%) of native households were family households.
A higher proportion of foreign-born (55%) than native (48%) households were maintained by a married couple. Among the regions of birth, householders born in Asia (63%) and Oceania (62%) were the most likely to be in a married-couple household. Within Latin America, households with a householder born in Mexico were the most likely to be maintained by a married couple (58%).
The average size of foreign-born households (3.4 persons) was larger than that of native households (2.5 persons). One reason for this difference is that a higher proportion of foreign-born family households (62%) than native-born family households (47%) included children under the age of 18.
Additionally, a higher proportion of foreign-born family households (10%) than native-born family households (5%) were multi-generational households with three or more generations living together.
Fifteen percent of the foreign-born population spoke only English at home. An additional 33% spoke a language other than English at home and spoke English “very well.”
In terms of educational attainment, among the foreign born aged 25 and older, 68% were high school graduates or higher, including 27% who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. By comparison, 89% of the native born aged 25 and older were high school graduates, including 28% who had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Foreign-born males (79%) were more likely to be in the labor force than native males (68%). In contrast, native females (60%) were more likely to have participated in the labor force compared with foreign-born females (57%).
The median household income of foreign-born households in the 12 months prior to being surveyed was $46,224, compared with $50,541 for native households. The difference in income was larger when focusing only on family households: the median income was $62,358 for families with a native householder and
$49,785 for families with a foreign-born householder.
Finally, we sure to look through Asian-Nation’s list of best documentaries about immigration, arranged by category:
Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues, with a particular focus on Asian Americans. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.
Call for Submissions: Intersectionality and Public Policy
Call for chapters for an edited volume on Intersectionality and Public Policy
Olena Hankivsky (Simon Fraser University), and Julia Jordan-Zachery (Providence College)
Intersectionality is concerned with simultaneous intersections between aspects of social difference and identity (e.g., race, gender, class) and forms of systematic oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, classism) at macro and micro levels and their varied impacts. Central theoretical tenets of intersectionality are: human lives cannot be reduced to single characteristics; human experiences cannot be accurately understood by prioritizing any one factor or constellation of factors; social categories such as race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and ability are socially constructed and dynamic; social locations are inseparable and shaped by interacting and mutually constituting social processes and power structures that are influenced by time and place.
Grounded in black feminist scholarship and activism (e.g., Collins, 1990; Combahee River Collective, 1977; hooks, 1984) and formally coined in 1989, by black legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, intersectionality has been used across a significant number of disciplines. Diverse scholars have drawn on intersectionality to challenge inequities and promote social justice, as have government policy actors, human rights activists and community organizers. Indeed, while it is easier to simplify research, policy analysis and practice by labeling people into single or separate (e.g., female, male), rather than multiple and interlocking categories (e.g., poor, female immigrant of colour), it is increasingly apparent that this way of utilizing one category is limited in its ability to accurately represent the complexity of social life (Hankivsky et al., 2012). Against this backdrop, intersectionality is now recognized as a significant research and policy paradigm for bringing about necessary shifts in how social issues and related inequities are understood and addressed.
Simultaneously, an ongoing challenge is how to operationalize intersectionality, especially in relation to policy analysis. Until very recently, strong claims were made that effective methodologies do not exist. The situation is, however, rapidly changing. Scholars are advancing conceptual clarity, precision and guidance for intersectionality applications, in both research and policy. Nevertheless, advancements in the context of public policy are in nascent stages (e.g. Lombardo, Meier and Verloo 2009; Manuel 2006; Parken and Young 2010; Hancock 2011; Hankivsky and Cormier 2011; Hankivsky, 2012; Wilson 2013; Jordan-Zachery and Wilson 2014) and there is a pressing need for knowledge development and exchange in relation to empirical work that demonstrates how intersectionality improves public policy.
The goal of our edited collection is bring together international scholars to consider the state of the art of intersectionality in the context of policy research and analysis. Special consideration will be given to submissions from developing and transitional country contexts. We are looking for submissions that reflect on key challenges, possibilities and critiques of intersectionality-informed approaches across a variety of policy sectors, including but not limited to health, education, social policy, the environment, and the economy.
200 word abstracts of your proposed chapter submission are due August 1 2015. Please send your abstracts to BOTH Olena Hankivsky firstname.lastname@example.org, and Julia Jordan-Zachery email@example.com. All invited authors will be notified by August 31, 2015 and completed chapters will be due by December 1, 2015.
Call for Papers, Graduate Students: Intergenerational Collaborations
Amerasia Journal, Special Issue Call for Papers
Intergenerational Collaborations: Graduate Student Scholarship in Asian American Studies
Professor Yến Lê Espiritu (University of California, San Diego) and Professor Cathy J. Schlund-‐Vials (University of Connecticut)
Paper submissions (6,000 – 7,000 words, inclusive of endnotes) due September 1, 2015
Since finding a permanent publishing home at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center Press in 1971, Amerasia Journal has served as a scholarly hub for Asian American Studies. Slated for publication in Summer/Fall 2016, marking the journal’s forty -‐ fifth anniversary, this special issue of Amerasia Journal brings together graduate student scholarship and faculty mentorship — two foundational components of the field of Asian American Studies. The issue is innovative in two ways: it is devoted exclusively to graduate student work, and it pairs graduate student authors with senior scholars who will provide guidance during the revision process.
The guest editors will be responsible for selecting the papers to be sent out for review, and for connecting graduate student authors with appropriate senior scholars in the field. Such “intergenerational” collaborations represent an Amerasia “first,” and the editors are guided by the desire to increase both access for and representation of graduate students in the field’s leading interdisciplinary journal.
As a key frame, the editors in part return to the journal’s mission statement, which reflects the founding, revisionary tenets of a field born out of civil rights movements and international liberation struggles. The open nature of this call for submissions — which takes seriously the diversity of Asian American Studies scholarship— echoes the innovative, multidisciplinary work that has been a hallmark of Amerasia Journal. Understanding that Asian American Studies has grown considerably over the past four decades, the editors ask possible contributors to situate their work within and beyond the context of this originating mission and multifaceted vision.
Submission Guidelines and Review Process:
The guest editors, in consultation with the Amerasia Journal editors, reviewers, and potential mentors, will make the decisions on which submissions will be included in the special issue. The review process is as follows:
Initial review of submitted papers by guest editors and Amerasia Journal editorial staff
Papers approved by editors will undergo blind peer review
Accepted projects will be assigned an appropriate mentor, who will work with the writer to develop and revise the submission; this process should begin and go through the last few months of 2015
Revision of accepted papers and final submission for production
Please send correspondence and papers regarding the special issue to the following addresses. All correspondence should refer to “Amerasia Journal Intergenerational Collaborations” in the subject line.
Professor Yến Lê Espiritu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Cathy J. Schlund-‐Vials: email@example.com
Arnold Pan, Associate Editor, Amerasia Journal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Papers: Cross-Racial and Cross-Ethnic Personal and Group Relationships
A special issue of Societies
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 September 2015
Special Issue Editors:
Dr. Silvia Dominguez
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Dr. Cid Martinez
Department of Sociology, Sacramento Sate University, Sacramento, CA 95819-6005, USA
Phone: +916 278 6694
In the face of an increasingly complex society, people seek out and form relations with those whom they feel safe and comfortable and perceive to be similar. As a result, racial and ethnic groups form their own distinct social networks that are separated and isolated from others, limiting information and awareness and the ability to develop consensus to address community problems and promote mobility. Homogenous networks also limit the ability of affluent groups to appreciate and address the social barriers of less fortunate groups. They are thus more likely to reinforce negative views of minorities, and the poor. Frequently, inter-racial/ethnic division is the norm rather than the exception.
In fact, very few people have access and/or opportunity to develop cross-racial, or ethnic relationships due to the long lasting high levels of racial and ethnic segregation. Nevertheless, we know that Asians and Latin Americans have high rates of intermarriage, which signifies the emergence of networks that cross ethnicity and or racial lines. This special issue provides a window into the social mechanisms that foster cross ethnic and cross-racial and ethnic networks. What makes people develop heterogeneous networks across race and ethnicity? What do people gain from these heterogeneous networks?
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.
Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.
Call for Submissions: Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies
2016 Calls for Papers: Gateways, Ports and Portals: Re-imagining Points of Departure for Asian American Studies
2016 Association for Asian American Studies Conference
April 27-30, 2016, Miami, Florida
Submissions due by: October 16th, 2015
Chris Lee (University of British Columbia) and Crystal Parikh (New York University)
Inspired by the city of Miami’s nickname –- “the Gateway to Latin America’ -– the 2016 conference asks participants to consider how forms of movement, transit, and exchange have shaped Asian America. If Asian American Studies has been frequently conceived as an intellectual, institutional, and political point of arrival, how would identifying alternative points of departure reconfigure our conceptions of the field? How might relocating origins and destinations not only change our notions of what the field is, and what it might become, but also the “gateways, ports, and portals” that enable our research, teaching, and activism?
Florida is an especially apt site to consider overlapping encounters between empires and other forces of modernity. Its intersecting histories of indigeneity, slavery, labor migrations, and refugee resettlements call for comparative approaches that place Asian American Studies in different continental, hemispheric, and, even planetary configurations. The state has been a key site in overlapping circuits of workers, intellectuals, artists, social movements and capitalist systems, reflecting its close connections to the Atlantic and Caribbean worlds.
In turn, the changing environmental conditions along Florida’s coastlines and the Everglades prompt us to look to ecocritical approaches that interrogate “the human” as the primary subject and scale of ethnic studies. As one of the hardest hit housing markets on the U.S. eastern seaboard during the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession, the conference location asks us to consider how contemporary forces of finance and speculative capital urgently call for critical, institutional, policy, and activist analyses and responses that question our conceptions of vulnerability, risk, crisis, and recovery.
As a key electoral swing state, Florida further prompts an examination of Asian Americans’ role in political contests, coalitions, and consensus-building. While the proportion of its population that identifies as Asian American is relatively small, Miami is a metropolis with remarkable racial diversity. This might inspire us to consider how comparative perspectives can inform and challenge the research and teaching agendas of Asian American Studies.
These questions call for intellectual conversations across the humanities, social, and physical sciences, as well as professional fields such as public policy, law, public health, and education.
Our 2016 conference theme thus invites participants to reflect on how disciplinary gatekeeping and entryways inform, but also restrict, the ways in which we undertake Asian American Studies. What innovative approaches, such as comparative, multilingual and/or interdisciplinary frameworks, has Asian American Studies remitted not only to traditional academic disciplines, but fields such as American, postcolonial, and diaspora studies among others?
How does the growth of Asian American Studies outside the borders of the United States demand a deeper interrogation of the often unacknowledged (US) nationalist biases of the field? We accordingly invite participants from all disciplines to submit proposals that engage seriously with questions and productive possibilities of collaboration and conflict, as we shuttle across the imagined spaces of Asian America.
We welcome scholarship, cultural work, as well as political activist submissions for the 2016 AAAS conference. Proposals for mentorship or professionalization round tables, panels, or workshops are also welcome. All submissions and proposals are due Friday, October 16, 2015. Please note: Participants may only appear in the program twice and only in different roles.
Program Questions? For specific questions regarding type of sessions, submission guidelines, or other programmatic issues, please contact the Program Committee Co-Chairs: Chris Lee (Chris.Lee@ubc.ca) and Crystal Parikh (Crystal.Parikh@nyu.edu).