Margins and Mainstreams: Asians in American History and Culture

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University of Washington Press, 1994 - History - 203 pages
In a thoughtful and stimulating contribution to the current debate about the meaning to the larger society of multiculturalism, Gary Okihiro explores the significance of Asian Americans in American history and culture. In six provocative and engaging essays he examines the Asian American experience from the perspectives of historical consciousness, race, gender, class, and culture. Much talk these days revolves around the idea of the mainstream, about the core of American history and culture, and about the dangers of straying from the original formulations that have made this country great. Pluralism and diversity, many argue, only serve to divide and fracture the nation. The core, rooted in Western civilization and the canon of "great books" must be recovered and preserved, and those on the margins, most notably racial minorities, must be absorbed into the mainstream. Or so the argument goes. Margins and Mainstreams argues that the core values and ideals of the nation emanate today not from the so-called mainstream but from the margins, from among Asian and African Americans, Latinos and American Indians, and women. Those groups, in their struggles for equality, have helped to preserve and advance the founders' ideals and have made America a more democratic place for all. While exploring anew the meanings of Asian American social history, the book reexamines the intellectual foundations and assumptions of the field of Asian American studies. It exposes the dominance of Eurocentrism and other hierarchies in the major theories that inform the field. It contextualizes the Asian American experience with that of African Americans and Latinos, and it advocates the intellectual convergence of Asian, Asian American, and African American studies.
 

Contents

When and Where I Enter
3
Is Yellow Black or White?
31
Recentering Women
64
Family Album History
93
Perils of the Body and Mind
118
BIBLIOGRAPHY
177
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About the author (1994)

Gary Y. Okihiro is emeritus professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University.