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New Books in Asian American Studies

Author: Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Scholars of Asian America about their New Books

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121 Episodes
The cultural landscape plays a momentous role in the transmission of Christianity. Consequently, the global expansion of the church has led to the increasing diversification of world Christianity. As a result, scholars are turning more and more to native cultures as the point of focus. Understanding Korean Christianity: Grassroot Perspectives on Causes, Culture, and Responses (Pickwick, 2019) examines how this new discourse evolved as well as presenting a missional methodology based on the study of the native landscapes of Korea. Kale Yu argues that the process of formulating and communicating Christianity was less consistent than is usually supposed. By immersing the reader in the thought and lived experience of various Korean contexts, Professor Yu recreates the diversity of cultural landscapes experienced by Korean Christians of different periods in history. The result is a new interpretation of cross-cultural missional interactions. Byung Ho Choi is a Ph.D. Student from South Korea in the Department of History & Ecumenics, concentrating in World Christianity and history of religions at Princeton Theological Seminary. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
How do we understand our contemporary politics of race in historical, economical, and political context? How do we make sense of the Chinese Exclusion acts and ongoing racial discrimination? In Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad (HMH, 2019), Dr. Gordon H. Chang recovers the history of how thousands of immigrants from southern China came to work on the Transcontinental Railroad, at the time an essential American infrastructure and the second largest construction project in the world after the Suez Canal. Despite their contribution (they constituted 90% of the Central Pacific Railroad work force), Chinese workers were marginalized politically, socially, and economically in their time -- and in subsequent treatments of American labor and immigration history. But how to recount marginalization without objectifying the Chinese who built the railroads? Chang masterfully presents the story of 20,000 workers as lived experience. The Chinese are presented “not as voiceless objects of interest or docile human tools, but as vital, living, and feeling human beings who made history.” American history -- particularly our understanding of labor, immigration, and racism -- is incomplete without focusing on the Railroad Chinese. The book won The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Award for Literature and The Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book Award. Dr. Gordon H. Chang is the Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities and Professor of History at Stanford University (the university founded by Leland Stanford, head of the Central Pacific Railroad). He serves as Senior Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education co-directs the Chinese Railroad Workers in North American Project at Stanford. Dr. Chang is the author of Fateful Ties: A History of America's Preoccupation with China (Harvard University Press, 2015) and co-editor of The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad (Stanford University Press 2019) with Shelley Fisher Fishkin. Daniella Campos assisted with this podcast. Susan Liebell is an associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Why Diehard Originalists Aren’t Really Originalists recently appeared in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage and “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” was published in the Journal of Politics (July 2020). Email her comments at or tweet to @SusanLiebell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
In Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawai'i (Duke University Press, 2021), Candace Fujikane draws upon Hawaiian stories about the land and water and their impact upon Native Hawai'ian struggles to argue that Native economies of abundance provide a foundation for collective work against climate change. Fujikane contends that the practice of mapping abundance is a radical act in the face of settler capital's fear of an abundance that feeds. Cartographies of capital enable the seizure of abundant lands by enclosing "wastelands" claimed to be underdeveloped. By contrast, Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) cartographies map the continuities of abundant worlds. Vital to restoration movements is the art of kilo, intergenerational observation of elemental forms encoded in storied histories, chants, and songs. As a participant in these movements, Fujikane maps the ecological lessons of these elemental forms: reptilian deities who protect the waterways, sharks who swim into the mountains, the navigator Māui who fishes up the islands, the deities of snow and mists on Mauna Kea. The laws of these elements are now being violated by toxic waste dumping, leaking military jet fuel tanks, and astronomical-industrial complexes. As Kānaka Maoli and their allies stand as land and water protectors, Fujikane calls for a profound attunement to the elemental forms in order to transform climate events into renewed possibilities for planetary abundance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Welcome to The Academic Life. You are smart and capable, but you aren’t an island, and neither are we. So we reached across our mentor network to bring you podcasts on everything from how to finish that project, to how to take care of your beautiful mind. Wish we’d bring in an expert about something? Email us at or Find us on Twitter: The Academic Life @AcademicLifeNBN. In this episode you’ll hear about: social justice, chronic illness, the importance of self-advocacy and a support network, and what it’s like graduating from college and then applying to graduate school during a pandemic. Our guest is Amy Sumerfield, who describes herself like this: I am a 23 year old cisgendered woman living in Loveland, Colorado. I was born in South Korea and lived with a foster family there until I was five months old. I was eventually adopted by my current family where I then grew up in Boulder, Colorado. I am more than privileged to have the upbringing that I did and I would not be here today if it wasn't for their constant support. Growing up as an adoptee was certainly hard to process, and especially as I grew older, I began to struggle greatly with my multi intersectionality. Not only was I confused about my identity at the time, but I was also learning to live with an autoimmune disease - Lupus. I was diagnosed with Lupus when I was 11 years old, and having to limit my activity in an extremely active town was difficult and only added to my idea that I didn't fit in. It took a lot of ups and mostly downs for me to learn how to cope, but I eventually came out on a better end. I received my degrees in Social Work and Sociology from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado in August 2020 and am currently applying for my Masters in School Counseling. My goals are to take not only my educational background, but my personal experiences as well, to help advocate and support children and families in need. Although I had a very positive environment growing up, I had my own struggles and everyone does. Especially as children, they are extremely vulnerable and impressionable and I believe this is the most important time of their lives as it sets the foundation for their future and beyond. Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian of women and gender. She is Amy’s first cousin. Christina co-created the Academic Life channel with Dr. Dana Malone during the pandemic. Listeners to this episode might be interested in: National Counsel for Adoption Family Resources Healthy Place: Mental Health Resources The Lupus Initiative Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
This episode features three interviews with organizers and scholars concerned with Asian migrant sex work: SWAN Vancouver (Alison Clancey and Kelly Go), Dr. Lily Wong, and Dr. Yuri Doolan. On March 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long targeted three Atlanta-area spas and massage parlors and killed eight people: Delania Ashley Yuan González, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue. Six of these victims were Asian women. Within the days following the shooting, many groups representing women, Asian Americans, sex workers, and migrants, have collectively mourned and sent strength and solidarity to the eight victims and their families. This podcast episode seeks to express solidarity with these groups by highlighting the work of scholars and organizers who have been studying the racially encoded figures and the broader histories of Asian migrant sex work. We hope to give space here to understand how the violence that occurred on March 16 was imbricated within a racial capitalist structure that views Asian and Asian American women as disposable objects, a view that has been historically continuous with the histories of Chinese exclusion (initiated by fears of Chinese sex workers and yellow peril), and with over one hundred and fifty years of US imperialism in Asia, from the colonial theft of Hawai’i and the Philippine-American War to Japanese Incarceration, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and the growth of over eight-hundred military bases across the world. As the organizers and scholars interviewed here stress, it is crucial now to join groups local and international that stand for the decriminalization of migration and sex work, and to reject calls for hate-crime laws or anti-sex trafficking laws, or any legislation that would bring more policing, all of which would only make migrants and sex workers more vulnerable and stigmatized. Christopher B. Patterson is an Assistant Professor in the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
The Case for Identity Politics: Polarization, Demographic Change, and Racial Appeals (University of Virginia Press, 2020) dives into the discussion and debate surrounding the 2016 primary and how Donald Trump was ultimately nominated by the Republican Party to be their standard bearer and then elected president. But this is not the center of the book—though it is a very important data point. Christopher Stout, Associate Professor of Political Science at Oregon State University, came to this question about identity politics and how this understanding of rhetorical and political levers is at play with different groups of voters in the United States, through the work of Charles Hamilton and considerations of the idea of deracialized strategies in American politics. Hamilton, who has written a forward to The Case for Identity Politics, co-authored, with Kwame Toure, the 1967 text Black Power: The Politics of Liberation, bringing forward this deracialization thesis that provides the jumping off point for Stout’s research and analysis. Stout discusses this concept of the deracialization of political rhetoric and campaigns, especially by Democratic presidential candidates over the past thirty or forty years. The Case for Identity Politics explores the nuances of policy appeals that center on race and policy appeals that deracialize the policy itself. Stout, in examining these different paths over the past decades, also traces some of the changes within American political parties, most particularly within the parties themselves and whom the parties see and respond to as their base supporters. This is a rich, detailed, and methodologically diverse study of identity politics, and how identity, particularly racial identity, has worked within politics in the United States, operating differently at state/local levels and national levels. Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at or tweet to @gorenlj. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Many scholars have interrogated the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII – with an eye to understanding the particular type of racism that allowed the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt to punish based on heritage rather than any particular action or crime. Bradford Pearson’s new book The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America (Atria/Simon and Schuster, 2021) provides a political history of the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII by, first, going back in time to highlight the complex history of how Japanese (and Chinese) Americans first came to the West coast in the 17th century and the nuances of the racism they encountered over the centuries. Once Pearson establishes the origins of Anti-Asian-American racism, he follows several teenagers who played football both free and incarcerated. These nisei, American citizens of Japanese heritage, had their education and participation in a sport that has come to define what is “American” interrupted by the transports, relocations, and imprisonments that placed families in concentration camps across the United States. Pearson uses their role in a football team created in one concentration camp – Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Cody, Wyoming – to document racism and discrimination but also sports competition as a means of escapism and regaining dignity. Pearson, the former features editor of Southwest: The Magazine and a journalist who has published in the New York Times, Esquire, Time, and Salon, uses foundational works in history and political science, his own oral histories, government surveillance files, and archives associated with Heart Mountain, to create a relevant history for considering how we define citizenship in the U.S., the role of the legislature and courts in establishing and maintain white supremacy, American acceptance of incarceration based on race, and the importance of fully contextualizing American public figures such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Earl Warren. Susan Liebell is an associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Why Diehard Originalists Aren’t Really Originalists recently appeared in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage and “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” was published in the Journal of Politics (July 2020). Email her comments at or tweet to @SusanLiebell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
In this inaugural episode, we discuss a unique special issue of The Journal of Asian American Studies: #WeToo, a reader of Art, Poetry, Fiction, and Memoir, that seeks to answer the question, “What does sexual violence look like in the lives of those hailed as “model minority?” Intended as a reader for the college classroom, the #WeToo special issue contains works that make academic language and theories of sexual violence relevant and workable for our students’ understanding of their own lives and experiences. This episode features interviews with the issue editors, erin Khuê Ninh and Shireen Roshanravan, as well as with two contributors, James McMaster, and Mashuq Mushtaq Deen. The JAAS Podcast is a collaboration between the New Books Network and the Journal of Asian American Studies (JAAS) and is hosted by Chris Patterson (University of British Columbia). The Issue’s Companion Website on the Asian American Writers Workshop is here. Christopher B. Patterson is an Assistant Professor in the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
In the spring of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona and sent them to incarceration camps across the West. Nearly 14,000 of them landed on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming, at the base of Heart Mountain. Behind barbed wire fences, they faced racism, cruelty, and frozen winters. Trying to recreate comforts from home, many established Buddhist temples and sumo wrestling pits. Kabuki performances drew hundreds of spectators—yet there was little hope. That is, until the fall of 1943, when the camp’s high school football team, the Eagles, started its first season and finished it undefeated, crushing the competition from nearby, predominantly white high schools. Amid all this excitement, American politics continued to disrupt their lives as the federal government drafted men from the camps for the front lines—including some of the Eagles. As the team’s second season kicked off, the young men faced a choice to either join the Army or resist the draft. Teammates were divided, and some were jailed for their decisions. Bradford Pearson's The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration and Resistance in World War II America (Atria, 2021) honors the resilience of extraordinary heroes and the power of sports in a sweeping and inspirational portrait of one of the darkest moments in American history. Paul Knepper used to cover the Knicks for Bleacher Report. His first book, The Knicks of the Nineties: Ewing, Oakley, Starks and the Brawlers That Almost Won It All was published in September 2020. You can reach Paul at and follow him on Twitter @paulieknep. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
As right-wing nationalism and authoritarian populism gain momentum across the world, liberals, and even some conservatives, worry that democratic principles are under threat. In The Spectre of Race: How Discrimination Haunts Western Democracy (Princeton UP, 2018), Michael Hanchard argues that the current rise in xenophobia and racist rhetoric is nothing new and that exclusionary policies have always been central to democratic practices since their beginnings in classical times. Contending that democracy has never been for all people, Hanchard discusses how marginalization is reinforced in modern politics, and why these contradictions need to be fully examined if the dynamics of democracy are to be truly understood. Hanchard identifies continuities of discriminatory citizenship from classical Athens to the present and looks at how democratic institutions have promoted undemocratic ideas and practices. The longest-standing modern democracies —France, Britain, and the United States—profited from slave labor, empire, and colonialism, much like their Athenian predecessor. Hanchard follows these patterns through the Enlightenment and to the states and political thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and he examines how early political scientists, including Woodrow Wilson and his contemporaries, devised what Hanchard has characterized as “racial regimes” to maintain the political and economic privileges of dominant groups at the expense of subordinated ones. Exploring how democracies reconcile political inequality and equality, Hanchard debates the thorny question of the conditions under which democracies have created and maintained barriers to political membership. Showing the ways that race, gender, nationality, and other criteria have determined a person’s status in political life, The Spectre ofRace offers important historical context for how democracy generates political difference and inequality. Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
This unique episode features a dual/duel interview with two authors whose recent books focus on the overlapping contexts and theories of Game Studies and Asian American Studies. The first is Tara Fickle and her book The Race Card: From Gaming Technologies to Model Minorities (NYU Press, 2019), which investigates the ways Asian Americans have had to fit roles, play games, and follow rules in order to be seen as valuable in the US. The second author is Christopher B. Patterson, who discusses his book Open World Empire: Race, Erotics, and the Global Rise of Empire (NYU Press, 2020), which asks similar questions to theorize ways of seeing games as queer erotics, as expressions of empire, and as withholding “The Asiatic.” During this duel/dual interview, each author asks the other questions about their books, with the goal of having a broader conversation about the various concepts that both books play with. Christopher B. Patterson is an Assistant Professor in the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Intertwining autobiography and ethnography, Clara Han’s touching new book Seeing Like a Child: Inheriting the Korean War (Fordham University Press, 2020) asks how scholarship can be transformed from a child’s perspective. Through a critique of anthropological practices that assume fully formed “I” in its emphasis on self-reflexivity as well as the prioritization of pre-established epistemological categories in the scholarship on transgenerational trauma, Han shows how distinction between historical and ordinary events breaks down as the violence of war is seeped into everyday lives. The make-believe world interlocks with mundane details of the everyday as a child constructs the world around them through languages that are differently encoded with trauma and joy from the legacy of the war. Divided into four parts, “Part I: Loss and Awakenings” enters into how the trauma of father’s isan kajok (dispersed families) intersect with the memories of illness and affliction of Han’s mother. “Part II: A Future in Kinship, a Future in Language” depicts the process of reconnecting with kin through language while “Part III: The Kids” discusses how sibling relations play an integral role in the inheritance of the Korean War. “Part IV: Mother Tongue” delves into Han’s daughter’s learning about death, loss, and affliction through Han’s father. “Epilogue” further asks how the process of inheriting the trauma of war is gendered and how self-knowledge can lead to anthropological knowledge. Han’s beautifully written and insightful work will be helpful for scholars who are thinking critically about boundaries of knowledge and disciplines, transgenerational trauma and war, and the formation of diasporic communities. Clara Han is Associate Professor of Anthropology at John Hopkins University. Her research interests include care and violence, the catastrophic and the everyday, and kinship relations in Chile and South Korea. Da In Ann Choi is a PhD student at UCLA in the Gender Studies department. Her research interests include care labor and migration, reproductive justice, social movement, citizenship theory, and critical empire studies. She can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Can we ever overcome the epistemological barrier to conceptualizing Asian women not as particular cases but as theories, and can women of color academics be heard in this process? This is one of the central questions Laura Hyun Yi Kang grapples with in her groundbreaking book, Traffic in Asian Women (Duke University Press, 2020).  Kang, in conversation with works such as Kuan-Hsing Chen’s Asia as Method: Towards Deimperialization, contests the uses of Asian women as a bounded unit of knowledge and proposes “start[ing] off from ‘Asian women’ as an imperial effect and multivalent discourse of intra-Asian contestation and transpacific nonknowing” (35). Contesting the limitation of rendering a generalized group as a bounded unit legible for academics’ expertise and dissection, Kang proceeds to examine “unexpected transfigurations” and “investments in sympathies” of Asian women in three categories that became important for knowledge dissemination within and by the universities, NGOs and UN agencies: “Traffic in women,” “sexual slavery,” and “violence against women.” Further, Kang critically analyzes how the contours of human rights and women’s rights discourses as well as political economy shaped compensation, truth disclosure, and memorialization of “comfort women” transnationally. Through the figure of Asian women, Kang critiques the ways in which capitalist and imperialist global governance has shaped international justice and discourses of redress, drawing a boundary in the knowledge production of Asian women in their complexity, nuance, and unknowability. Kang's work is critical for any scholars who are interested in the questions of interdisciplinarity, critical area and empire studies, justice, transnational feminism, critical university studies, cultural production and social movement.  Laura Hyun Yi Kang is a Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at University of California, Irvine. Her previous book, which contends with the problem of disciplinarity, is Compositional Subjects: Enfiguring Asian/American Women (Duke University Press, 2002) and lays out some of the grounds of the discussions that continues in her new book, Traffic in Asian Women.  Da In Ann Choi is a PhD student at UCLA in the Gender Studies department. Her research interests include care labor and migration, reproductive justice, social movement, citizenship theory, and critical empire studies. She can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Enter the Wu-Tang. Return to the 36 Chambers. People listening to these albums by the Wu-Tang Clan and its members likely never knew about Sophia Chang: a Korean-Canadian woman who worked with members like RZA, ODB and Method Man. Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest called Sophia Chang “an integral part of the golden era of hip-hop.” The Baddest Bitch in the Room (Catapult, 2020) charts Sophia Chang’s life, from her childhood in Vancouver, through time in New York’s hip-hop scene and travels between the United States and China managing martial arts, through to the present day. Sophia Chang is the music business matriarchitect who managed Ol’ Dirty Bastard, RZA, GZA, D’Angelo, Raphael Saadiq, Q Tip, and A Tribe Called Quest as well as working with Paul Simon. She did marketing at Atlantic, A&R at Jive, A&R Admin at Universal, as well as serving as General Manager of RZA’s Razor Sharp Records, Cinematic Music Group, and Joey Bada$$’ Pro Era Records. Sophia is currently a screenwriter and author developing numerous TV properties, including a scripted series at FX based on her memoir “The Baddest Bitch in the Room”. She trained with and managed a Shaolin Monk, who became her partner and father of her children. She produced runway shows for Vivienne Tam and "Project Runway All Stars," and recently created Unlock Her Potential, a program that provides mentorship for women of color. In this interview, Sophia and I talk about her life: her time in the music business, her relationship with hip-hop, and her transition to martial arts and other cultural activities. We talk about what spurred her to tell her own story, and what it was like to be an Asian woman working in these spaces. You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, where you can find its review of The Baddest Bitch in the Room. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
The Peculiar Afterlife of Slavery: The Chinese Worker and the Minstrel Form (Stanford University Press, 2020) explores how antiblack racism lived on through the figure of the Chinese worker in US literature after emancipation. Drawing out the connections between this liminal figure and the formal aesthetics of blackface minstrelsy in literature of the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras, Caroline H. Yang reveals the ways antiblackness structured US cultural production during a crucial moment of reconstructing and re-narrating US empire after the Civil War. Ultimately, The Peculiar Afterlife of Slavery shows how the Chinese worker manifests the inextricable links between US literature, slavery, and empire, as well as the indispensable role of antiblackness as a cultural form in the United States. Dr. Caroline Yang is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) is a PhD candidate in Musicology at Florida State University. She is currently working on a dissertation about parade musics in Mobile, Alabama’s Carnival celebrations.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
In a bustling city-center of Seoul, women in yellow vests protesting over the “final” resettlement between the Japanese and Korean governments every Wednesday is an iconic sight, testifying to the strength and resilience of the “comfort women” movement. In her award-winning book Embodied Reckonings: “Comfort Women,” Performance, and Transpacific Redress (University of Michigan Press, 2018), Elizabeth Son examines a long neglected aspect of the “comfort women” advocacy movement: embodied practices of the former “comfort women” and activists as they protest against the historical amnesia of sexual slavery. Through a transpacific framework, Son shows how the “comfort women” movement holds Asian American and Asian activists together as they collectively address America’s imperialist past and seek redress against militarized sexual violence. Son’s monograph takes the reader to the materiality, physicality, and aurality of the Wednesday demonstrations as the collective presence of former “comfort women” and activists refuse the label “post” of post-colonial, and counter the forced historical amnesia of “comfort women” history. Son further examines the testimonies of “comfort women” during the Women’s Tribunal, which was organized transnationally to highlight the failure of Tokyo Tribunal and other international organizations in recognizing sexual slavery as a crime. Transpacific redressive theater further critiques cultural amnesia, and transpacific memorials connect “comfort women” from formerly colonized nations as well as Japan to rise in solidarity against the universal atrocity of the war. In examining embodied aspects of transpacific redress of the “comfort women” movement, Son’s work asks important questions surrounding the limits/possibilities of transpacific alliances, historical erasure of sexual slavery and the violent legacy of militarized imperialism. Elizabeth Son is Associate Professor and the Director of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama (IPTD) Program at Northwestern University. She was an inaugural Mellon/ACLS Scholars & Society fellow, and was a scholar-in-residence at KAN-WIN: Empowering Women in the Asian American Community. She continues to partner with KAN-WIN as a crisis hotline volunteer and co-founding member of their “comfort women” justice advocacy team. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
In Writing Across the Color Line: U.S. Print Culture and the Rise of Ethnic Literature, 1877-1920 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020), Lucas A. Dietrich investigates how ethnic literatures took shape in the U.S. context and how writers of color intervened in the “mainstream” writing. Interestingly, this intervention was framed through specific genres and techniques, including satire and parody towards the mainstream narratives. The book brings our attention to the most prominent ethnic writings of the second half of the nineteenth century while taking into consideration the negotiations in which both the writers and the publishers participated. What is compelling about this research is the dialogical approach that Dietrich undertakes to explore the ways in which the ethnic writers were, in fact, accepted into what could be described as the dominant mainstream writing of white writers. Writing Across the Color Line contains rich materials which demonstrate not only how the writers of color established dialogue with the leading publishing venues, but also how their works shaped the American readership of the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Dietrich also offers his insights concerning the influences of the nineteenth-century ethnic writers on their counterparts of the twentieth century. In this regard, Writing Across the Color Line: U.S. Print Culture and the Rise of Ethnic Literature, 1877-1920 is a thought-provoking commentary on multiethnic literature in the U.S. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
The image of the US as leading a good war to establish liberal democracy and move towards racial equality dominate the discourses of the Cold War. In her work, A Violent Peace: Race, U.S. Militarism, and Cultures of Democratization in Cold War Asia and the Pacific (Stanford University Press, 2020), Christine Hong attempts to debunk the idea of good war and warfare-welfare state that allowed women and racial minorities to participate in national politics by showing how the US government was able to launch total war that blurred the boundaries of home and abroad through the “principle of indistinction.” The supposed blurring of colorline through military desegregation and multilateral, multi-racial alliances hid fortification of the US empire as necropolitical war target broadened through indistinction of civilian, women, and children as possible enemies. The US counterinsurgency eroded democratizing, decolonizing movements abroad based on color lines, and rhetorical racial equality at home was accompanied by increased policing of “high-crime” areas where minorities resided. Hong theorizes a range of struggles such as Black freedom, Asian liberation, and decolonization as “homologous responses to unchecked US war and police power at home and abroad… [The] alignment, participation, and complicity with the US military… blurred the color line, giving a redemptive liberal veneer to US war politics in Asia and the Pacific” (8-9). Through rich analyses of literary texts of Ralph Ellison, Carlos Bulosan, and James Baldwin, Hong examines how POC authors contested the promise of liberal democracy while military-industrial complex and colonial violence sought to erase decolonizing struggles. Hong further draws attention to commercialization of hibakusha’s bodies as well as photographs of Miné Okubo to critique the construction of peace as American property. Hong’s groundbreaking work spans Asian American studies, critical Asian studies, and critical empire studies, challenging us to question the modernity that had been presented to us through seeming homogeneity of American liberal democratic ideals. Christine Hong is Associate Professor of Literature at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include transnational Asian American, Korean diaspora, U.S. war and empire, and comparative ethnic studies. She is also a board member of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute, a coordinating committee member of the National Campaign to End the Korean War, and a member of the Working Group on Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific. She is currently organizing a teaching initiative to end the Korean War. Da In Choi is a PhD student at UCLA in the Gender Studies department. Her research interests include reproductive justice movement, care labor and migration, affect theory, citizenship, and critical empire studies. She can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
In Camps: Vietnamese Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Repatriates (University of California Press, 2020) is an in-depth study of the fate of the nearly 800,000 Vietnamese refugees who left their country by boat, and sought refugee in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The experiences of these populations and the subsequent policies remain relevant today; Who is a refugee? Who determines their status? And how does it change over time? Jana K. Lipman takes the reader to visit camps in Guam, Malaysia, the Phillipines and Hong Kong, drawing out the politics, policies and how these impacted refugees rights to remain, be resettled or repatriated. She draws out the tensions between the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the US government, drawing into focus the direct impact this had on the day-to-day lives of those stuck in camps. Her research is the first major work to pay close attention to first-landing host sites, with particular emphasis on Vietnamese activism in the camps and as part of the diaspora. The work will unsettle conventionally accepted accounts of Southeast Asian migration to the US. It reveals how first asylum seeker sites caused UNHCR to reshape international refugee policy. It is a gripping read; historical and also somewhat anthropological, it raises concerns of humanitarianism, human rights and Asian American studies to confront the legal and moral dilemmas, and the obligations that continue to face the US and all host countries of refugees and asylum seekers. It causes the reader to recall the humanity of those seeking asylum, and question current government policies. Though the plight of the Vietnamese refugees is specific, the human need for certainty and safety are universal. This is essential reading in relation to any refugee policy, and human rights and humanitarianism more broadly. Jana K. Lipman is an Associate Professor of History at Tulane University. She is a scholar of U.S. foreign relations, U.S. immigration, and labor history. Her first book was Guantánamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution.  Jane Richards is a doctoral candidate in Human Rights Law at the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include disability, equality, criminal law and civil disobedience. You can find her on twitter @JaneRichardsHK where she avidly follows the Hong Kong’s protests and its politics.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
When Jeremy Lin shot (pardon the pun) to stardom with his unexpected scoring run with the New York Knickerbockers in 2012 many aficionados of basketball were surprised that an Asian American (Lin is of Taiwanese extraction) played this sport at such a high level. While “Linsanity” did not last, it fueled important questions about the relationship between a particular community and a sport that, at least at the collegiate and professional levels, does not feature many players of this specific ethnic background. While the NBA is not overcrowded with players of Asian descent, the sport is quite popular in places like China (not without controversy, however) and elsewhere in Asia. What roles has the game played in the lives of individuals and communities of Asian Americans in the United States? The answer to that question can be found in Joel Franks’ wonderful monograph Asian American Basketball: A Century of Sport, Community and Culture (McFarland, 2016). The historical record of the sport in Asian American communities, on both coasts, is extensive and of great significance. The sport permitted athletes of such backgrounds with an opportunity to travel and compete against teams of other ethnic groups. More importantly, it permitted both young men and women with a chance to challenge stereotypical notions held about Asian Americans. Franks’ work takes readers from cities such as Seattle and Boston, to the camps for Japanese Americans during World War II, to the hardwoods of high schools, colleges, and yes, even the NBA. All told, the story is similar to works such as that by Ignacio Garcia (who writes about basketball and Mexican Americans in Texas) in that it demonstrates that communities of different backgrounds have utilized “American” games in ways to claim citizenship, space, and recognition within US society. In this regard, as Frank argues, this work continues the process of democratizing US sports history. There is more to this story than the black/white dichotomy (though it is, no doubt, critical). There have been “other” athletes participating in “our” games; and using them not only for recreation, but for their own communal and social purposes. This work adds yet one more layer to the story of American sport. Jorge Iber is a professor of history at Texas Tech University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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