Contemporary Asian American Communities

Contemporary Asian American Communities: Intersections And Divergences

Linda Trinh Võ
Rick Bonus
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Temple University Press
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Asian American Communities
    Book Description:

    Once thought of in terms of geographically bounded spaces, Asian America has undergone profound changes as a result of post-1965 immigration as well as the growth and reshaping of established communities. This collection of original essays demonstrates that conventional notions of community, of ethnic enclaves determined by exclusion and ghettoization, now have limited use in explaining the dynamic processes of contemporary community formation.Writing from a variety of perspectives, these contributors expand the concept of community to include sites not necessarily bounded by space; formations around gender, class, sexuality, and generation reveal new processes as well as the demographic diversity of today's Asian American population. The case studies gathered here speak to the fluidity of these communities and to the need for new analytic approaches to account for the similarities and differences between them. Taken together, these essays forcefully argue that it is time to replace the outworn concept of a monolithic Asian America.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0124-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. INTRODUCTION: On Intersections and Divergences
    (pp. 1-24)
    Rick Bonus and Linda Trinh Võ

    During a recent conference of the Association for Asian American Studies, we attended a dinner banquet at a restaurant in the Chinatown section of Philadelphia. When our server came, he gave chopsticks to all but one person, who is half Japanese, a quarter Danish, and a quarter Czech, and has reddish hair and freckles. To her, he gave a fork. When she pointed this out, we laughed and decided that, in solidarity, we would all ask for forks. When we did, the server was puzzled. He looked at our friend and said, “She’s American, isn’t she?” We understood what he...

  5. Part I Communities in Transition:: Spaces and Practices
    • CHAPTER 1 Asian and Latino Immigration and the Revitalization of Sunset Park, Brooklyn
      (pp. 27-44)
      Tarry Hum

      A consequence of the most recent period of immigration from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia is the rise in multi-racial and multi-ethnic neighborhoods.¹ The transformation of local neighborhoods presents a critical opportunity to examine the enduring and new ways in which race, ethnicity, and nativity shape the spatial and socioeconomic organization of urban life (Muller 1993; Waldinger 1987). Sunset Park, Brooklyn, exemplifies the dramatic demographic recomposition of New York City neighborhoods and provides an ideal case study to examine the micro-level processes of post-1965 immigrant settlement and neighborhood change. More important, Sunset Park shows the need for new epistemological...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Politics and Poetics of a Taiwanese Chinese American Identity
      (pp. 45-59)
      Eileen Chia-Ching Fung

      In the fall of 1997, Taiwan’s major news and media organizations made a shocking announcement: “Chiang Ching-kuo is not Chiang Kai-shek’s son.” “Lard, wild dog sterilized President Chiang,” the media reported. “We must rewrite history.” The story told the nation that the revered Chiang Kai-shek and his first son, Chiang Chingkuo, both of whom became presidents of Taiwan, were not of the same blood. A tape made in the spring of 1994 and discovered in 1997 tells a story about the dubious birth of Chiang Ching-kuo, who inherited the presidency of Taiwan from his father in 1975 and became the...

    • CHAPTER 3 Southeast Asians in the House: Multiple Layers of Identity
      (pp. 60-74)
      Russell Jeung

      One hot summer afternoon in East Oakland, I stopped by 2-7, a known hangout for the Oaktown Junior Crips. The name “2-7” stands for 27th Avenue, the street where the house was located. I sat on the front steps with Sharon, a young mom on welfare who was feeding her baby. Nearby, tattooed teenagers dressed in blue stood around their cars, throwing dice and smoking. They had been there all day, because none of them held a job. “What do you’ll think you’ll do for work when you get old?” I asked one. He just laughed at the thought of...

    • CHAPTER 4 Gay Asian Men in Los Angeles Before the 1980s
      (pp. 75-88)
      Eric C. Wat

      Gay bars were once the major site of community formation for gay men in metropolitan American cities. When most gay men had to keep a watchful eye in their own neighborhoods and workplaces, they could not very well form communities where they lived and worked. Bars, many of them lifeless and inconspicuous in broad daylight, became safe (or, at least, safer) havens for men who reserved expressions of their sexuality for the night. As the historian John D’Emilio has written about his experience as a young gay undergraduate at Columbia University in the mid-1960s, “Virtually all of the visual images...

    • CHAPTER 5 Pilipino ka ba? Internet Discussions in the Filipino Community
      (pp. 89-102)
      Emily Noelle Ignacio

      Internet communities are particularly exciting sites to study because they are formed in transnational places and potentially consist of thousands of people located around the world. Many scholars have shown that the organizing principles of cyberspace communities differ from communities based on physical proximity (see, for example, Bromberg 1996). In particular, an “empathetic proximity” exists in virtual and nonvirtual communities that are based on common interests, tastes, and ideas (Lemos 1996). This empathetic proximity, in turn, creates an imaginary boundary, or “symbolic territoriality,” around the community. Thus, although there are many parallels between real-life and virtual communities, studying communities in...

  6. Part II Communities in Transformation:: Identities and Generations
    • CHAPTER 6 Pacific Islander Americans and Asian American Identity
      (pp. 105-119)
      Debbie Hippolite Wright and Paul Spickard

      These items all point toward ambivalence in Asian American communities and in Asian American studies circles about the relationship between Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans. One often sees the term “Asian Pacific Islander” or an analogue in print (Rimonte 1989). In what senses and for what purposes may one consider Pacific Islanders to be Asian Americans? For more than two decades, Asians and Pacific Islanders have been linked in the eyes of some government agencies, some community activists, and some ethnic-studies scholars. Yet Pacific Islanders have never been central participants in the construction and performance of Asian American identity...

    • CHAPTER 7 “Eligible” to Be Japanese American: Multiraciality in Basketball Leagues and Beauty Pageants
      (pp. 120-133)
      Rebecca Chiyoko King

      In the year 2000, when the Office of Management and Budget changed the way that race was enumerated in the U.S. Census to allow people to self-report more than one race, many Asian American communities came face to face with the fact that their demographics are shifting to include an increasing number of multiracial members. In general, Asian American community groups did not support changing the census to allow multiraciality to be expressed because they worried that the inclusion of a “multiracial” category would decrease the proportion of people who reported themselves as Asian American (U.S. Department of Commerce 1997:...

    • CHAPTER 8 Young Asian American Professionals in Los Angeles: A Community in Transition
      (pp. 134-146)
      Pensri Ho

      In the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, young Asian American professionals use social networks to mobilize their individual and collective efforts strategically to secure and perpetuate middle-class ascendancy. Yet this community of young professionals is in transition, professionally and spatially. In their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, these men and women are in the process of discovering their professional niche and negotiating the complexities of establishing a dominant presence in their respective careers. This endeavor sometimes forces these professionals to become increasingly mobile; in their pursuit of lucrative employment or in compliance with employers’ demands, they must travel or relocate throughout the...

    • CHAPTER 9 Internalized Stereotypes and Shame: The Struggles of 1.5-Generation Korean Americans in Hawai‘i
      (pp. 147-160)
      Mary Yu Danico

      In the early 1970s, Charles Kim, a reporter forKoreatown, the English edition of theKorean Times/Hankook Ilbo, wrote an article describing people like himself who were neither first- nor second-generation Korean Americans as the “1.5” generation, orilchom ose(Koh 1994). In the past decade, interest has been growing in the identities and affiliations of Korean immigrants and of 1.5- and second-generation Korean Americans. Although the majority of Korean Americans immigrated to California and New York after the 1965 Immigration Act, according to the 1980 and 1990 U.S. Censuses, the history of Korean immigration to the United States began...

    • CHAPTER 10 Asian Immigrant Entrepreneurial Children
      (pp. 161-174)
      Lisa Sun-Hee Park

      Jack, a Chinese American college junior, recalls his early days at his family’s restaurant:

      When we were little, we were known as the Fu Shou kids. The restaurant is called Fu Shou. We would create hell. I remember that. We were basically let loose. My brothers and I were known for being really dose. Then, in sixth grade—that’s when I started working. I started peeling shrimp at the restaurant. Doing all the grunt work and whatever dirty jobs that needed to be done. Little jobs here and there. Like laundry. Me and my brother washed laundry at the restaurant....

  7. Part III Communities of Alternatives:: Representations and Politics
    • CHAPTER 11 Imagining Panethnic Community and Performing Identity in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book
      (pp. 177-190)
      Karen Har-Yen Chow

      In Maxine Hong Kingston’s 1989 novelTripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, the stream-of-consciousness narrative of the protagonist Wittman Ah Sing’s random thoughts and actions is not a meandering journey to self-identity but a journey that is driven by a purpose outside and beyond Wittman himself. What appears as undirected blending, hybridization, and intertextualization of actions, language, and ritual is a series of negotiations that acknowledges panethnicity as the nature of Asian American community. Wittman’s desire to create art in drama ends up enacting community in a play—and further, it enacts community and ethnic identity (as far as such identity...

    • Chapter 12 Addressing Domestic Violence and the South Asian Community in the United States
      (pp. 191-201)
      Margaret Abraham

      I have been working in the area of domestic violence in the South Asian American community for more than a decade. My entree was as a researcher, but, like many other South Asian women, I became a part of a small but growing movement in the 1990s that addresses a spectrum of issues confronting South Asians in the United States.¹ Although my identity as a researcher and the goal to write about domestic violence was always central, I frequently found myself reflecting on the notions of South Asian community identity and the complexities of organizing against domestic violence.

      Notions of...

    • CHAPTER 13 Asian Pacific Americans and Urban Politics
      (pp. 202-215)
      Edward J. W. Park

      As we reflect on the transformative impact of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) on American society, urban politics emerges as one of the most prominent sites of change and struggle. Since the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, the rapid growth of the APA population and communities has become an important source of new urban tension. The growth of the APA middle class has resulted in “white flight” and backlash politics in once quiescent suburban communities (Saito 1998). In an interview with aLos Angeles Timesreporter, a white resident articulated a common reaction to APA-led neighborhood transition. Protesting the...

    • CHAPTER 14 The Political and Philanthropic Contexts for Incorporating Asian American Communities
      (pp. 216-228)
      Jiannbin Lee Shiao

      On the surface, the difference between the Asian American communities in San Francisco and Cleveland is simply demographic. We would naturally expect the larger and older populations of California to possess a more developed community infrastructure than their counterparts in Ohio. However, it is not an easy step from the complexity of self-help associations prevalent among all dense ethnic communities to the structured relationships of uniquely American nonprofit organizations that interpret, carry out, and challenge our public policies (Gallegos and O’Neill 1991; Shiao 1998). And it is yet another broad step to inclusion in the dominant coalitions in urban politics...

    • CHAPTER 15 How Public-Policy Reforms Shape, and Reveal the Shape of, Asian America
      (pp. 229-248)
      Andrew Leong

      The 1990 U.S. Census shows that the foreign-born proportion of the total Asian U.S. population was gauged at 64 percent. Projections indicate that by 2020, the foreign-born proportion will still be between 54 percent and 56 percent (Ong and Hee 1993). The Asian American community¹ comprises a predominately immigrant population. A major factor determining the community’s growth rate is tied directly to whether the U.S. Congress wants to admit or reduce the number of immigrants and refugees entering each year. More than a hundred years ago, the Congress easily shut out Asian immigrants (Hing 1993; Tamayo 1992).² Therefore, the issue...

  8. About the Contributors
    (pp. 249-250)
  9. Index
    (pp. 251-254)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-255)