Asian American Theology
ANDREW SUNG PARK
Asian American life is marked by memory of trauma and discrimination: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; the Immigration Act of 1924, including the Asian Exclusion Act; and the Japanese American Internment during World War II. Activism and liberation movements, such as the civil rights movement and the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, would begin to crack the structures of oppression. However, signs of progress were not indicative of racial harmony among minoritized and marginalized groups. In 1992, as but one example, the Los Angeles South Central eruptions targeted and completely burned down over two thousand Korean American and other Asian American small business shops.
It was in light of both violent conflict and moments of progress that Asian American theology emerged. Clear markers of this new theological discourse include the establishment of the Pacific and Asian American Center for Theology and Strategies (PACTS) in Berkeley in 1972, the Center for Pacific and Asian American Ministries in 1976, and the formation of the PANA Institute (Institute for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific and Asian North American Religion) in 2002.
Several other Asian American centers and programs have emerged and actively served Asian American academic and ecclesial communities: the AsianAmerican Ministries Center at Garrett Evangelical Seminary (1984); the Center for Asian American Ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary, Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC) (2005); and programs for Asian American ministries and theology hosted by major theological seminaries such as Princeton Theological Seminary and Brite Divinity School.
Situated in multicultural soil, Asian American theologians have reflected on their experiences of racial and cultural discrimination and have critically