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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A number of recently-published books, media articles, and an infographic provide some interesting and useful information about China and Chinese Americans, summarized below:
China’s One Child Policy
Throughout the last couple of decades, there has been much discussion about China’s One Child Policy that was implemented back in the 1970s to “encourage” Chinese families from having, as the name suggests, just a single child as a way to slow China’s population growth. However, most Americans know little about the details, especially as there are increasing calls for China to change the policy. Fortunately, Good Transparencies has created an infographic that visually illustrates the main highlights of the One Child Policy (click on the thumbnail below for a larger version):
Over the past 30 years, China’s red-hot economic growth has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, reshaped the global economy and given rise to a new power on the global stage. But that breakneck growth has also created an expanding wealth gap, major environmental problems, widespread corruption, a growing imperative to innovate and popular pressure for political reforms. . . .
But as this phase of China’s economic development draws to an end, a new phase has begun. Call it China 2.0. . . . China’s leaders worry about growing too fast. Premier Wen Jiabao said in March the expansion is “unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.” To address that, the next five-year plan incorporates reforms already under way and charts a roadmap designed to keep the economy from veering off the track. . . .
The goal is to keep the economy growing, spread wealth from the industrial coastal cities to inland provinces and rural areas, encourage more domestic spending, spur innovation and deliver expanded social services to sparsely populated areas that lack them.
Eating dogs and cats–which is an age-old delicacy in China–could soon be against the law. Currently, dog and cat meat is viewed as promoting bodily warmth. But if the law passes, people who eat either animal could face fines of up to $730 or 15 days in jail. Organizations involved the practice would face fines up to 100-times as much.
“I support this proposal. Whether you judge this as a question of food security or emotions, there is absolutely no necessity in China for people to eat dogs and cats,” said Zeng Li, the founder of the Lucky Cats shelter in Beijing. . . . The law has been in the draft stage for over a year and will be submitted to higher authorities come April. But draft legislation can take years to approve. . . .
The economic impact of this law would be small as China’s affluent don’t partake in the delicacy. In fact, such traditions have received much scrutiny from affluent, pet-loving, urban middle class. And online petitions against dog and cat consumption have attracted tens of thousands of signatures.
Every week a new book title announces an “irresistible” tilt east, the emergence of “Chimerica” and a not-too-distant future when China “rules” the planet. The mainstream media, and especially the business press, are gripped by the narrative of China taking over the world. . . .
But the coverage of China’s global inroads has been profoundly short on context, particularly when it comes to how China is—and is not—surpassing the U.S. as a global power. There are plenty of stories of a Chinese-sponsored infrastructure project or a Chinese company cutting a deal to feed its “insatiable thirst” for raw materials, while Western involvement of similar or greater magnitude is lucky to make a headline at all.
Meanwhile, a close look at the key economic metrics and the subtler shades of power, such as cultural influence and humanitarian aid, reveals that while China is indeed one of the great powers in the world now (late last month it officially overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy), its influence is mixed, and often undercut by America’s.
Cutting-edge programs like those at the immersion charter school Yu Ying in Washington, D.C., and reports of Chinese-language courses popping up in heartland America would all seem to suggest that Americans are on the fast track to learning Chinese—and ultimately understanding China. . . . You’ll be hard-pressed, the reasoning goes, to find anyone who doesn’t think grasping the language of the world’s fastest-growing economy is a good idea.
But the sad fact is that Americans are not learning Mandarin, the main tongue spoken in mainland China, in droves. Just take a look at the numbers. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, in 2008 only 4 percent of middle and high schools that offer foreign-language instruction included Mandarin. That’s up from 1 percent in 1997.
While that initially seems like respectable growth, the same survey reveals that 13 percent of schools still offer Latin and a full 10-fold more schools offer French than Mandarin. How is it that one a dead language and the other a language primarily used to impress your dinner companion can trounce one spoken by 1.3 billion natives and many millions more expats and immigrants abroad?
The US administration seems to be trying to convince its public of another untruth: that China is the true cause of America’s economic woes — and that China possesses “weapons of mass economic destruction.” What is that weapon of mass economic destruction? The humble yuan, which the US says has been manipulated to hurt the American economy. . . .
Economist Paul Krugman recently said China’s trade surplus with the US had grown in the past decade even without the yuan rising sufficiently against the dollar. Before America’s economic 9/11, however, its consumers seemed happy to get affordable Chinese goods year after year and its businesspeople were busy making profits from lucrative partnerships with Chinese companies. . . .
China’s stimulus for its economy has created opportunities for Western countries’ exports, too. . . . China would readily buy more advanced technologies from America, but Washington is reluctant to sell them. . . . . Hopefully, [Americans] will see through their politicians’ desperate attempt to shift the blame for the country’s problems to China in order to cover their own failures.
U.S. Army veteran Joaquin Lim sensed something was amiss with the troop that had popped up at civic events in Southern California’s Chinese-American communities. At a flag raising ceremony honoring a Chinese holiday, the Walnut city councilman stopped one of the recruits and asked to see his military ID. “There were actually typos on the ID card,” Lim said. “Right away, I knew something was wrong.”
Those suspicions came into the spotlight Tuesday when authorities arrested the so-called “supreme commander” of the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit and charged him with duping Chinese immigrants into thinking they had truly enlisted in the American armed forces.
Prosecutors say Yupeng Deng, 51, recruited 100 other Chinese immigrants . . . at the cost of several hundred dollars, to help improve their chances of obtaining green cards and U.S. citizenship. . . . The case — which was investigated by the FBI and Department of Defense — highlights the vulnerability of immigrants desperately seeking to belong in a new country and naive to the norms of a society in which, for example, military recruits don’t pay to enlist.
skilled immigrants are leaving the U.S. in droves. This is because of economic opportunities in countries like India and China, a desire to be closer to family and friends, and a deeply flawed U.S immigration system. It doesn’t matter whether we call this “brain drain” or “brain circulation”– it is a loss for America. Innovation that would otherwise be happening here is going abroad. . . .
Surprisingly, 72% of Indian and 81% of Chinese returnees said that the opportunities to start their own businesses were better or much better in their home countries. Speed of professional growth was also better back home for the majority of Indian (54%) and Chinese (68 percent) entrepreneurs. And the quality of life was better or at least equal to what they’d enjoyed in the United States for 56% of Indian and 59% of Chinese returnees.
In the 1980s, a wave of Chinese from Fujian province began arriving in America. Like other immigrant groups before them, they showed up with little money but with an intense work ethic and an unshakeable belief in the promise of the United States. Many of them lived in a world outside the law, working in a shadow economy overseen by the ruthless gangs that ruled the narrow streets of New York’s Chinatown.
The figure who came to dominate this Chinese underworld was a middle-aged grandmother known as Sister Ping. Her path to the American dream began with an unusual business run out of a tiny noodle store on Hester Street. From her perch above the shop, Sister Ping ran a full-service underground bank for illegal Chinese immigrants. But her real business—a business that earned an estimated $40 million—was smuggling people.
As a “snakehead,” she built a complex—and often vicious—global conglomerate, relying heavily on familial ties, and employing one of Chinatown’s most violent gangs to protect her power and profits. Based on hundreds of interviews, Patrick Radden Keefe’s sweeping narrative tells the story not only of Sister Ping, but of the gangland gunslingers who worked for her, the immigration and law enforcement officials who pursued her, and the generation of penniless immigrants who risked death and braved a 17,000 mile odyssey so that they could realize their own version of the American dream.
Mulan, the warrior maiden who performed heroic deeds in battle while dressed as a male soldier, has had many incarnations from her first appearance as a heroine in an ancient Chinese folk ballad. Mulan’s story was retold for centuries, extolling the filial virtue of the young woman who placed her father’s honor and well-being above her own. With the publication of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior in the late 1970s, Mulan first became familiar to American audiences who were fascinated with the extraordinary Asian American character. Mulan’s story was recast yet again in the popular 1998 animated Disney film and its sequel.
In Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, Lan Dong traces the development of this popular icon and asks, “Who is the real Mulan?” and “What does authenticity mean for the critic looking at this story?” Dong charts this character’s literary voyage across historical and geographical borders, discussing the narratives and images of Mulan over a long time span—from premodern China to the contemporary United States to Mulan’s counter-migration back to her homeland.
As Dong shows, Mulan has been reinvented repeatedly in both China and the United States so that her character represents different agendas in each retelling—especially after she reached the western hemisphere. The dutiful and loyal daughter, the fierce, pregnant warrior, and the feisty teenaged heroine—each is Mulan representing an idea about female virtue at a particular time and place.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was a historic act of legislation that demonstrated how the federal government of the United States once openly condoned racial discrimination. Once the Exclusion Act passed, the door was opened to further limitation of Asians in America during the late 19th century, such as the Scott Act of 1888 and the Geary Act of 1892, and increased hatred towards and violence against Chinese people based on the misguided belief they were to blame for depressed wage levels and unemployment among Caucasians.
This title traces the complete evolution of the Exclusion Act, including the history of Chinese immigration to the United States, the factors that served to increase their populations here, and the subsequent efforts to limit further immigration and encourage the departure of the Chinese already in America.
Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other related opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues. 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 Participants: BBC Documentary on Viet Nam War
I am a BBC journalist writing from London. I work on a history programme called “Witness”, which focuses on significant events in the recent past. The hundreds of subjects that we have looked at have included the trial of Nelson Mandela, the bombing of Hiroshima and the beginnings of the civil rights movement in America — to name just a few. Our programme is broadcast to a large audience around the world.
And in the weeks ahead we very much hope to focus on the stories of those who fled Vietnam by boat at the end of the war there in the 1970s. We are simply looking for interviewees who might be willing to tell us — in quite strong English — what they went through. I realise that, for some, remembering such traumatic events this will not be at all easy. But we would like to be able to remind our listeners around the world what the Vietnamese boat people endured. We want to record their story for our archive.
Would you, I wonder, be able to put me in touch figures in the Vietnamese refugee community who might be able to help in our search for interviewees? They can contact me through my email below.
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is kicking off its Scholarship Program for the 2011 academic year. At the national level, JACL offers over 30 awards, with an annual total of over $60,000 in scholarships.
JACL Membership, which is required for applications, is open to anyone of any ethnic group. Membership dues can be paid online or with the application. The 2011 National JACL Scholarship Program informational brochure and applications are posted on the JACL website.
JACL Scholarship applications for Undergraduate, Graduate, Law, Creative & Performing Arts, and Financial Aid. The deadline for these applications is April 1, 2011. These are to be sent directly by the applicants to: National JACL Scholarship Program, c/o Portland JACL, P.O. Box 86310, Portland, OR 97286.
For additional information regarding the JACL National Scholarship Program, please contact Patty Wada at (415) 345-1075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth Justice Leadership Institute Seeks Applicants for 2011-2012 Program Year
The National Juvenile Justice Network seeks applicants for the pilot year of its Youth Justice Leadership Institute. The Institute’s mission is to create the foundation for a more effective juvenile justice reform movement by developing a strong base of well prepared and well trained advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies.
The Institute’s inaugural year will focus on cultivating and supporting professionals of color. The Institute is a robust, year long program that includes leadership development, training in juvenile justice system policies and practices, and advocacy skills development. The Institute will bring fellows together twice during the year, attach each fellow to a mentor and envelope fellows within the larger juvenile justice reform community.
If you are a professional of color and are interested in applying for the Institute, please visit our web site to download our application packet or contact the Institute’s Coordinator, Diana Onley-Campbell, at email@example.com. Applications are due on April 26, 2011.
The “Chinese shop” in all its manifestations (laundry, bakery, restaurant, general store, etc.) has been integrally connected to Chinese migration and the experience of overseas Chinese. Indeed, the Chinese shop has been both a site of economic and symbolic exchange – a complex locus of power and performative societal tensions and identifications. As such, the consideration of Chinese shop space provides an intriguing staring point from which to investigate many key socio-political issues for Chinese diasporic communities.
Hosted at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, this conference aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to investigate how the space and place of the Chinese shop (broadly defined) has been conceived of and experienced for overseas Chinese. In particular, it seeks to explore the transformative socio-cultural, economic and political processes that create the space and place of the Chinese shop both within Chinese diasporic communities and in terms of encounters between the Chinese and their host societies.
We encourage panels and papers with diverse disciplinary approaches to this theme, including those that consider the Chinese shop within transnational, hemispheric and/or comparative contexts. Topics might include, but are not limited to the following:
The representation and imagination of shop space
The political contestations and designations of shop space
Theoretical deliberations on the spatial dimensions of the Chinese shop
The shop as gendered space
The shop as racialized space
The historical, social and economic implications of the Chinese shop
The impact of nationalism, globalization, colonialism, and/or imperialism on Chinese shop space
The deadline for abstracts is Friday, April 29th, 2011. Abstracts and CVs can be submitted online by clicking on the “Submit Abstracts” link in the menu on the right-hand side of the page. Additional questions can be addressed to Dr. Anne-Marie Lee-Loy at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A scholarship fund has been established in honor of Warren E. Miller for participation in the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) 2011 Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research. Professor Miller was not only one of the most prominent figures in modern social science research. He was also the founder of both ICPSR and the ICPSR Summer Program.
The Warren E. Miller Scholarship Fund will provide financial support to outstanding pre-tenure scholars (assistant professors and advanced graduate students) in the social and behavioral sciences so they may attend one or both of the four-week sessions in the 2011 ICPSR Summer Program. Recipients of the Miller Scholarship will receive a fee waiver to cover Program enrollment and a stipend to help with expenses while staying in Ann Arbor. Applicants to the Warren E. Miller Scholarship should have professional interests in one or more of the following areas of research (or in related fields):
Developing a common approach to understanding electoral behavior within or across nations
Understanding the process of democratization in electoral systems
Understanding the link between global politics and local electoral behavior
Understanding how context influences political behavior
Understanding how globalization causes change in political behavior
Application materials for the Miller Scholarship should be submitted electronically, through the ICPSR Summer Program’s online Portal on the Summer Program’s website. Applicants should register for the 2011 Summer Program using the online form and select classes in one or both of the four-week sessions. Note that course selections may be modified and changed later. But, the Miller Scholarship Committee may use an applicant’s preferred courses as a criterion in the selection process for the scholarship. Along with a completed registration, an application must include:
A current vita
A cover letter from the student, explaining how participation in the ICPSR Summer Program will contribute toward completion of the Ph.D.
Two letters of recommendation. For applicants who are faculty members, one of these letters should come from his or her Department Chair. For graduate student applicants, one of the letters should come from his or her faculty advisor or dissertation chairperson. Letters of recommendation should be e-mailed directly to email@example.com. Letter writers should include “MILLER SCHOLARSHIP RECOMMENDATION” and the applicant’s name in the subject line of the e-mail message.
The application deadline for the Warren E. Miller Scholarship is April 29, 2011. Further information about the ICPSR Summer Program, including course descriptions and the 2011 schedule, is available on the Program website. Also, you should feel free to contact the ICPSR Summer Program by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by telephone (734-763-7400) if you have any questions.
Call for Papers: Critical Refugee Studies
Conference on Critical Refugee Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
November 3-4, 2011
Displacement of populations affects the uprooted as well as communities that receive them. Recognized by international proxy after World War II, the identity category of refugee has a history as long as the incidence of warfare and other crises that result in displacement. This conference uses the 20th century invention of the category of refugee as a means to compare the experiences of displaced persons across time and space.
We invite papers that chronicle and reflect on the experiences and representations of refugee populations. In particular, we are interested in work that expands the idea of the refugee to create comparisons and parallels with the experiences of other groups. Papers that define the term refugee broadly and creatively are most welcome. Among the questions we invite:
How do refugee identities compare to those of other migrants?
As local and global political contexts change, how do refugees conceptualize notions of citizenship and home?
How are refugee identities in dialogue with concepts of place/displacement?
What is the role of memory and the creation of refugee texts?
How is the refugee experience mediated/mass mediated?
Abstracts by May 15, 2011 to: email@example.com.
Michael Rios, Director, Sacramento Diasporas Project, University of California-Davis
Romola Sanyal, Lecturer in Global Urbanism, Newcastle University
Ghita Schwarz, New York Legal Aid, Author, Displaced Persons
Shirley Tang, Asian American/American Studies University of Massachusetts, Boston
Dinaw Mengestu, Author, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears; How to Read the Air (To Be Confirmed)
Call for Papers: Disability in Asian America
Amerasia Journal Special Issue Call for Papers: The State of Illness and Disability in Asian America
Guest Editors: Professor Jennifer Ho (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and Professor James Kyung-Jin Lee (University of California, Irvine)
We seek critical essays and articles as well as creative non-fiction and first-person accounts that engage with the intersections of Asian American discourse and illness/disability studies, for a special issue of Amerasia Journal, scheduled for publication in 2012.
Since, as scholar Michael Berube observes, “the definition of disability, like the definition of illness, is inevitably a matter of social debate and social construction,” we are interested in how these social constructions of disability and illness coincide, collide, and converge with those of ethnicity and race, along with other axes of intersectionality such as gender, sexuality, class, region, religion, age, and education.
Critiquing the narrow perspective of the discipline, scholar Chris Bell has noted “the failure of Disability Studies to engage issues of race and ethnicity in a substantive capacity, thereby entrenching whiteness as its constitutive underpinning.” One goal of this special issue is to provide another forum in which to challenge entrenched whiteness within Disability and Illness Studies as well as to bring to the foreground the state of illness and disability within the Asian American community. Contributors to this special issue may consider the following questions:
What is the role of illness and disability within Asian American narratives—be they in fiction, non-fiction, or cinematic form—and/or how is the ill or disabled Asian American body represented within these narratives?
How are illness and disability regarded within Asian American communities and cultural productions?
What are the special needs of Asian Americans who face life threatening and chronic illnesses?
What kinds of accommodations do Asian Americans with disabilities find most challenging in light of their ethnic and cultural backgrounds and/or as a result of their racialization as non-white Americans?
How might Asian American experiences of disability and/or illness invite a reimagination of what constitutes a “good” life practice or way of living, and what kinds of social transformations would be necessary to make this so?
Submission Guidelines and Deadlines:
Due Date for one-page abstracts: June 15, 2011. Due Date for solicited final papers: January 2012. Publication Date: Fall 2012. The editorial procedure involves a three-step process: The guest editors, in consultation with the Amerasia Journal editors and peer reviewers, make decisions on the final essays:
1. Approval of abstracts
2. Submission of papers solicited from accepted abstracts
3. Revision of accepted peer-reviewed papers and final submission
Please send correspondence regarding the special issue on illness and disabilities studies in Asian American Studies to the following addresses. All correspondence should refer to “Amerasia Journal Disabilities Studies Issue” in the subject line.
Professor Jennifer Ho: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor James Kyung-Jin Lee: email@example.com
Arnold Pan, Amerasia Journal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Papers: Mixed-Status Immigrant Families
“In Between the Shadows of Citizenship: Mixed Status Families”
Guest Editors: Mary Romero, Professor, Arizona State University, Justice and Social Inquiry and Jodie Lawston, Assistant Professor, California State University San Marcos, Women’s Studies
Despite the fact that immigration stories are increasingly featured in U.S. popular media discourse and an immigrant justice movement continues to strengthen, little scholarship has focused on the experiences of immigrants and their families, and especially, families who are mixed status in that they are comprised of both citizens and noncitizens. This edited volume aims to examine the experiences of immigrants and mixed status families in terms of work and education, raids, deportations, and detention, and resistance toward anti-immigrant sentiment. We welcome and encourage work that examines not just the experiences of immigrants in the U.S., but the experiences of immigrants around the globe.
The questions we are interested in exploring include but are not restricted to the following: What forms of work do immigrant women engage in to support their families? What are the struggles of undocumented students? How do raids, deportations, and detention affect families? How do such phenomena affect mixed status families? What are the experiences of immigrants, particularly women and children, in detention? How have changes in laws affected undocumented immigrants and their children? What strategies have justice movements used to protect undocumented men, women, and children? How are countries around the world approaching immigration and undocumented immigration, and how does that compare to U.S. policies? We seek explorations and answers to these questions that engage notions of gender, race and ethnicity, place, and culture as well as documentation and analysis of leadership and activism.
The following topical areas broadly outline the subject matter that we see as most relevant to this volume. These can be used as starting points for papers, but authors are not restricted to them:
The effects of detention on immigrant families, particularly in separating those families
The impact of family reunification
The intersection of work and immigration status
The effects of immigration status on students
The effects of raids and/or deportations on families
Changes in laws and resulting effects on immigrants’ lives
Immigrant justice work
Comparative studies of issues related to immigration in different parts of the world
The intersections of race, class, gender, and with immigration status
We are interested in both academic papers and testimonies from immigrant women on the above topics.
Submission Process: Proposals for academic papers or testimonies, no longer than three pages, should be emailed to Jodie Lawston at email@example.com by Wed. June 15, 2011. Author(s) must include all identifying information on the proposal, including name, title, institutional affiliation, address, phone numbers, and email. After the deadline, we will review proposals and contact authors as to which manuscripts we are interested in reviewing for the book. Proposals must include the subject matter of the paper, methods used for your analysis, and the argument you plan to make based on your data.
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. This time around, two new books examine the history and contemporary dynamics of two sets of Asian American enclaves: Chinatowns and Little Saigons.
Karin Aguilar-San Juan examines the contradictions of Vietnamese American community and identity in two emblematic yet different locales: Little Saigon in suburban Orange County, California (widely described as the capital of Vietnamese America) and the urban “Vietnamese town” of Fields Corner in Boston, Massachusetts. Their distinctive qualities challenge assumptions about identity and space, growth amid globalization, and processes of Americanization.
With a comparative and race-cognizant approach, Aguilar-San Juan shows how places like Little Saigon and Fields Corner are sites for the simultaneous preservation and redefinition of Vietnamese identity. Intervening in debates about race, ethnicity, multiculturalism, and suburbanization as a form of assimilation, this work elaborates on the significance of place as an integral element of community building and its role in defining Vietnamese American-ness.
Staying Vietnamese, according to Aguilar-San Juan, is not about replicating life in Viet Nam. Rather, it involves moving toward a state of equilibrium that, though always in flux, allows refugees, immigrants, and their U.S.-born offspring to recalibrate their sense of self in order to become Vietnamese anew in places far from their presumed geographic home.
In American Chinatown, acclaimed travel writer Bonnie Tsui takes an affectionate, attentive look at the neighborhood that has bewitched her since childhood, when she eagerly awaited her grandfather’s return from the fortune cookie factory.
Tsui visits the country’s four most famous Chinatowns — San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu — and makes her final, fascinating stop in Las Vegas; in her explorations, she focuses on the remarkable experiences of ordinary people. Tsui beautifully captures their vivid stories, giving readers a deeper look into what “Chinatown” means to its inhabitants, what each community takes on from its American home, and what their experience means to America at large. American Chinatown is an all-access pass.
Whether you’re Asian American or not, I presume that you have heard of, and have probably visited, at least one Chinatown around the U.S. As history shows us, such Chinatowns were created largely out of necessity by Chinese immigrants who, in many cases, were restricted in terms of where they could live and what kinds of jobs they could have.
All of these “traditional” Chinatowns and other Asian enclaves are located in central urban areas in cities like San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and others. Through the years, they’ve seen their ups and downs but since the influx of some 20 million Asian immigrants after the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act, many Chinatowns have grown, expanded, and flourished.
In fact, particularly in southern California and New York City, the arrival of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean immigrants was so large that the original urban Chinatowns had no more room for them. Also, many of these newer Asian immigrants were more affluent and didn’t want to settled for the crowded and noisy residences in these older urban enclaves and instead, wanted to “cash in” on their middle class status and live in the suburbs.
With this in mind, beginning in the early 1980s, the first suburban Chinatowns emerged in Monterey Park (San Gabriel Valley), CA and Flushing (Queens), NY. Professor Susie Ling of Pasadena City College has just written a very interesting and informative history of Asians in the San Gabriel Valley, which dates back even earlier than the 1965 Immigration Act and how the first suburban Chinatown in the country developed there. Here are some excerpts:
According to the 1990 census, Monterey Park had a majority 56 percent Asian population. Inevitably, White flight took place and more Mandarin Chinese – followed by populations of other Asians – started to migrate to the other suburban communities of San Gabriel Valley including Alhambra, San Gabriel, Rosemead, etc.
After some initial resistance, public libraries and schools began to embrace multilingualism and multiculturalism. Alhambra High School established Mandarin into their foreign language curriculum. Alhambra Rotary is very ethnically diverse and supports myriad community activities. Since 1991, the City of Alhambra and the City of San Gabriel have jointly sponsored a Lunar New Year parade. . . .
Of course there are problems in the San Gabriel Valley. Development has led to congestion. Unemployment, homelessness, and drug abuse are real. There are Asian gangs, Latino gangs, and even mixed gangs. There have been racial squabbles at each of the local high schools. Asians are underrepresented in certain professions and overrepresented in certain industries.
But for the young generation of San Gabriel residents, diversity is norm. As happily as they embrace new technologies, they accept social change and think it is normal. Multilingual, multiracial, and multicultural, they are comfortable in diversity and they expect diversity. The Asian American youth do not know that they are “supposed to” major in engineering and not in sports.
They would not understand why they would want to or “should” date someone of their own ethnic background, as many of their uncles and aunties have mixed marriages. With cultural tolerance is a great celebration of other forms of diversity, from disability, to sexual orientation, to lifestyle. These kids are the Asian American generation that owns the San Gabriel Valley.
Having studied cities like Monterey Park in graduate school, I am fascinated by how its development into the country’s first suburban Chinatown represents a very complex, sometimes volatile, but always fascinating mix of globalization, demographic change, ethnic succession, and cultural pluralism. For those who’d like to learn more about it, I recommend The Politics of Diversity: Immigration, Resistance, and Change in Monterey Park, California. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
As I’ve written about before, these kinds of suburban Chinatowns and other Asian ethnic enclaves are, more than likely, going to become more numerous and bigger as (1) The Asian American population continues to grow significantly and (2) urban Asian enclaves such as Chinatown are slowly becoming gentrified as urban developers and city planners continue to attract residents — especially affluent ones — back to central urban areas.
Nonetheless, while it’s always nice to see more of these types of suburban enclaves that are focal points of diversity and racial/ethnic pluralism, you can only make history once and that is Monterey Park’s/the San Gabriel Valley’s distinction: the first truly suburban Chinatown in the U.S.
As I’m sure many of you have heard already, there was a tragic bus accident in Texas on Friday in which 15 Vietnamese Americans were killed and several dozens more injured when their chartered bus apparently blew a tire, lost control, flipped off a bridge, and crashed.
Most of the passengers were from Vietnamese Catholic Martyr Church in southeast Houston and Our Lady of Lavang Church, northwest of Houston. Houston contains the third-largest population of Vietnamese Americans in the U.S., behind Orange County (CA) and San Jose (CA). They were on their way to a pilgrimage in Missouri to celebrate The Feast of Assumption.
What makes this tragedy even worse are that (1) it seems that the bus did not have a license to legally operate, (2) the owners of the bus company had been cited several times for previous safety violations while he ran another bus company, and (3) the most immediate cause of the crash was apparently a right front tire that had been recapped, again in violation of safety regulations.
To try to put this tragedy in a larger sociological context, it’s necessary to tie this accident to similar problems and accidents involving chartered buses that serve Chinatown residents in the northeast (sometimes called “Dragon buses”) and their checkered record when it comes to safety.
The observation I’m trying to make is that many Asian American immigrant populations, such as those in Chinatowns and the Vietnamese one in Houston, have little choice but to go with the least expensive charter bus service possible, since that is all that their financial resources allow. Unfortunately, it seems that this then puts them in greater danger of shady bus companies that cut corners on safety in order be able to charge lower prices.
To top it all off, in many cases, many of these unsafe bus companies are run by other Asian Americans, or in the case of the Houston tragedy, by other people of color. In other words, such operators are basically preying on their own community and putting their lives in danger in order to make a profit.
When most Americans think about how or why the first Chinatowns appeared in California in the mid-1800s, most assume that it was because the Chinese immigrants who came to the U.S. instinctively wanted to live among each other and to seclude themselves from the rest of American society. In fact, the real reason why Chinatowns first appeared was just the opposite — Chinese immigrants were basically forced to live in their own secluded neighborhoods and had no other choice.
You see, as after the end of the Gold Rush and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, White workers increasingly saw Chinese immigrants as economic threats who would someday take over their jobs. Based on these paranoid and racist sentiments, an anti-Chinese movement emerged that eventually culminated in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the first time in U.S. history that one ethnic group was singled out and forbidden from coming to the U.S., and for those already here, forbidden from becoming U.S. citizens.
Other local and state laws restricted where the Chinese could live, what jobs they could have, denied them a public education, and prevented them from marrying Whites. In other words, it was not a matter of the Chinese not wanting to assimilate into mainstream American society — in fact, they weren’t even given the option of even attempting to do so.
Therefore, in the face of this overwhelming hostility, for their physical and economic survival, Chinese immigrants had no other choice but to form their own ethnic enclaves — the first Chinatowns. These Chinatowns at least allowed the Chinese to make a living among themselves, taught them small business ownership skills, and as some scholars argued, ultimately promoted greater ethnic solidarity among the Chinese.
In the eyes of most Americans, these Chinatowns were at best, seen as curious outposts where visitors could experience a “taste of the exotic” and at its worst, as filthy ghettos overrun by subhuman heathens from a mysterious and faraway land. Based on these popular stereotypes, for much of their existence, Americans basically left these Chinatowns alone — until now.
Starting in the 1970s, many Chinatowns around the country began to flourish and expand (most notably in New York City and San Francisco) as large numbers of Chinese immigrants began arriving as a result of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. As more Chinese immigrants moved in and ethnic businesses opened up, these Chinatowns almost single-handedly revitalized many largely abandoned urban downtown areas.
However, as the Christian Science Monitor reports, their recent success has started to lead to their undoing — as downtown areas become hip, fashionable, trendy, and desirable again, many Chinatowns are fighting for their existence in the face of overwhelming demands for their land and grand development plans:
Residents of [Boston’s] Chinatown next door see the 20 acres – called the “Chinatown Gateway” on zoning maps – as their best chance to develop much-needed affordable housing and alleviate a severe housing crunch. But the city’s redevelopment authority has dubbed the area “South Bay” and envisions a new downtown district with upscale apartments, hotels, and offices.
This struggle in Boston is the latest in a land squeeze that is changing the nature of Chinatowns across the United States. As America’s downtowns become hip again, urban real estate is becoming so valuable that ethnic enclaves find it increasingly difficult to survive as the first stop for new immigrants, usually with few skills and no English.
Once a fixture in most major US cities, many Chinatowns have ceased to exist as magnets for new arrivals. San Diego’s Chinatown is now a historic district. A coalition in Phoenix is trying to save the last remaining Chinatown structure from becoming a luxury apartment building. Four of the enclaves in the 10 largest cities – in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia – are now commercial areas. Dallas, which never had a historic Chinatown, designated a retail center as “Chinatown” in the 1980s. Other Chinatowns in Seattle, Detroit, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., are today primarily tourist spots. . . .
Urban development will ultimately win out, and as part of that trend, Chinatown will become a tourist destination, predicts Michael Liu, a research associate at the Institute for Asian-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. “The question is, who will this new Chinatown benefit?” asks Mr. [Peter] Kwong, the author.
Are Chinatowns like the one in Boston destined to fade away into the pages of Americans history as the article implies? To be honest, the picture is not encouraging. As history shows, much like how the spread of capitalism around the world has fundamentally transformed many societies and economies, the march of gentrification and urban/suburban development has been almost overwhelming and has leveled historic neighborhood after historic neighborhood. Therefore, on that front, the prognosis is not encouraging.
At the same time, the other component of this trend lies with the Asian American population itself and the paradoxes of its successes. That is, as Asian Americans have increasingly achieved socioeconomic parity with the majority White population — and in some instances, have surpassed them — many Asian Americans feel uninhibited and unrestricted in moving into mixed or predominantly White affluent neighborhoods and other social settings.
In other words, Asian Americans are increasingly integrating themselves into the American mainstream. As a result, many may not longer have a strong attachment to traditional ethnic enclaves like Chinatowns any longer. While they may still have a strong sense of their Asian identity, they want to enjoy the products and luxuries of their hard work, many of which are likely to be located outside of traditional urban Chinatowns. In that sense, for many Asian- and Chinese Americans, there is less demand for what Chinatowns have to offer.
However, in the midst of these developments, there seems to be an interesting middle ground emerging — the development of suburban Chinatowns and ethnic enclaves. Rather than being located inside crowded urban downtown areas, many of these new ethnic enclaves are located in the suburbs and therein lies their appeal — Chinese and other Asian American residents get to enjoy the amenities associated with their affluence that only suburbs can provide while at the same time, also enjoy the company and social-psychological comfort of having large numbers of co-ethnic neighbors.
In fact, many suburban Chinatowns and other Asian-majority communities now exist around the country — Monterey Park and its surrounding cities in southern California; Sunnyvale and its neighboring cities in northern California; and Flushing, Bayside, and Palisades Park and others in the New York City metropolitan area. As they continue to flourish and attract even more residents, they stand as perhaps a new model of assimilation in contemporary American society.
That is, as the world in general but American society in particular continue to become more globalized and transnational, the definition of what it means to be an American is changing and expanding. The new, emerging picture includes room for those who may not have been born in the U.S., who may not be White, and who might prefer to live in a co-ethnic enclave, but who nonetheless consistently make valuable contributions to American society, its culture, and its economy.
Ultimately, we may not know what will become of the traditional urban Chinatowns that are increasingly becoming gentrified. However, the evidence that does exist suggests that while the form and location of these ethnic enclaves may change, their vibrancy, attraction, and value to American culture remains as strong as ever.