Asian American Panethnicity: Bridging Institutions and Identities
With different histories, cultures, languages, and separate identities, most Americans of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and Vietnamese origin are lumped together and viewed by other Americans simply as Asian Americans. Since the mid-1960s however, these different Asian American groups have come together to promote and protect both their individual and their united interests. The first book to examine this particular subject, Asian American Panethnicity is a highly detailed case study of how, and with what success, diverse national-origin groups can come together as a new, enlarged panethnic group. Yen Le Espiritu believes tensions exist within the Asian community and between the Asian community and outsiders and she seeks to explain both. She discusses how Asian American panethnicity was able to develop only after the myriad groups of immigrants had children who were born in the United States. No longer separated by old world political conflicts, languages, and customs, these younger Asian Americans could see the political necessity and social advantages of uniting and speaking with one voice. However, the influx of the post-1965 Asian immigrants and refugees has exacerbated intergroup divisions, making it difficult to unite. The author, a Vietnamese American married to a Filipino American, explores the construction of large-scale affiliations, in which previously unrelated groups submerge their differences and assume a common identity. Making use of extensive interviews and statistical data, she examines how Asian panethnicity protects the rights and interests of all Asian American groups, including those, like the Vietnamese and Cambodians, who are less powerful and prominent than the Chinese and Japanese. By citing specific examples--educational discrimination, legal redress, anti-Asian violence, the development of Asian American Studies programs, social services, and affirmative action--the author demonstrates how Asian Americans came to understand that only by cooperating with each other would they succeed in fighting the racism they all faced.
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