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Asian Americans in Dixie

Asian Americans in Dixie: Race and Migration in the South

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Asian Americans in Dixie
    Book Description:

    Extending the understanding of race and ethnicity in the South beyond the prism of black-white relations, this interdisciplinary collection explores the growth, impact, and significance of rapidly growing Asian American populations in the American South. Avoiding the usual focus on the East and West Coasts, several essays attend to the nuanced ways in which Asian Americans negotiate the dominant black and white racial binary, while others provoke readers to reconsider the supposed cultural isolation of the region, reintroducing the South within a historical web of global networks across the Caribbean, Pacific, and Atlantic.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09595-5
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Purvi Shah
  5. INTRODUCTION: Discrepancies in Dixie: Asian Americans and the South
    (pp. 1-30)
    Jigna Desai and Khyati Y. Joshi

    The figure of the Asian American is perceived to be discrepant in and antithetical to the U.S. South.¹ Within the American imaginary, the Asian American as perpetual foreigner and alien is always seen as a recent immigrant, and therefore associated with contemporary times,² while the South is perceived as an anachronistic and isolated region; this renders the two—the Asian American and the South—allegedly mutually exclusive and incongruous. In these imaginings, the South remains a space quintessentially American but one steeped in an antebellum era of White supremacy, anti-Black racism, and outdated isolation; in supposed contrast stands the figure...


    • CHAPTER 1 Selling the East in the American South: Bengali Muslim Peddlers in New Orleans and Beyond, 1880–1920
      (pp. 33-53)
      Vivek Bald

      Over the past two decades, while South Asian American Studies has begun to coalesce as a field, the broad historical narrative of South Asian immigration to the United States has changed little. Most of the work in the field has focused on the decades of migration and settlement that unfolded after passage of the 1965 Hart-Cellar Immigration Act. This work was initially centered on the immediate beneficiaries of the 1965 Act—the doctors, engineers, and other professionals who arrived by the thousands over the course of the 1970s and ’80s. Since the mid-1990s, scholars have turned their attention to newer...

    • CHAPTER 2 Racial Interstitiality and the Anxieties of the “Partly Colored”: Representations of Asians under Jim Crow
      (pp. 54-76)
      Leslie Bow

      In the delta, home of the blues and Muddy Waters, cooks are sizzling catfish and collards and crayfish every day and night. But you don’t expect to find those home chefs stir-frying them or steaming them in a giant backyard wok.”² So begins a feature about the Chow family of Clarksdale, Mississippi, titled “East Meets South at a Delta Table: Chinese-Americans bring the tastes of their ancestors down home.” The hook for the reader’s attention is based on simple juxtaposition—Crayfish? Woks?—that trades upon a stereotypical belief in the South’s lack of cosmopolitanism. The unexpected hybridity nevertheless produces what...

    • CHAPTER 3 Racism without Recognition: Toward a Model of Asian American Racialization
      (pp. 77-104)
      Amy Brandzel and Jigna Desai

      Far from the galvanizing figure of Vincent Chin sits another figure, that of Seung-Hui Cho. Vincent Chin was a Chinese American man beaten to death by two white men in what appeared to be a frenzy of anti-Japanese scapegoating and xenophobia in the economically depressed city of Detroit in 1982. The figure of Chin, the victim of racial violence, instigated Asian American politics, activism, and communities. Located in the urban North, the racialized violence and the subsequent lack of justice became flashpoints for mobilizing within Asian America via political claims based on civil rights, inclusion, and citizenship as Americans. In...


    • CHAPTER 4 Segregation, Exclusion, and the Chinese Communities in Georgia, 1880s-1940
      (pp. 107-130)
      Daniel Bronstein

      Between 1875 and 1943, the U.S. Congress passed several laws designed to curtail Chinese entry into the United States. Unregulated Chinese migration was deemed a threat to the employment opportunities of European American workers and the machinations of white labor groups who did not want employers to use Chinese “coolie” laborers. European American intellectuals and citizens supported restrictive legislation because they viewed Chinese as racially inferior and did not want them to settle permanently in the United States. To accomplish this aim, the statutes barred Chinese from becoming U.S. citizens so they could not vote in general elections and remained...

    • CHAPTER 5 Moving out of the Margins and into the Mainstream: The Demographics of Asian Americans in the New South
      (pp. 131-164)
      Arthur Sakamoto, ChangHwan Kim and Isao Takei

      With a focus on the South, this study investigates current demographic characteristics of Asian Americans. Statistical data are analyzed in regard to population sizes, geographic distribution, multiracial and ethnic diversity, socioeconomic characteristics, migration, and other basic demographic variables. Among the many results, the high rate of demographic growth of Asian Americans in the South is notable. More Asian Americans now reside in Texas than in Hawaii, and in Atlanta than in San Francisco. Although Asian Americans are generally more likely than whites to migrate, Asian Americans in the South are the most likely to be recent migrants. In contrast to...

    • CHAPTER 6 Natives of a Ghost Country: The Vietnamese in Houston and Their Construction of a Postwar Community
      (pp. 165-189)
      Roy Vu

      The post–World War II economic and population boom of the Sunbelt states, particularly Texas, transformed Southern cities such as Houston into an attractive economic and geographical center for migrants, immigrants, and refugees to resettle. With ties to the oil refining industry, Houston experienced a dramatic economic growth period as oil production and prices soared during the 1970s. The city emerged as one of the fast-growing “New South” cities during the mid-1970s. This time period coincided with the Communist takeover of Sai Gon and the subsequent influx of approximately 130,000 Vietnamese refugees who migrated to the United States and other...

    • CHAPTER 7 Standing Up and Speaking Out: Hindu Americans and Christian Normativity in Metro Atlanta
      (pp. 190-216)
      Khyati Y. Joshi

      Chick-fil-A is one of the most popular fast food establishments in the Atlanta metropolitan area, the chain founded by a devout Christian named S. Truitt Cathy. Chick-fil-A offers a free sandwich on Mondays to any patron who brings in a church bulletin,¹ and the entire chain, from coast to coast, closes every Sunday. The chain explains these policies in expressly religious terms, citing “the company’s Corporate Purpose: To glorify God by being a faithful steward to all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”² The company accurately says its...


    • CHAPTER 8 Southern Eruptions in Asian American Narratives
      (pp. 219-244)
      Jennifer Ho

      During the first season of the popular animated television sitcom, King of the Hill,¹ the exchange above takes place among white Texans Hank Hill and Bill Dauterive, and their newly arrived Laotian American neighbor Kahn Souphanousinphone.² Meant to elicit laughter at the expense of ignorant white southerners, the exchange is an apt introduction to the ways in which Asian Americans in the South erupt in unpredictable ways. The conversation highlights the ethnic myopia of Hank and Bill, yet it also repeats (with a difference) a well-worn stereotype within Asian American life: the misunderstood foreigner.³ And yet the very presence of...

    • CHAPTER 9 “A Tennessean in an Unlikely Package”: The Stand-Up Comedy of Henry Cho
      (pp. 245-263)
      Jasmine Kar Tang

      I first heard Henry Cho over ten years ago at a Seattle comedy club. When Cho, who is Korean American, started his set, I was doubly struck by the sound of his voice—first because of his thick southern accent, and second because of its very familiarity. The setup to his opening joke then revealed that we shared the same hometown, and I was completely floored.¹ When I later introduced myself, Cho immediately asked, “What’s your last name?” a reflection of how few Asian American families there were in east Tennessee during our respective upbringings. Years later, Cho released a...

    • CHAPTER 10 “Like We Lost Our Citizenship”: Vietnamese Americans, African Americans, and Hurricane Katrina
      (pp. 264-288)
      Marguerite Nguyen

      In a convocation speech given at Tulane University on April 23, 1975, President Gerald Ford tied the history of New Orleans to the history of Vietnam, pointing toward a postwar future in which the Crescent City could serve as “the beacon light of the past” and “illuminate a boundless future for all Americans and a peace for all mankind.” Just as America’s 1815 victory at the Battle of New Orleans restored a national pride that was lost with the War of 1812, so could 1975 New Orleans take the lead in recuperating “the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam.”...

    (pp. 289-290)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 291-300)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-306)