Flashpoints for Asian American Studies

Flashpoints for Asian American Studies

Flashpoints for Asian American Studies

Flashpoints for Asian American Studies

Synopsis

Emerging from mid-century social movements, Civil Rights Era formations, and anti-war protests, Asian American studies is now an established field of transnational inquiry, diasporic engagement, and rights activism. These histories and origin points analogously serve as initial moorings for Flashpoints for Asian American Studies, a collection that considers-almost fifty years after its student protest founding--the possibilities of and limitations inherent in Asian American studies as historically entrenched, politically embedded, and institutionally situated interdiscipline. Unequivocally, Flashpoints for Asian American Studies investigates the multivalent ways in which the field has at times and--more provocatively, has not--responded to various contemporary crises, particularly as they are manifest in prevailing racist, sexist, homophobic, and exclusionary politics at home, ever-expanding imperial and militarized practices abroad, and neoliberal practices in higher education.

Excerpt

In April 1969, five UCLA students—Mike Murase, Dinora Gil, Laura Ho, Colin Watanabe, and Tracy Okida—founded Gidra, a radical monthly newspaper envisioned as a politically progressive, open forum for Asian American activists, authors, and artists. Christened by its creators as the “Voice of the Asian American Movement,” Gidra—which ran from 1969 until April 1974—unfailingly showcased articles that meditated on systemic oppression at home and critiqued U.S. imperialism abroad. It likewise featured pieces that considered the possibility of cross-racial solidarities alongside the challenges of such work due to internalized racism and mainstream model minoritization. Concurrent with the West Coast institutionalization of ethnic studies as an interdisciplinary field of race-based inquiry, and coherent with the interdiscipline’s rallying cry of “making education relevant,” Gidra capaciously anticipated and significantly reflected the ways in which Asian America (as legible demographic and identifiable communal formation) was from the outset a distinctly political and expressly migratory project. On the one hand, Gidra’s reportage concerning anti-Asian racism, post-1965 Hart-Celler Act xenophobia, racialized U.S. foreign policy, people of color solidarities, and Yellow Power activism . . .

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