Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas

Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas

Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas

Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas

Synopsis

Asians have settled in every country in the Western Hemisphere; some are recent arrivals, other descendents of immigrants who arrived centuries ago. Bringing together essays by thirteen scholars from the humanities and social sciences, Displacements and Diasporas explores this genuinely transnational Asian American experience-one that crosses the Pacific and traverses the Americas from Canada to Brazil, from New York to the Caribbean.

With an emphasis on anthropological and historical contexts, the essays show how the experiences of Asians across the Americas have been shaped by the social dynamics and politics of settlement locations as much as by transnational connections and the economic forces of globalization. Contributors bring new insights to the unique situations of Asian communities previously overlooked by scholars, such as Vietnamese Canadians and the Lao living in Rhode Island. Other topics include Chinese laborers and merchants in Latin America and the Caribbean, Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Brazil, Afro-Amerasians in America, and the politics of second-generation Indian American youth culture.

Together the essays provide a valuable comparative portrait of Asians across the Americas. Engaging issues of diaspora, transnational social practice and community building, gender, identity, institutionalized racism, and deterritoriality, this volume presents fresh perspectives on displacement, opening the topic up to a wider, more interdisciplinary terrain of inquiry and teaching.

Excerpt

Wanni W. anderson and robert G. lee

We arrived after the Statue of Liberty celebrated her 100th birthday and
was polished to look new. We are people of the next century. We are
many different peoples and most of us can be polished and made to look
like new.

—Quan Nguyen, in John Tenhula, Voices from Southeast Asia, 1991

My eyes hurt from straining under poor lighting; my throat hurt because
of the chemical fumes from the fabric dyes…. My back never stopped
hurting from bending over the sewing machine all day…. There was a
sign in the shop that said, “No loud talking. You cannot go the bath
room.”… Last year my employer closed his shop and left us holding bad
paychecks. the twelve Chinese seamstresses including myself were so
mad.

—Fu Lee, Hong Kong immigrant, in Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts, 1996

Once we accept the actual configuration of literary experiences overlap
ping with one another and interdependent, despite national boundaries
and coercively legislated national autonomies, history and geography are
transfigured in new maps in new and far less stable entities, in new types
of connections.

—Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, 1993

With an optimistic nod toward the new millennium, Quan Nguyen voices the hopes of a newly arrived Vietnamese, one of almost half a million refugees from the wars in Southeast Asia. Quan Nguyen and many other immigrants from Asia have imagined the Americas as the new “land of opportunity,” the “Golden Mountains,” or a “safe haven.” As Mrs. Fu Lee, an immigrant seamstress from Hong Kong testifies, however, for large numbers of them the realities of life and . . .

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