Topics & Articles

Home

Culture

Ethnic Groups

History

Issues

Links

Viet Nam



Search

or Browse the Archives

or Gets Posts by Tags



Most Popular Books on Asian-Nation

Miscellaneous

All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

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.

Blog powered by WordPress


Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

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.

March 4, 2013

Written by C.N.

New Books: Race, Immigration, Integration, and History

The following new books look at the intersections and connections between race, ethnicity, immigration, and community and how different groups of color/immigrants negotiated the political, economic, and cultural landscape of U.S. society through the years, the impacts they’ve had on their new surroundings, and vice versa. As always, a book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

Mexican Americans Across Generations: Immigrant Families, Racial Realities, by Jessica M. Vasquez (New York University Press)

'Mexican Americans Across Generations' by Vazquez

While newly arrived immigrants are often the focus of public concern and debate, many Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans have resided in the United States for generations. Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, and their racial identities change with each generation. While the attainment of education and middle class occupations signals a decline in cultural attachment for some, socioeconomic mobility is not a cultural death-knell, as others are highly ethnically identified. There are a variety of ways that middle class Mexican Americans relate to their ethnic heritage, and racialization despite assimilation among a segment of the second and third generations reveals the continuing role of race even among the U.S.-born.

Mexican Americans Across Generations investigates racial identity and assimilation in three-generation Mexican American families living in California. Through rich interviews with three generations of middle class Mexican American families, Vasquez focuses on the family as a key site for racial and gender identity formation, knowledge transmission, and incorporation processes, exploring how the racial identities of Mexican Americans both change and persist generationally in families. She illustrates how gender, physical appearance, parental teaching, historical era and discrimination influence Mexican Americans’ racial identity and incorporation patterns, ultimately arguing that neither racial identity nor assimilation are straightforward progressions but, instead, develop unevenly and are influenced by family, society, and historical social movements.

News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media, by Juan González and Joseph Torres (Verso)

'News for All the People' by Gonzalez and Torres

From the earliest colonial newspapers to the Internet age, America’s racial divisions have played a central role in the creation of the country’s media system, just as the media has contributed to—and every so often, combated—racial oppression. News for All the People reveals how racial segregation distorted the information Americans received from the mainstream media. It unearths numerous examples of how publishers and broadcasters actually fomented racial violence and discrimination through their coverage. And it chronicles the influence federal media policies exerted in such conflicts. It depicts the struggle of Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American journalists who fought to create a vibrant yet little-known alternative, democratic press, and then, beginning in the 1970s, forced open the doors of the major media companies.

The writing is fast-paced, story-driven, and replete with memorable portraits of individual journalists and media executives, both famous and obscure, heroes and villains. It weaves back and forth between the corporate and government leaders who built our segregated media system—such as Herbert Hoover, whose Federal Radio Commission eagerly awarded a license to a notorious Ku Klux Klan organization in the nation’s capital—and those who rebelled against that system, like Pittsburgh Courier publisher Robert L. Vann, who led a remarkable national campaign to get the black-face comedy Amos ‘n’ Andy off the air.

Based on years of original archival research and up-to-the-minute reporting and written by two veteran journalists and leading advocates for a more inclusive and democratic media system, News for All the People should become the standard history of American media.

Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America, by Vivek Bald (Harvard University Press)

'Bengali Harlem' by Vivek Bald

In the final years of the nineteenth century, small groups of Muslim peddlers arrived at Ellis Island every summer, bags heavy with embroidered silks from their home villages in Bengal. The American demand for “Oriental goods” took these migrants on a curious path, from New Jersey’s beach boardwalks into the heart of the segregated South. Two decades later, hundreds of Indian Muslim seamen began jumping ship in New York and Baltimore, escaping the engine rooms of British steamers to find less brutal work onshore. As factory owners sought their labor and anti-Asian immigration laws closed in around them, these men built clandestine networks that stretched from the northeastern waterfront across the industrial Midwest.

The stories of these early working-class migrants vividly contrast with our typical understanding of immigration. Vivek Bald’s meticulous reconstruction reveals a lost history of South Asian sojourning and life-making in the United States. At a time when Asian immigrants were vilified and criminalized, Bengali Muslims quietly became part of some of America’s most iconic neighborhoods of color, from Tremé in New Orleans to Detroit’s Black Bottom, from West Baltimore to Harlem. Many started families with Creole, Puerto Rican, and African American women.

As steel and auto workers in the Midwest, as traders in the South, and as halal hot dog vendors on 125th Street, these immigrants created lives as remarkable as they are unknown. Their stories of ingenuity and intermixture challenge assumptions about assimilation and reveal cross-racial affinities beneath the surface of early twentieth-century America.

Whiteness and Racialized Ethnic Groups in the United States: The Politics of Remembering, by Sherrow O. Pinder (Lexington Books)

'Whiteness and Racialized Ethnic Groups in the U.S.' by Pinder

Whiteness and Racialized Ethnic Groups in the United States, in order to account for the never ending discrimination toward racialized ethnic groups including First Nations, blacks, Chinese, and Mexicans, revisits the history of whiteness in the United States. It shows the difference between remembering a history of human indignities and recreating one that composes its own textual memory. More specifically, it reformulates how the historically reliant positionality of whiteness, as a part of the everyday practice and discourse of white supremacy, would later become institutionalized.

Even though “whiteness studies,” with the intention of exposing white privilege, has entered the realm of academic research and is moving toward antiracist forms of whiteness or, at least, toward antiracist approaches for a different form of whiteness, it is not equipped to relinquish the privilege that comes with normalized whiteness. Hence, in order to construct a post white identity, whiteness would have to be denormalized and freed of it of its presumptive hegemony.

Hmong and American: From Refugees to Citizens, edited by Vincent K. Her and Mary Louise Buley-Meissner (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

'Hmong and American' ed. by Her and Buley-Meissner

Farmers in Laos, U.S. allies during the Vietnam War, refugees in Thailand, citizens of the Western world—the stories of the Hmong who now live in America have been told in detail through books and articles and oral histories over the past several decades. Like any immigrant group, members of the first generation may yearn for the past as they watch their children and grandchildren find their way in the dominant culture of their new home.

For Hmong people born and educated in the United States, a definition of self often includes traditional practices and tight-knit family groups but also a distinctly Americanized point of view. How do Hmong Americans negotiate the expectations of these two very different cultures?

In an engaging series of essays featuring a range of writing styles, leading scholars, educators, artists, and community activists explore themes of history, culture, gender, class, family, and sexual orientation, weaving their own stories into depictions of a Hmong American community where people continue to develop complex identities that are collectively shared but deeply personal as they help to redefine the multicultural America of today.

Bending with the Wind: Memoir of a Cambodian Couple’s Escape to America, by Bounchoeurn Sao, Diyana D. Sao, and Karline F. Bird (McFarland)

'Bending With the Wind' by Sao, Sao, and Bird

Before the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia in April 1975, Sao Bounchoeurn and San Bounriem grew up in idyllic, though vastly different, circumstances. After a secondary education, Bounchoeurn entered the army, joined the Special Forces, and worked for the Americans. He became a slave laborer after the fall of Phnom Penh and eventually escaped to Thailand. In another part of Cambodia, Bounriem lived happily spoiled and uneducated.

Fleeing from the advancing Khmer Rouge, she arrived at the same refugee camp as Bounchoeurn, where they met, married, and immigrated to America. This riveting memoir chronicles the couple’s childhoods, their lives under the Khmer Rouge, their journeys to Thailand and later the United States, and their efforts to forge a new life. This remarkable tale offers an intimate look inside the terrors of the Khmer Rouge and an inspiring portrait of the immigrant experience in America.


March 22, 2012

Written by C.N.

New Books: Asian American Identity, Power, and Community

The following new books examine the intersections of Asian American racial/ethnic identity, power and institutional relationships with mainstream U.S. society, and how community dynamics affect their sense of belonging within this context. As always, a book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

Chinese Chicago: Race, Transnational Migration, and Community Since 1870, by Huping Ling (Stanford University Press)

'Chinese Chicago' by Huping Ling

Numerous studies have documented the transnational experiences and local activities of Chinese immigrants in California and New York in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Less is known about the vibrant Chinese American community that developed at the same time in Chicago. In this sweeping account, Huping Ling offers the first comprehensive history of Chinese in Chicago, beginning with the arrival of the pioneering Moy brothers in the 1870s and continuing to the present.

Ling focuses on how race, transnational migration, and community have defined Chinese in Chicago. Drawing upon archival documents in English and Chinese, she charts how Chinese made a place for themselves among the multiethnic neighborhoods of Chicago, cultivating friendships with local authorities and consciously avoiding racial conflicts.

Ling takes readers through the decades, exploring evolving family structures and relationships, the development of community organizations, and the operation of transnational businesses. She pays particular attention to the influential role of Chinese in Chicago’s academic and intellectual communities and to the complex and conflicting relationships among today’s more dispersed Chinese Americans in Chicago.

Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today, by Vijay Prashad (The New Press)

'Uncle Swami' by Vijay Prashad

Within hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center, misdirected assaults on Sikhs and other South Asians flared on streets across the nation, serving as harbingers of a more suspicious, less discerning, and increasingly fearful world view that would drastically change ideas of belonging and acceptance in America.

Weaving together distinct strands of recent South Asian immigration to the United States, Uncle Swami creates a richly textured analysis of the systems and sentiments behind shifting notions of cultural identity in a post 9/11 world. Vijay Prashad continues the conversation sparked by his celebrated work The Karma of Brown Folk and confronts the experience of migration across an expanse of generations and class divisions, from the birth of political activism among second generation immigrants to the meteoric rise of South Asian American politicians in Republican circles to the migrant workers who suffer in the name of American capitalism.

A powerful new indictment of American imperialism at the dawn of the twenty-first century, Uncle Swami restores a diasporic community to its full-fledged complexity, beyond model minorities and the specters of terrorism.

Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life, by Diane C. Fujino (University of Minnesota Press)

'Samurai Among Panthers' by Diane C. Fujino

An iconic figure of the Asian American movement, Richard Aoki (1938–2009) was also, as the most prominent non-Black member of the Black Panther Party, a key architect of Afro-Asian solidarity in the 1960s and ’70s. His life story exposes the personal side of political activism as it illuminates the history of ethnic nationalism and radical internationalism in America.

A reflection of this interconnection, Samurai among Panthers weaves together two narratives: Aoki’s dramatic first-person chronicle and an interpretive history by a leading scholar of the Asian American movement, Diane C. Fujino. Aoki’s candid account of himself takes us from his early years in Japanese American internment camps to his political education on the streets of Oakland, to his emergence in the Black Panther Party.

As his story unfolds, we see how his parents’ separation inside the camps and his father’s illegal activities shaped the development of Aoki’s politics. Fujino situates his life within the context of twentieth-century history—World War II, the Cold War, and the protests of the 1960s. She demonstrates how activism is both an accidental and an intentional endeavor and how a militant activist practice can also promote participatory democracy and social service.

The result of these parallel voices and analysis in Samurai among Panthers is a complex—and sometimes contradictory—portrait of a singularly extraordinary activist and an expansion and deepening of our understanding of the history he lived.

Chinese Mexicans: Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland, 1910-1960, by Julia Maria Schiavone Camacho (University of North Carolina Press)

'Chinese Mexicans' by Julia Maria Schiavone Camacho

At the turn of the twentieth century, a wave of Chinese men made their way to the northern Mexican border state of Sonora to work and live. The ties–and families–these Mexicans and Chinese created led to the formation of a new cultural identity: Chinese Mexican. During the tumult of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, however, anti-Chinese sentiment ultimately led to mass expulsion of these people.

Julia Maria Schiavone Camacho follows the community through the mid-twentieth century, across borders and oceans, to show how they fought for their place as Mexicans, both in Mexico and abroad. Tracing transnational geography, Schiavone Camacho explores how these men and women developed a strong sense of Mexican national identity while living abroad—in the United States, briefly, and then in southeast Asia where they created a hybrid community and taught their children about the Mexican homeland.

Schiavone Camacho also addresses how Mexican women challenged their legal status after being stripped of Mexican citizenship because they married Chinese men. After repatriation in the 1930s-1960s, Chinese Mexican men and women, who had left Mexico with strong regional identities, now claimed national cultural belonging and Mexican identity in ways they had not before.

Plague, Fear, and Politics in San Francisco’s Chinatown, by Guenter B. Risse (Johns Hopkins University Press)

'Plague, Fear, and Politics' by Guenter B. Risse

When health officials in San Francisco discovered bubonic plague in their city’s Chinatown in 1900, they responded with intrusive, controlling, and arbitrary measures that touched off a sociocultural conflict still relevant today. Guenter B. Risse’s history of an epidemic is the first to incorporate the voices of those living in Chinatown at the time, including the desperately ill Wong Chut King, believed to be the first person infected.

Lasting until 1904, the plague in San Francisco’s Chinatown reignited racial prejudices, renewed efforts to remove the Chinese from their district, and created new tensions among local, state, and federal public health officials quarreling over the presence of the deadly disease. Risse’s rich, nuanced narrative of the event draws from a variety of sources, including Chinese-language reports and accounts. He addresses the ecology of Chinatown, the approaches taken by Chinese and Western medical practitioners, and the effects of quarantine plans on Chinatown and its residents.

Risse explains how plague threatened California’s agricultural economy and San Francisco’s leading commercial role with Asia, discusses why it brought on a wave of fear mongering that drove perceptions and intervention efforts, and describes how Chinese residents organized and successfully opposed government quarantines and evacuation plans in federal court. By probing public health interventions in the setting of one of the most visible ethnic communities in United States history, Plague, Fear, and Politics in San Francisco’s Chinatown offers insight into the clash of Eastern and Western cultures in a time of medical emergency.

The House on Lemon Street: Japanese Pioneers and the American Dream, by Mark Rawitsch (University Press of Colorado)

'The House on Lemon Street' Mark Rawitch

In 1915, Jukichi and Ken Harada purchased a house on Lemon Street in Riverside, California. Close to their restaurant, church, and children’s school, the house should have been a safe and healthy family home. Before the purchase, white neighbors objected because of the Haradas’ Japanese ancestry, and the California Alien Land Law denied them real-estate ownership because they were not citizens. To bypass the law Mr. Harada bought the house in the names of his three youngest children, who were American-born citizens. Neighbors protested again, and the first Japanese American court test of the California Alien Land Law of 1913—The People of the State of California v. Jukichi Harada—was the result.

Bringing this little-known story to light, The House on Lemon Street details the Haradas’ decision to fight for the American dream. Chronicling their experiences from their immigration to the United States through their legal battle over their home, their incarceration during World War II, and their lives after the war, this book tells the story of the family’s participation in the struggle for human and civil rights, social justice, property and legal rights, and fair treatment of immigrants in the United States.

The Harada family’s quest for acceptance illuminates the deep underpinnings of anti-Asian animus, which set the stage for Executive Order 9066, and recognizes fundamental elements of our nation’s anti-immigrant history that continue to shape the American story. It will be worthwhile for anyone interested in the Japanese American experience in the twentieth century, immigration history, public history, and law.

Vanishing Filipino Americans: The Bridge Generation, by Peter Jamero (University Press of America)

'Vanishing Filipino Americans' by Peter Jamero

Documentation of Filipino American history is largely limited to the Manong Generation that immigrated to the United States during the early 1900s. Their second-generation children — the Bridge Generation — are now in their sixties, seventies, and eighties; however, the literature is silent regarding their life in America.

Vanishing Filipino Americans explores the Bridge Generation’s growing up years; their maturation as participants in Filipino youth clubs; their development of a unique subculture; their civic participation; and their triumphs and struggles in America’s workforce. Jamero begins the process of documenting the experiences and contributions of these second-generation Filipino Americans, addressing a significant void in the history of Filipinos in America.

Asian American Racial Realities in Black and White, by Bruce Calvin Hoskins (Lynne Rienner Publishers)

'Asian American Racial Realities' by Bruce Calvin Hoskins

What does it mean for an Asian American to be part white or part black? Bruce Hoskins probes the experience of biracial Asian Americans, revealing the ways that our discourse about multiracial identities too often reinforces racial hierarchies.

Hoskins explores the everyday lives of people of Asian/white and Asian/black heritage to uncover the role of our society s white-black continuum in shaping racial identity. Mixing intimate personal stories with cutting-edge theoretical analysis, he directly confronts the notion that multiracial identity provides an easy solution for our society s racial stratification.


November 21, 2011

Written by C.N.

Recent Trends in Asian American Interracial Marriage Patterns

One of the most popular and controversial articles on my Asian-Nation.org site is the one on Interracial Dating and Marriage. This is a topic that has provoked much discussion and debate among Asian Americans through the years and continues to do so today. Within the larger range of opinions on interracial dating and marriage, many Asian Americans and non-Asians alike consider dating and marrying someone outside of your racial/ethnic group as a natural progression of Asian Americans becoming more integrated into the mainstream, while others see it as renouncing one’s Asian identity.

As the saying goes, you are entitled to your opinion, but not your facts. In that context, as a sociologist, I try to make an empirically-sound and objective contribution to this debate by presenting updated data and statistics from the 2010 U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS) on the racial/ethnic marriage patterns of Asian Americans for both men and women and the six largest Asian ethnic groups. The full tables are presented in my Interracial Dating and Marriage page, but below is a summary of recent trends and changes from 2006, the last time I updated these statistics:

© Trinette Reed/Corbis
  • Consistently, rates of marriages involving Asian Americans and Whites have declined. Specifically, among those marriages in which both spouses are U.S.-raised (either born in the U.S. or immigrated before age 13, and thereby socialized within the U.S. racial/ethnic landscape), for five of the six Asian American ethnic groups, the rates of having a White spouse for both men and women declined from 2006 to 2010. Among men/husbands, the largest decline involved Asian Indians and Koreans. For women/wives, the largest decline was for Filipinos and Koreans.
  • The only exceptions to this trend of declining rates of White-Asian marriages were for Asian Indian women/wives (whose rate slightly increased from 2006 to 2010) and for both Vietnamese men/husbands and women/wives. For Vietnamese men, their rates of having a White wife increased from 15.0% to 21.9% while for Vietnamese women, their rate for having a White husband jumped from 28.3% to 41.3%.
  • Strangely, the population sizes for U.S.-raised married Vietnamese American men and women declined from 2006 to 2010. For example, in 2006, there were about 40,500 and 45,200 U.S.-raised Vietnamese men and women respectively who were married. In 2010, those numbers declined to 26,795 and 34,998. Some possible explanations are that many who were married in 2006 got divorced, U.S.-raised Vietnamese men and women are delaying getting married, and/or many U.S.-raised Vietnamese have changed their ethnic identity to some other ethnic group, such as Chinese or Hmong.
  • In contrast to the declining rates of Asian-White marriages, the rates for Pan-Asian/Other Asian marriages have increased notably from 2006 to 2010 (having a spouse of a different Asian ethnicity). This increase was almost universal across all the six ethnic groups and for both genders (the only exception was for Filipino women). Among U.S.-raised men/husbands, Vietnamese Americans experienced the biggest increases in having a pan-Asian spouse — from 5.8% in 2006 to 13.7% in 2010 for men and from 7.8% to 12.2% for women/wives.

August 15, 2011

Written by C.N.

Academic Research: Articles on Race/Ethnicity & Immigration #4

The following is a list of recent academic journal articles and doctoral dissertations from scholars in the social sciences and humanities that focus on race/ethnicity and/or immigration, with a particular emphasis on Asian Americans. As you can see, the diversity of research topics is a direct reflection of the dynamic and multidimensional nature of people’s lives, experiences, and issues related to race/ethnicity and immigration.

The academic journal articles are generally available in the libraries of most colleges and universities and/or through online research databases. The dissertation 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: disspub@umi.com. As always, works included in this list are for informational purposes only and do not imply an endorsement of their contents.

Yamashiro, Jane H. 2011. “Racialized National Identity Construction in the Ancestral Homeland: Japanese American Migrants in Japan.” Ethnic and Racial Studies. 34:9:1502-1521

  • Abstract: This article examines Japanese Americans in Japan to illuminate how ‘Japanese American’ – an ethnic minority identity in the US – is reconstructed in Japan as a racialized national identity. Based on fifty interviews with American citizens of Japanese ancestry conducted between 2004 and 2007, I demonstrate how interactions with Japanese in Japan shape Japanese Americans’ racial and national understandings of themselves.

    After laying out a theoretical framework for understanding the shifting intersection of race, ethnicity, and nationality, I explore the interactive process of racial categorization and ethnic identity assertion for Japanese American transnationals in Japan. This process leads to what I call racialized national identities – the intersection of racial and national identities in an international context – and suggests that US racial minority identities are constructed not only within the US, but abroad as well.

© Lisa Zador and Images.com/Corbis

Smith, Sandra Susan and Jennifer Anne Meri Jones. 2011. “Intraracial Harassment on Campus: Explaining Between- and Within-Group Differences.” Ethnic and Racial Studies. 34:9:1567-1593.

  • Abstract: Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF), we examine both between- and within-group differences in the odds of feeling intraracially harassed. Specifically, we investigate the effects of colleges’ and universities’ racial composition as well as the nature of students’ associations with non-group members, including involvement in racially homogeneous campus organizations, ethnoracial diversity of friendship networks, and interracial dating.

    Our findings suggest that although college racial composition appears to have little effect on experiencing intraracial harassment, the nature of students’ involvement with other-race students matters a great deal. For all groups, interracial dating increased odds of harassment. Among black and white students, more diverse friendship networks did as well. And among Asian and Latino students, involvement in any racially homogeneous campus organization was associated with increases in reports of intraracial harassment. Thus, we propose a baseline theoretical model of intraracial harassment that highlights the nature of students’ associations with outgroups.

Sakamoto, Arthur, Isao Takei & Hyeyoung Woo. 2011. “Socioeconomic Differentials among Single-Race and Multi-Race Japanese Americans.” Ethnic and Racial Studies. 34:9:445-1465.

  • Abstract: Using data from the 2000 US Census, this study investigates various groups of single-race and multi-race Japanese Americans in terms of their schooling and wages. The results indicate that all categories of Japanese Americans tend to have higher schooling than whites. Single-race Japanese Americans tend to have higher schooling than multi-race Japanese Americans, and 1.5-generation Japanese Americans tend to have higher schooling than native-born Japanese Americans.

    With the exception of foreign-educated, immigrant Japanese Americans, most of the wage differentials are explained by schooling and a few other demographic characteristics. These results are rather inconsistent with traditional assimilation theory which posits rising socioeconomic attainments with increasing acculturation. Instead, the findings suggest a reverse pattern by which the groups that are more closely related to Japan tend to have higher levels of educational attainment which then become translated into higher wages.

Khattab, Nabil, Ron Johnston, Tariq Modood, and Ibrahim Sirkeci. 2011. “Economic Activity in the South-Asian Population in Britain: The Impact of Ethnicity, Religion, and Class.” Ethnic and Racial Studies. 34:9:1466-1481.

  • Abstract: This paper expands the existing literature on ethnicity and economic activity in Britain by studying the impact of religion and class. It argues that while the class location of the different South-Asian groups is important in determining their labour market outcomes, it does not operate independently from ethnicity; rather it is highly influenced by ethnicity in the process of determining the labour market participation of these groups.

    We use data obtained from the 2001 UK Census on Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi men and women aged between twenty and twenty nine. Our findings confirm that class structure of the South-Asian groups is highly ethnicized, in that the ethno-religious background and class are interwoven to the extent that the separation between them is not easy, if not impossible.

Massey, Douglas and and Monica Espinoza Higginsa. 2011. “The Effect of Immigration on Religious Belief and Practice: A Theologizing or Alienating Experience?” Social Science Research. 40:5:1371-1389.

  • Abstract: Using data from the New Immigrant Survey, we examine the religious beliefs and practices of new legal immigrants to the United States. We find that Christian immigrants are more Catholic, more Orthodox, and less Protestant than American Christians, and that those immigrants who are Protestant are more likely to be evangelical. In addition to being more Catholic and more Orthodox than American Christians, the new immigrants are also paradoxically less Christian, with a fifth reporting some other faith.

    Detailed analysis of reported church attendance at places of origin and in the United States suggest that immigration is a disruptive event that alienates immigrants from religious practice rather than “theologizing” them. In addition, our models clearly show that people who join congregations in the United States are highly selected and unrepresentative of the broader population of immigrants in any faith. In general, congregational members were more observant both before and after emigration, were more educated, had more cumulative experience in the United States, and were more likely to have children present in the household and be homeowners and therefore yield biased representations of all adherents to any faith. The degree of selectivity and hence bias also varies markedly both by religion and nationality.

Jasso, Guillermina. 2011. “Migration and stratification.” Social Science Research. 40:5:1292-1336.

  • Abstract: Migration and stratification are increasingly intertwined. One day soon it will be impossible to understand one without the other. Both focus on life chances. Stratification is about differential life chances – who gets what and why – and migration is about improving life chances – getting more of the good things of life.

    To examine the interconnections of migration and stratification, we address a mix of old and new questions, carrying out analyses newly enabled by a unique new data set on recent legal immigrants to the United States (the New Immigrant Survey). We look at immigrant processing and lost documents, depression due to the visa process, presentation of self, the race-ethnic composition of an immigrant cohort (made possible by the data for the first time since 1961), black immigration from Africa and the Americas, skin color diversity among couples formed by US citizen sponsors and immigrant spouses, and English fluency among children age 8–12 and their immigrant parents.

    We find, inter alia, that children of previously illegal parents are especially more likely to be fluent in English, that native-born US citizen women tend to marry darker, that immigrant applicants who go through the visa process while already in the United States are more likely to have their documents lost and to suffer visa depression, and that immigration, by introducing accomplished black immigrants from Africa (notably via the visa lottery), threatens to overturn racial and skin color associations with skill. Our analyses show the mutual embeddedness of migration and stratification in the unfolding of the immigrants’ and their children’s life chances and the impacts on the stratification structure of the United States.

Hersch, Joni. 2011. “The Persistence of Skin Color Discrimination for Immigrants. Social Science Research. 40:5:1337-1349.

  • Abstract: Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination in employment on the basis of color is prohibited, and color is a protected basis independent from race. Using data from the spouses of the main respondents to the New Immigrant Survey 2003, this paper shows that immigrants with the lightest skin color earn on average 16–23% more than comparable immigrants with the darkest skin color.

    These estimates control for years of legal permanent residence in the US, education, English language proficiency, occupation in source country, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, race, country of birth, as well as for extensive current labor market characteristics that may be themselves influenced by discrimination. Furthermore, the skin color penalty does not diminish over time. These results are consistent with persistent skin color discrimination affecting legal immigrants to the United States.

Akresh, Ilana Redstone. 2011. “Wealth Accumulation among U.S. Immigrants: A Study of Assimilation and Differentials.” Social Science Research. 40:5:1390-1401.

  • Abstract: Data from the New Immigrant Survey are used to study wealth differentials among U.S. legal permanent residents. This study is unique in its ability to account for wealth held in the U.S. and that held abroad and yields several key findings. First, relative to immigrants from Western Europe, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (who have median wealth similar to native born non-Hispanic whites), other immigrant groups have lower levels of total wealth even after accounting for permanent income and life course characteristics.

    Second, time in the U.S. is positively associated with the wealth of married immigrants, yet this relationship is not statistically significant for single immigrants. Third, differences in the means of measured characteristics between Western European immigrants and those from most other origin regions account for more than 75 percent of observed wealth disparities. However, for immigrants from Asia and from the Indian subcontinent, much of the wealth differential remains unexplained by these factors.

Lin, Ken-Hou. 2011. “Do Less-Skilled Immigrants Work More? Examining the Work Time of Mexican Immigrant Men in the United States.” Social Science Research. 40:5:1402-1418.

  • Abstract: Using data from the US Current Population Surveys 2006–2008, I examine the weekly work hours of Mexican immigrants. Mexican immigrant workers on average work 2–4 h less than non-Hispanic whites per week, which contradicts the popular portrait of long immigrant work hours. Four mechanisms to explain this gap are proposed and examined.

    Results show that the work time disparity between non-Hispanic white and Mexican immigrant workers is explained by differences in human capital, ethnic concentration in the labor market, and selection process into employment. English proficiency has limited effect on work time after location in labor market is specified, while the effect of citizenship status remains robust.


August 3, 2011

Written by C.N.

Academic Research: Articles on Race/Ethnicity & Immigration #3

The following is a list of recent academic journal articles and doctoral dissertations from scholars in the social sciences and humanities that focus on race/ethnicity and/or immigration, with a particular emphasis on Asian Americans. As you can see, the diversity of research topics is a direct reflection of the dynamic and multidimensional nature of people’s lives, experiences, and issues related to race/ethnicity and immigration.

The academic journal articles are generally available in the libraries of most colleges and universities and/or through online research databases. The dissertation 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: disspub@umi.com. As always, works included in this list are for informational purposes only and do not imply an endorsement of their contents.

Yasuike, Akiko. 2011. “Economic Opportunities and the Division of Labor among Japanese Immigrant Couples in Southern California.” Sociological Inquiry 81:353-376.

  • Abstract: Based on 36 in-depth interviews conducted with 18 Japanese couples who live in Southern California, this study examines the impact of differential economic opportunities on the division of labor among Japanese immigrant couples. Three main factors facilitate Japanese professional and businessmen’s mobility to and settlement in Southern California: (1) the gender-based stratification of the workplace in Japan; (2) U.S. immigration policies that favor foreign nationals with strong corporate ties and business experience; and (3) the strong presence of Japanese corporations in Southern California.

    Whereas these conditions enable men to maintain their earning power, they do not benefit women in employment opportunities. The difference in economic opportunities encourages Japanese couples to preserve a breadwinner and homemaker division of labor, and women continue to do a bulk of housework and childcare even when women reenter the labor force later in their lives.

© Lisa Zador and Images.com/Corbis

Xiea, Yu, and Emily Greenman. 2011. “The Social Context of Assimilation: Testing Implications of Segmented Assimilation Theory.” Social Science Research 40:965-984.

  • Abstract: Segmented assimilation theory has been a popular explanation for the diverse experiences of assimilation among new waves of immigrants and their children. While the theory has been interpreted in many different ways, we emphasize its implications for the important role of social context: both processes and consequences of assimilation should depend on the local social context in which immigrants are embedded. We derive empirically falsifiable hypotheses about the interaction effects between social context and assimilation on immigrant children’s well-being.

    We then test the hypotheses using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Our empirical analyses yield two main findings. First, for immigrant adolescents living in non-poverty neighborhoods, we find assimilation to be positively associated with educational achievement and psychological well-being but also positively associated with at-risk behavior. Second, there is little empirical evidence supporting our hypotheses derived from segmented assimilation theory. We interpret these results to mean that future research would be more fruitful focusing on differential processes of assimilation rather than differential consequences of assimilation.

Thomas, Kevin J. A. 2011. “What Explains the Increasing Trend in African Emigration to the U.S.?” International Migration Review 45:3-28.

  • Abstract: In this study, data from the U.S. State Department on visas issued abroad and information from other sources are used to examine trends in African emigration to the U.S. The results suggest that, on average, moderate increases in African Gross Domestic Product between 1992 and 2007 had a buffering effect on emigration trends. Yet, emigration to the U.S. increased much faster from the poorest than wealthiest countries in Africa. Contrary to expectations, larger emigration increases were found in Africa’s non-English than English-speaking countries.

    Despite the increasing overall trend, however, critical differences were observed in the impacts of specific types of flows. For example, overall trends were driven by increases in Diversity Visa migration, refugee movements, and the migration of immediate relatives. However, significant declines were observed in employment-related emigration from Africa to the U.S. The results further suggest that impact of trends in African fertility, urbanization, and phone use are circumscribed to specific contexts and types of migration flows. The findings, therefore, provide an empirical basis for concluding that the dynamics of African migration to the U.S. are becoming increasingly more complex.

Taylor, Marylee C., and Peter J. Mateyka. 2011. “Commuity Influences on White Racial Attitudes: What Matters and Why?” Sociological Quarterly 52:220-243.

  • Abstract: Tracing the roots of racial attitudes in historical events and individual biographies has been a long-standing goal of race relations scholars. Recent years have seen a new development in racial attitude research: Local community context has entered the spotlight as a potential influence on racial views. The race composition of the locality has been the most common focus; evidence from earlier decades suggests that white Americans are more likely to hold anti-black attitudes if they live in areas where the African-American population is relatively large.

    However, an influential 2000 article argued that the socioeconomic composition of the white community is a more powerful influence on white attitudes: In low-socioeconomic status (SES) locales, “stress-inducing” deprivations and hardships in whites’ own lives purportedly lead them to disparage blacks. The study reported here reassesses this “scapegoating” claim, using data from the 1998 to 2002 General Social Surveys linked to 2000 census information about communities. Across many dimensions of racial attitudes, there is pronounced influence of both local racial proportions and college completion rates among white residents. However, the economic dimension of SES exerts negligible influence on white racial attitudes, suggesting that local processes other than scapegoating must be at work.

Son, Deborah, and J. Nicole Shelton. 2011. “Stigma Consciousness Among Asian Americans: Impact of Positive Stereotypes in Interracial Roommate Relationships.” Asian American Journal of Psychology 2:51-60.

  • Abstract: The present research examined the intrapersonal consequences that Asian Americans experience as a result of their concerns about appearing highly intelligent, a positive stereotype associated with their racial group. A daily diary study of Asian-American college students (N = 47) revealed that higher levels of stigma consciousness were associated with greater anxiety, contact avoidance, perceived need to change to fit in with a roommate, and concerns about being viewed as intelligent for Asian Americans living with a European-American (vs. racial minority) roommate.

    Further, among Asian Americans with a European-American roommate, concerns about appearing intelligent partially mediated the relationships between stigma consciousness and the outcomes of anxiety and perceived need to change to fit in. In sum, these findings demonstrate that positive stereotypes about the group—not just negative stereotypes—may lead to undesirable intrapersonal outcomes.

Ruzek, Nicole A., Dao Q. Nguyen, and David C. Herzog. 2011. “Acculturation, Enculturation, Psychological Distress and Help-Seeking Preferences among Asian American College Students.” Asian American Journal of Psychology July 4, 2001.

  • Abstract: We examined the relationship between Asian American college students’ levels of acculturation, enculturation, and psychological distress. We also explored the methods Asian American college students prefer when seeking help for psychological concerns. The sample included 601 Asian American students from a large public university in Southern California. Respondents completed an online questionnaire, which included instruments assessing acculturation and enculturation levels as well as psychological distress and help-seeking preferences.

    Regression analyses indicated that when Asian American students hold a greater degree of European values they are less likely to experience psychological distress. A repeated-measures ANOVA found that Asian American students prefer more covert approaches to mental health treatment. These findings both compliment and contradict previous studies of acculturation, enculturation, psychological distress and help-seeking among the Asian American college student population.

Hunt, Geoffrey, Molly Moloney, and Kristin Evans. 2011. “‘How Asian Am I?’ Asian American Youth Cultures, Drug Use, and Ethnic Identity Construction.” Youth & Society 43:274-304.

  • Abstract: This article analyzes the construction of ethnic identity in the narratives of 100 young Asian Americans in a dance club/rave scene. Authors examine how illicit drug use and other consuming practices shape their understanding of Asian American identities, finding three distinct patterns. The first presents a disjuncture between Asian American ethnicity and drug use, seeing their own consumption as exceptional. The second argues their drug consumption is a natural outgrowth of their Asian American identity, allowing them to navigate the liminal space they occupy in American society.

    The final group presents Asian American drug use as normalized and constructs identity through taste and lifestyle boundary markers within social contexts of the dance scenes. These three narratives share a sense of ethnicity as dynamic, provisional, and constructed, allowing one to go beyond the static, essentialist models of ethnic identity that underlie much previous research on ethnicity, immigration, and substance use.

Howard, Tiffiany O. 2011. “The Perceptions of Self and Others: Examining the Effect Identity Adoption has on Immigrant Attitudes toward Affirmative Action Policies in the United States.” Immigrants & Minorities 29:86-109.

  • Abstract: While there exist several studies devoted to evaluating the political attitudes of US citizens, very little has been done to distinguish between the political attitudes of immigrants and citizens of the same racial or ethnic group. Using data from the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality, 1992-94, this study evaluates the role identity adoption plays in highlighting the distinctions which exist between the political attitudes of immigrants and those of US citizens from the same racial/ethnic group.

    The results reveal that despite pronounced cultural distinctions between immigrants and US citizens, in many cases race and ethnicity are important unifiers on opinions regarding public policy issues, specifically that of affirmative action. This is an important finding because it suggests that there is some homogeneity of attitudes and public


July 14, 2011

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: July

If you’re the nostalgic type, you might be interested to read the following posts from July of years past:


April 12, 2011

Written by C.N.

New Books: Assimilation and Contemporary Culture

Below are a few more recently-released books that highlight Asian Americans, immigration, and/or other racial/ethnic groups along a variety of historical and contemporary sociological issues. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

These new titles explore various dimensions of cultural assimilation among Asian Americans and illustrate different ways in which Asian Americans are integrated into the rest of U.S. society and its institutions.

The New Chinese America: Class, Economy, and Social Hierarchy, by Xiaojian Zhao (Rutgers University Press)

'The New Chinese America' by Xiaojian Zhao

The 1965 Immigration Act altered the lives and outlook of Chinese Americans in fundamental ways. The New Chinese America explores the historical, economic, and social foundations of the Chinese American community, in order to reveal the emergence of a new social hierarchy after 1965. In this detailed and comprehensive study of contemporary Chinese America, Xiaojian Zhao uses class analysis to illuminate the difficulties of everyday survival for poor and undocumented immigrants and analyzes the process through which social mobility occurs.

Through ethnic ties, Chinese Americans have built an economy of their own in which entrepreneurs can maintain a competitive edge given their access to low-cost labor; workers who are shut out of the mainstream job market can find work and make a living; and consumers can enjoy high quality services at a great bargain. While the growth of the ethnic economy enhances ethnic bonds by increasing mutual dependencies among different groups of Chinese Americans, it also determines the limits of possibility for various individuals depending on their socioeconomic and immigration status.

My Mom is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom, by Teresa Wu and Serena Wu (Perigree Trade Publishing)

'My Mom is a Fob'

Fob (noun)-derived from the acronym F.O.B. (“Fresh off the Boat”). Does your mom still make Peking duck instead of turkey on Thanksgiving, own a giant cleaver, or take twenty-four more napkins than she needs at Chipotle? Your mom may be a fob.

Through their hit blog “My Mom Is a Fob,” Teresa and Serena Wu have seized ownership of this formerly derogatory term, applying it instead to the heartfelt, hilarious, and thoroughly unique ways that Asian mothers adapt to American culture, from the perspective of those who love them most: their children. Through texts, emails, phone calls, and more, My Mom Is a Fob showcases the stories of a community of Asian-American kids who know exactly what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that amazing, unconditional, and sometimes misspelled love.

It’s about those Asian mothers who refuse to get in the car without their sun-protective arm sheaths, the ones who send us passive-aggressive text messages “from the dog” in hopes that we’ll call home, and email us unsolicited advice about everything from homosexuality to constipation. In these pages you’ll find solace in the fact that thousands of moms out there are as painfully nosy, unintentionally hilarious, and endearingly fobby as yours is.

The Beautiful Generation: Asian Americans and the Cultural Economy of Fashion, by Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu (Duke University Press)

'The Beautiful Generation' by Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu

Since the 1990s, young Asian Americans including Doo-Ri Chung, Derek Lam, Thakoon Panichgul, Alexander Wang, and Jason Wu have emerged as leading fashion designers. They have won prestigious awards, been chosen to head major clothing labels, and had their designs featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other fashion magazines. At the same time that these designers were rising to prominence, the fashion world was embracing Asian chic. During the 1990s, “Asian” shapes, fabrics, iconography, and colors filled couture runways and mass-market clothing racks.

In The Beautiful Generation, Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu explores the role of Asian American designers in New York’s fashion industry, paying particular attention to how they relate to the garment workers who produce their goods and to Asianness as a fashionable commodity. She draws on conversations with design students, fashion curators, and fashion publicists; interviews with nearly thirty Asian American designers who have their own labels; and time spent with those designers in their shops and studios, on their factory visits, and at their fashion shows. The Beautiful Generation links the rise of Asian American designers to historical patterns of immigration, racial formation, and globalized labor, and to familial and family-like connections between designers and garment workers.

Race for Citizenship: Black Orientalism and Asian Uplift from Pre-Emancipation to Neoliberal America, by Helen Jun (New York University Press)

'Race for Citizenship' by Helen Jun

Helen Heran Jun explores how the history of U.S. citizenship has positioned Asian Americans and African Americans in interlocking socio-political relationships since the mid nineteenth century. Rejecting the conventional emphasis on ‘inter-racial prejudice,’ Jun demonstrates how a politics of inclusion has constituted a racial Other within Asian American and African American discourses of national identity.

Race for Citizenship examines three salient moments when African American and Asian American citizenship become acutely visible as related crises: the ‘Negro Problem’ and the ‘Yellow Question’ in the mid- to late 19th century; World War II-era questions around race, loyalty, and national identity in the context of internment and Jim Crow segregation; and post-Civil Rights discourses of disenfranchisement and national belonging under globalization.

Taking up a range of cultural texts—the 19th century black press, the writings of black feminist Anna Julia Cooper, Asian American novels, African American and Asian American commercial film and documentary—Jun does not seek to document signs of cross-racial identification, but instead demonstrates how the logic of citizenship compels racialized subjects to produce developmental narratives of inclusion in the effort to achieve political, economic, and social incorporation. Race for Citizenship provides a new model of comparative race studies by situating contemporary questions of differential racial formations within a long genealogy of anti-racist discourse constrained by liberal notions of inclusion.

The American Dream in Vietnamese, by Nhi T. Lieu (University of Minnesota Press)

'The American Dream in Vietnamese' by Nhi T. Lieu

In her research on popular culture of the Vietnamese diaspora, Nhi T. Lieu explores how people displaced by war reconstruct cultural identity in the aftermath of migration. Embracing American democratic ideals and consumer capitalism prior to arriving in the United States, postwar Vietnamese refugees endeavored to assimilate and live the American Dream. In The American Dream in Vietnamese, she claims that nowhere are these fantasies played out more vividly than in the Vietnamese American entertainment industry.

Lieu examines how live music variety shows and videos, beauty pageants, and Web sites created by and for Vietnamese Americans contributed to the shaping of their cultural identity. She shows how popular culture forms repositories for conflicting expectations of assimilation, cultural preservation, and invention, alongside gendered and classed dimensions of ethnic and diasporic identity.

The American Dream in Vietnamese demonstrates how the circulation of images manufactured by both Americans and Vietnamese immigrants serves to produce these immigrants’ paradoxical desires. Within these desires and their representations, Lieu finds the dramatization of the community’s struggle to define itself against the legacy of the refugee label, a classification that continues to pathologize their experiences in American society.


February 14, 2011

Written by C.N.

Best Immigration Documentaries: Part 3, Assimilation & Integration

This is the third of my three-part list of the best documentaries that focus on immigration and are great choices for showing in high school and college immigration classes. This third and final part will focus specifically on issues related to socioeconomic attainment, mobility, and assimilation — the individual-, community-, and institutional-level processes involved as immigrants (regardless of their legal status) become integrated into the rest of U.S. society.

Part 1 focused on the historical and global context of immigration and Part 2 looked at unauthorized immigration. The following list is organized by topic and corresponds to the chronological order in which I discuss each topic in my “Sociology of Immigration” course. For each topic, I highlight the documentary that I tend to show the most often, followed by other videos that are good choices for that topic as well.

Assimilation © Corbis

Socioeconomic Mobility and Settlement Patterns

What are the historical and contemporary patterns of educational, occupational, and income attainment on the part of immigrants and how do such patterns compare across waves of immigration, nationality/ethnic group, and in relation to U.S.-born racial/ethnic groups? Also, what are some recent developments regarding where immigrants settle, how they create their own communities and enclaves, and role of these ethnic communities in their overall assimilation process?

Assimilation and Ethnic Identity

In this section, I focus on the assimilation and integration process on the individual level. Specifically, I look at the different forms of forms of assimilation that immigrants undergo, the factors that affect their own personal racial/ethnic/cultural identity, and how community- and institutional factors influence whether immigrants experience upward or downward assimilation through time.

Language, Religious, and Political Incorporation

This section explores assimilation and integration specifically related to native language retention vs. English acquisition among immigrants, their religious patterns and the roles that religious organizations play in their lives, and their patterns of participating in the political process at various levels and in particular, the prospects of immigrants leveraging their growing population size into greater political power.

Emerging Issues and a Changing National Identity

In this final section of my “Sociology of Immigration” course, I reflect back on where immigrants to the U.S. have been — politically, economically, and culturally — and just as important, take a look at where immigration and immigration policy are headed as we move forward into the 21st century and in particular, as we become more culturally diverse, globalized, and transnational.


December 16, 2010

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: December

In case you’re the nostalgic type, here are some posts in this blog from December of years past:


October 27, 2010

Written by C.N.

New Books: Asian American Assimilation, Then and Now

As part of this blog’s mission of making academic research and data more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience and to practical, everyday social issues, I highlight new sociological books about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

Across our different ethnicities, occupations, generations, and experiences, one topic that continues to be a popular subject of discussion among Asian Americans is the process of assimilation. As these recently-released books help to illustrate how, to fully understand this concepts, we have to connect the past with the present, historical with contemporary examples.

Japanese War Brides in America: An Oral History, by Miki Ward Crawford, Katie Kaori Hayashi, and Shizuko Suenaga (Praeger Publishing)

Japanese War Brides in America, by Crawford, Hayashi, and Suenaga

Following the end of World War II, Congress passed the War Brides Act of 1945, which allowed foreign wives of U.S. military personnel to immigrate to the United States. However, with the ban of Asian immigration after World War II, the sudden influx of thousands of women created social tension while opening up one of the country’s largest cross-cultural integrations.

This book reveals the stories of nineteen Japanese war brides whose assimilation into American culture forever influenced future generations, depicting love, strength, and perseverance in the face of incredible odds. With an estimated 50,000 women who migrated from Japan to the U.S. during 1946-1965, they all hold a unique place in American history and have been called ambassadors to the U.S. For the first time in English these women share their triumphs, sorrows, successes, and identity in a time when their own future was tainted by social segregation.

This oral history focuses mainly on women’s lives during World War II and the occupation of Japan. It illuminates the cultural expectations, the situations brought about by the war, and effects of the occupation, and also includes quotes from various war brides regarding this time. Chapter interviews are set up in chronological fashion and laid out in the following format: introduction of the war bride, how she met her husband, her initial travels to America, and life thereafter. Where needed, explanations, translations, and background history with references are provided.

Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, by Erika Lee and Judy Yung (Oxford University Press)

Angel Island, by Lee and Yung

From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island immigration station in San Francisco served as the processing and detention center for over one million people from around the world. The majority of newcomers came from China and Japan, but there were also immigrants from India, the Philippines, Korea, Russia, Mexico, and over seventy other countries. The full history of these immigrants and their experiences on Angel Island is told for the first time in this landmark book, published to commemorate the immigration station’s 100th anniversary.

Based on extensive new research and oral histories, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America examines the great diversity of immigration through Angel Island: Chinese “paper sons,” Japanese picture brides, Korean refugee students, South Asian political activists, Russian and Jewish refugees, Mexican families, Filipino workers, and many others. Together, their stories offer a more complete and complicated history of immigration to America than we have ever known.

Like its counterpart on Ellis Island, the immigration station on Angel Island was one of the country’s main ports of entry for immigrants in the early twentieth century. But while Ellis Island was mainly a processing center for European immigrants, Angel Island was designed to detain and exclude immigrants from Asia. The immigrant experience on Angel Island-more than any other site-reveals how U.S. immigration policies and their hierarchical treatment of immigrants according to race, ethnicity, class, nationality, and gender played out in daily practices and decisions at the nation’s borders with real consequences on immigrant lives and on the country itself.

Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila: Family, Identity, & Culture: 1870-1925, by Richard T. Chu (Brill Publishing)

Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, by Richard T. Chu

Building on works in Chinese transnationalism and cultural anthropology, this book examines the everyday practices of Chinese merchant families in Manila from the 1860s to the 1930s. The result is a fascinating study of how families and individuals creatively negotiated their identities in ways that challenge our understanding of the genesis of ethnic identities in the Philippines.

Hmong America: Reconstructing Community in Diaspora, by Chia Youyee Vang (University of Illinois Press)

Hmong America, by Chia Youyee Vang

The first scholarly work to come from inside the Hmong community, Hmong America documents Chia Youyee Vang’s own migration from Laos to Minnesota at age nine and the transformations she has witnessed in Hmong communities throughout the migration and settlement processes. Vang depicts Hmong experiences in Asia and examines aspects of community building in America to reveal how new Hmong identities have been formed and how they have challenged popular assumptions about race and ethnicity in multicultural America.

With an approach that intermingles the archival research of a historian, the personal experiences of a refugee, and the participant-observer perspectives of a community insider, Vang constructs a nuanced and complex portrait of the more than 130,000 Hmong people who came to the United States as political refugees beginning in the mid-1970s. She offers critiques of previous representations of the Hmong community and provides the sociological underpinnings for a bold reassessment of Hmong history in the greater context of globalization.

This new understanding redefines concepts of Hmong homogeneity and characterizes ordinary Hmong migrants not as passive victims but as dynamic actors who have exercised much power over their political and social destinies. While Vang focuses on the Hmong community in the Twin Cities, she also has conducted research in numerous Hmong enclaves in the United States and abroad.

The Intimate University: Korean American Students and the Problems of Segregation, by Nancy Abelmann (Duke University Press)

The Intimate University, by Nancy Abelman

The majority of the nearly 28,000 undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign–including a large population of Korean American students–come from nearby metropolitan Chicago. Among the campus’s largest non-white ethnicities, Korean American students come to college hoping to realize the liberal ideals of the modern American university, in which individuals can exit their comfort zones to realize their full potential regardless of race, nation, or religion. However, these ideals are compromised by their experiences of racial segregation and stereotypes, including images of instrumental striving that set Asian Americans apart.

In The Intimate University, Nancy Abelmann explores the tensions between liberal ideals and the particularities of race, family, and community in the contemporary university. Drawing on ten years of ethnographic research with Korean American students at the University of Illinois and closely following multiple generations of a single extended Korean American family in the Chicago metropolitan area, Abelmann investigates the complexity of racial politics at the American university today.

Racially hyper-visible and invisible, Korean American students face particular challenges as they try to realize their college dreams against the subtle, day-to-day workings of race. They frequently encounter the accusation of racial self-segregation–a charge accentuated by the fact that many attend the same Evangelical Protestant church–even as they express the desire to distinguish themselves from their families and other Korean Americans. Abelmann concludes by examining the current state of the university, reflecting on how better to achieve the university’s liberal ideals despite its paradoxical celebration of diversity and relative silence on race.


January 21, 2010

Written by C.N.

New Books: Immigration

As part of this blog’s mission of making academic research and data more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience and to practical, everyday social issues, I highlight new sociological books about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its complete contents.

This is the first week of classes for many colleges and universities around the country, including here at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This semester I am teaching a new course: “The Sociology of Immigration” (in case you’re curious, you can download a PDF of the syllabus). It’s a topic that is central and directly relevant to many issues that I cover in this blog, and a course that I have always wanted to teach but haven’t had the opportunity to do so until now.

President Obama has also recently suggested that immigration reform is one of the next major policy issues that he and his administration want to address next (although he said this before the upset victory of Republican Scott Brown in MA). Presuming that he follows through on this promise, immigration is set to again move to the front burner of American discussion and controversy.

With these things in mind, I plan on writing a more detailed post about immigration reform soon but in the meantime, I would like to highlight some new books on different aspects of the immigration issue that I will be using as source material for my “Sociology of Immigration” course and that will hopefully provide some sociological data and analysis to help us tackle the question of immigration reform.

The first book, Reinventing the Melting Pot, is the textbook that I have assigned to my students in my “Sociology of Immigration” course.

Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means To Be American, edited by Tamar Jacoby (Basic Books Publishing)

Reinventing the Melting Pot, edited by Tamar Jacoby

In Reinventing the Melting Pot, twenty-one of the writers who have thought longest and hardest about immigration come together around a surprising consensus: yes, immigrant absorption still works-and given the number of newcomers arriving today, the nation’s future depends on it. But it need not be incompatible with ethnic identity-and we as a nation need to find new ways to talk about and encourage becoming American.

In the wake of 9/11 it couldn’t be more important to help these newcomers find a way to fit in. Running through these essays is a single common theme: Although ethnicity plays a more important role now than ever before, today’s newcomers can and will become Americans and enrich our national life-reinventing the melting pot and reminding us all what we have in common.

The Diversity Paradox: Immigration and the Color Line in Twenty-First Century America, by Jennifer Lee and Frank Bean (Russell Sage Foundation)

The Diversity Paradox, by Lee and Bean

African Americans grappled with Jim Crow segregation until it was legally overturned in the 1960s. In subsequent decades, the country witnessed a new wave of immigration from Asia and Latin America—forever changing the face of American society. In The Diversity Paradox, Jennifer Lee and Frank Bean take these two poles of American collective identity—the legacy of slavery and immigration—and ask if today’s immigrants are destined to become racialized minorities akin to African Americans or if their incorporation into U.S. society will more closely resemble that of their European predecessors.

The Diversity Paradox uses population-based analyses and in-depth interviews to examine patterns of intermarriage and multiracial identification among Asians, Latinos, and African Americans. Lee and Bean . . . show that Asians and Latinos with mixed ancestry are not constrained by strict racial categories. Racial status often shifts according to situation. Individuals can choose to identify along ethnic lines or as white, and their decisions are rarely questioned by outsiders or institutions. These groups also intermarry at higher rates, which is viewed as part of the process of becoming “American” and a form of upward social mobility.

African Americans, in contrast, intermarry at significantly lower rates than Asians and Latinos. Further, multiracial blacks often choose not to identify as such and are typically perceived as being black only—underscoring the stigma attached to being African American and the entrenchment of the “one-drop” rule. Asians and Latinos are successfully disengaging their national origins from the concept of race—like European immigrants before them.

The Diversity Paradox is an extensive and eloquent examination of how contemporary immigration and the country’s new diversity are redefining the boundaries of race. The book also lays bare the powerful reality that as the old black/white color line fades a new one may well be emerging—with many African Americans still on the other side.

Beyond a Border: The Causes and Consequences of Contemporary Immigration, by Peter Kivisto and Thomas Faist (Pine Forge Press)

Beyond a Border, by Kivisto and Faist

As the authors state in Chapter 1, “[T]he movement of people across national borders represents one of the most vivid dramas of social reality in the contemporary world.” This comparative text examines contemporary immigration across the globe, focusing on 20 major nations.

Noted scholars Peter Kivisto and Thomas Faist introduce students to important topics of inquiry at the heart of the field, including: (a) Movement: explores the theories of migration using a historical perspective of the modern world; (b) Settlement: provides clarity concerning the controversial matter of immigrant incorporation and refers to the varied ways immigrants come to be a part of a new society; and (c) Control: focuses on the politics of immigration and examines the role of states in shaping how people choose to migrate.

Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age, by Philip Kasinitz, Mary C. Waters, John H. Mollenkopf, and Jennifer Holdaway (Russell Sage Foundation)

Inheriting the City, by Kasinitz, Waters, Mollenkopf, and Holdaway

Immigrants and their children comprise nearly three-fifths of New York City’s population and even more of Miami and Los Angeles. But the United States is also a nation with entrenched racial divisions that are being complicated by the arrival of newcomers. While immigrant parents may often fear that their children will “disappear” into American mainstream society, leaving behind their ethnic ties, many experts fear that they won’t—evolving instead into a permanent unassimilated and underemployed underclass.

Inheriting the City confronts these fears with evidence, reporting the results of a major study examining the social, cultural, political, and economic lives of today’s second generation in metropolitan New York, and showing how they fare relative to their first-generation parents and native-stock counterparts. The authors studied the young adult offspring of West Indian, Chinese, Dominican, South American, and Russian Jewish immigrants and compared them to blacks, whites, and Puerto Ricans with native-born parents.

They find that today’s second generation is generally faring better than their parents, with Chinese and Russian Jewish young adults achieving the greatest education and economic advancement, beyond their first-generation parents and even beyond their native-white peers. Every second-generation group is doing at least marginally—and, in many cases, significantly—better than natives of the same racial group across several domains of life. Economically, each second-generation group earns as much or more than its native-born comparison group, especially African Americans and Puerto Ricans, who experience the most persistent disadvantage.

Inheriting the City shows the children of immigrants can often take advantage of policies and programs that were designed for native-born minorities in the wake of the civil rights era. Indeed, the ability to choose elements from both immigrant and native-born cultures has produced, the authors argue, a second-generation advantage that catalyzes both upward mobility and an evolution of mainstream American culture. . . . Adapting elements from their parents’ cultures as well as from their native-born peers, the children of immigrants are not only transforming the American city but also what it means to be American.


October 2, 2009

Written by C.N.

New Books: Achieving Racial Equality

As part of this blog’s mission of making academic research and data more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience and to practical, everyday social issues, I highlight new sociological books about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them.

As some of my readers have lamented, one of the drawbacks about looking at racial issues is that much of the research and writing focuses on the negatives — what’s wrong with the situation, who/which groups is/are hurt the most, how society is not just flawed but even responsible for the mess, etc. With that in mind, these new books look at the positives and successes — how we can and have moved forward toward more racial equality.

Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More Integrated America, by Richard Alba (Harvard University Press)

Blurring the Color Line by Richard Alba

Richard Alba argues that the social cleavages that separate Americans into distinct, unequal ethno-racial groups could narrow dramatically in the coming decades. During the mid-twentieth century, the dominant position of the United States in the postwar world economy led to a rapid expansion of education and labor opportunities. As a result of their newfound access to training and jobs, many ethnic and religious outsiders, among them Jews and Italians, finally gained full acceptance as members of the mainstream.

Alba proposes that this large-scale assimilation of white ethnics was a result of “non-zero-sum mobility,” which he defines as the social ascent of members of disadvantaged groups that can take place without affecting the life chances of those who are already members of the established majority.

Alba shows that non-zero-sum mobility could play out positively in the future as the baby-boom generation retires, opening up the higher rungs of the labor market. Because of the changing demography of the country, many fewer whites will be coming of age than will be retiring. Hence, the opportunity exists for members of other groups to move up.

However, Alba cautions, this demographic shift will only benefit disadvantaged American minorities if they are provided with access to education and training. In Blurring the Color Line, Alba explores a future in which socially mobile minorities could blur stark boundaries and gain much more control over the social expression of racial differences.

New Common Ground: A New America, A New World, by Amitai Etzioni (Potomac Books)

New Common Ground by Amitai Etzioni

Race, age, political affiliation, country of origin, native language—too often Americans define themselves, and are defined, by the differences that separate them. But if the 2008 presidential campaign has taught us anything, it is that we as a people want to look beyond these divisions to the values and interests that unite us.

New Common Ground embodies this zeitgeist, showing the ways that traditional boundaries among ethnic groups, political ideologies, and generations are blurring, and how to hasten the process. New Common Ground demonstrates that even though the deepest divide in America is said to be racial, the differences in viewpoints and values among races are declining, even in an age of increased intermarriage.

On immigration and other controversial matters, Etzioni argues for diversity within unity and the means to achieve that necessary end. New Common Ground is a provocative and insightful look into how we as Americans can reach consensus not just in spite of our diversity but also in ways that strengthen our commitment to the good of one and all as we seek to overcome the divisiveness that sometimes results from identity politics. The book closes by looking beyond our shores to the bridges that bring America closer to the rest of the world.

Chains of Babylon: The Rise of Asian America, by Daryl J. Maeda (University of Minnesota Press)

Chains of Babylon by Daryl J. Maeda

In Chains of Babylon, Daryl J. Maeda presents a cultural history of Asian American activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, showing how the movement created the category of “Asian American” to join Asians of many ethnicities in racial solidarity. Drawing on the Black Power and antiwar movements, Asian American radicals argued that all Asians in the United States should resist assimilation and band together to oppose racism within the country and imperialism abroad.

As revealed in Maeda’s in-depth work, the Asian American movement contended that people of all Asian ethnicities in the United States shared a common relationship to oppression and exploitation with each other and with other nonwhite peoples. In the early stages of the civil rights era, the possibility of assimilation was held out to Asian Americans under a model minority myth.

Maeda insists that it was only in the disruption of that myth for both African Americans and Asian Americans in the 1960s and 1970s that the full Asian American culture and movement he describes could emerge. Maeda challenges accounts of the post-1968 era as hopelessly divisive by examining how racial and cultural identity enabled Asian Americans to see eye-to-eye with and support other groups of color in their campaigns for social justice.

Asian American opposition to the war in Vietnam, unlike that of the broader antiwar movement, was predicated on understanding it as a racial, specifically anti-Asian genocide. Throughout he argues that cultural critiques of racism and imperialism, the twin “chains of Babylon” of the title, informed the construction of a multiethnic Asian American identity committed to interracial and transnational solidarity.