Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Here is a list of some of our favorite titles, featuring a diverse range of Asian and Pacific Islander American voices and stories. Be sure to check out our series on The Asian American Experience for even more titles.

Queering the Global Filipina Body: Contested Nationalisms in the Filipina/o Diaspora

By Gina K. Velasco

Contemporary popular culture stereotypes Filipina women as sex workers, domestic laborers, mail order brides, and caregivers. These figures embody the gendered and sexual politics of representing the Philippine nation in the Filipina/o diaspora. Using a queer diasporic analysis, Velasco asks: can a queer and feminist imagining of the diaspora reconcile with gendered tropes of the Philippine nation?

Available in November 2020

“Racial Calculations: Indian and Pakistani Immigrants in Houston, 1960-1980”

By Uzma Quraishi

Highly educated Indian and Pakistani immigrants arrived in Houston in the 1960s and 1970s, readily securing employment as engineers or other white-collar professionals. At the same time, they faced racism in housing, the workplace, university campuses, and restaurants. Quraishi examines how this “conditional inclusion” impacted the lives of Asians in the American South.

Disrupting Kinship: Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the United States

By Kimberly D. McKee

Since the Korean War began, Western families have adopted more than 200,000 Korean children. The majority joined white families and in the process forged a new kind of transnational and transracial kinship. McKee examines the growth of the neocolonial, multi-million-dollar global industry that shaped these families—a system she identifies as the transnational adoption industrial complex. 

“Transnational Migrations and YouTube Sensations: Korean Americans, Popular Music, and Social Media”

By Eun-Young Jung

Looking at the careers of three Korean American musicians, two of whom have extensive social media presence, Jung demonstrates how these media, particularly YouTube, provides equalizing opportunities that are enabling some to circumvent racial barriers that have long existed and still persist in the major music and entertainment industries in the United States.

Raced to Death in 1920s Hawai’i: Injustice and Revenge in the Fukunaga Case

By Jonathan Y. Okamura

On September 18, 1928, Myles Yutaka Fukunaga kidnapped and brutally murdered ten-year-old George Gill Jamieson in Waikîkî. Fukunaga confessed to the crime. Within three weeks, authorities had convicted him and sentenced him to hang, despite questions about Fukunaga’s sanity and a deeply flawed defense by his court-appointed attorneys. Okamura argues that officials “raced” him to death—falsely claiming that the law was colorblind and instead giving into the white community’s need for revenge.

“Transpacific Camptowns: Korean Women, US Army Bases, and Military Prostitution in America”

By Yuri W. Doolan

When the US began sending their troops home from Korea in the 1970’s, establishments in the military prostitution industry sent madams and sex workers with them. Doolan follows these women’s experiences in the US militarized South, exploring how the proliferation of illicit massage businesses was a transnational outgrowth of military prostitution encouraged by the US military in South Korea.

Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental”

By Amy Sueyoshi

Sueyoshi draws on everything from newspapers to felony case files to oral histories in order to examine how whites’ pursuit of gender and sexual fulfillment gave rise to racial caricatures. As she reveals, white reporters, writers, artists, and others conflated Chinese and Japanese, previously seen as two races, into one. There emerged the Oriental—a single pan-Asian American stereotype weighted with sexual and gender meaning. 

“Understanding Identity Making in the Context of Sociopolitical Involvement among Asian and Pacific Islander American Lesbian and Bisexual Women”

By Juan Battle, Angelique Harris, Vernisa Donaldson and Omar Mushtaq

Drawing from a study on 175 lesbian and bisexual Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, Battle, Harris, Donaldson, and Mushtag examine the intersection of sexuality, ethnicity, and gender and how it impacts involvement in minority communities.

Muncie, India(na): Middletown and Asian America

By Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Gupta-Carlson puts forth an essential question: what do nonwhites, non-Christians, and/or non-natives mean when they call themselves American? A daughter in one of Muncie, Indiana’s first Indian American families, Gupta-Carlson merges personal experience, the life histories of others, and critical analysis to explore the answers. 

“Manila Prepares for Independence: Filipina/o Campaigns for US Citizenship and the Reorienting of American Ethnic Histories”

By Jane Hong

Hong examines the role of the Philippine Commonwealth Government in the provisions that make Filipina/os eligible for US citizenship. She argues that Philippine officials in Manila recognized that Filipina/o American communities would be vital to the state-building projects that followed independence. More broadly, it foregrounds decolonization and the dismantling of formal empire as important levers of US exclusion repeal toward Asian peoples.

Asianfail: Narratives of Disenchantment and the Model Minority

By Eleanor Ty

The model minority myth hurts Asian Americans and Asian Canadians by putting unrealistic expectations on their intelligence and their behaviors, with outsiders and peers alike putting pressures on them to be a certain way. Ty’s bold exploration of literature, plays, and film reveals how Asian Americans and Asian Canadians have struggled with the expectations, work ethic, and self-sacrifice preached by their parents.

“From Rebounds to Three-Pointers: Linsanity, Racial Insults, and Stereotypes in Flux”

By Margaret Magat

Jeremy Lin’s presence in the National Basketball Association has sparked an invaluable discussion involving insider/outsider folklore, cultural politics, and stereotypes. Looking at Lin’s “Linderella” story, Magat investigates how “Linsanity” is a pivotal event from which one can examine the continuing prevalence of racist folklore about Asian Americans while exploring the cultural shifts that are occurring.

Becoming Refugee American: The Politics of Rescue in Little Saigon

By Phuong Tran Nguyen

Vietnamese refugees fleeing the fall of South Vietnam faced a paradox. The same guilt-ridden America that only reluctantly accepted them expected, and rewarded, expressions of gratitude for their rescue. Meanwhile, their status as refugees—as opposed to willing immigrants—profoundly influenced their cultural identity. Nguyen examines the phenomenon of refugee nationalism among Vietnamese Americans in Southern California.

“‘John Chinaman’ in Alabama: Immigration, Race, and Empire in the New South, 1870–1920”

By Jennifer Brooks

In this essay, Brooks follows the Chinese workers that were responsible for a significant part of the Alabama-Chattanooga Railroad Project. Aside from their work on the railroad, these workers helped to diversify the post-Civil War South and connected Alabama to an imperial labor market and all the instability that entailed.

Chinatown Opera Theater in North America

By Nancy Yunhwa Rao

The Chinatown opera house provided Chinese immigrants with an essential source of entertainment during the pre–World War II era. But its stories of loyalty, obligation, passion, and duty also attracted diverse patrons into Chinese American communities. Rao tells the story of iconic theater companies and the networks and migrations that made Chinese opera a part of North American cultures.

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