Samosa Caucus: Indian Americans in US Congress are emerging as a power bloc

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2017-05-14 22:41Z by Steven

Samosa Caucus: Indian Americans in US Congress are emerging as a power bloc

Hindustan Times
New Delhi, India

Yashwant Raj, U.S. Correspondent

Potentially presidential: Congresswoman Kamala Harris. (File photo)

A new power bloc rises in the US. Can an Indian American some day be president of the United States?

As the young Congressman peered intently at the faces of Indian Americans around him in a small, crowded hall inside the Indian embassy in downtown DC, he felt a rush of emotion; he felt beholden to them. “I stand on your shoulders to be in the United States Congress,” he said, tapping the podium, as was his habit, with his pen. “Please visit me in our office; my office is your office, and anything you need on any issue, you come to us and we will help you. Pramila, me, Ami, Ro and everyone else – we are at your service.” He calls them the “Samosa Caucus”.

That was Raja Krishnamurthi, one of five Indian Americans elected to the US Congress that started its 115th two-year term in 2017. The three he mentioned by their first names were Pramila Jayapal, Ami Bera and Ro Khanna – all elected to the House of Representatives – and Kamala Harris, the one he missed, is the fifth of the group and the first American of Indian descent elected to the Senate.

They are all Democrats, relatively young – with Bera, Harris and Jayapal the oldest, at 51 – and brimming with hope, plans and ambition. They made history in the past election by winning in record numbers. They are now caucusing as a group in the US legislature in the tradition of India Caucus, the Black Caucus and various other groupings, which, however, are officially recognised as such.

The Samosa Caucus is not there yet, but a beginning has been made…

Read the entire article here.

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Youth and Empire: Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia by David Pomfret (review)

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive on 2017-05-14 22:16Z by Steven

Youth and Empire: Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia by David Pomfret (review)

The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth
Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 2017
pages 271-273

Molly J. Giblin, Instructor
University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee

Youth and Empire: Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia.
By David Pomfret.
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015. 416pp. Cloth $65.

While colonial cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Saigon, and Hanoi were home to relatively small numbers of Europeans in comparison to the settler colonies of Algeria, Australia, or New Zealand, David Pomfret’s Youth and Empire argues that childhood in these spaces served as a touchstone upon which regimes of race and hierarchies of power were negotiated. Pomfret’s sociocultural history explores the role of childhood in British and French colonial urban centers in Asia. Because youth epitomized both the physical and figurative vulnerability of Europeans in the tropics, attempts to regulate childhood mirrored the efforts of French and British colonial authorities to safeguard the future of a European project in the East. Colonial subjects used childhood, children, and child-rearing to delineate boundaries of identity, thus bringing together everyday life and high-level policymaking.

Pomfret builds upon work by such scholars as Ann Laura Stoler, Elizabeth Buettner, Julia Clancy Smith, and Frances Gouda, who have articulated how imperial authority pivoted around constellations of sex, gender, domesticity, and the family. He unites the children of the colonized and of colonizers within a single but capacious analytical framework that allows him to contrast the productive (but potentially dangerous) malleability of the European child with the perpetual infantilization of Asian colonial subjects. Pomfret examines how childhood itself was at the fulcrum of the European colonial project in Asia because it worked in tandem with parallel hierarchies of race, gender, and civilization. The scope of the project—stretching between two empires and across spaces within them—creates a challenge that Pomfret rises to meet. He recognizes that conceptions of childhood were constructed and shifting within Europe as well as in its overseas territories. Nonetheless, he manages to draw broad conclusions across imperial lines while pointing to moments of divergence, showing how local cultures weighed differently upon the demands of colonial prestige, expectations of age, and racial seclusion. In an anthropologically informed argument, he demonstrates that confluences in policy and perception were due in part to cross-cultural perceptions of youth, but more importantly, grew out of pan-imperial conversations about whiteness, race, and cultural hygiene.

Pomfret’s wide-ranging study is based upon artful readings of published and archival sources that span the globe and two centuries of colonial history. Because Pomfret evaluates childhood from the standpoint of colonial management, potential paths of inquiry remain somewhat underdeveloped. Perhaps due to constraints of language, most of Pomfret’s historical informants are European. He demonstrates that “local pressures ensured that colonial childhoods developed quite different meanings and parameters on the ground” (53). However, such pressures seem to be grounded in administrative exigencies or national prejudices. What of indigenous ones? While he does attempt to draw indigenous voices out of European sources and is alert to trans-racial physical and emotional connections expressed within them, only in the last third of the book does the reader encounter substantive discussions of any of the non-European participants involved in ordering childhood. Though he refers many times to interaction with Asian wives, amahs, wet nurses, students, and medical practitioners, they are for the most part spectral, serving as foils against which the subjectivities of European childhood were assembled. His sophisticated analysis of the twin discourses of childhood and infantilization becomes somewhat muted by too-neat distinctions between early assimilationist and later associationist French policy, and he overly insists on the pervasiveness of the “decivilizing” critiques that Europeans leveled against Chinese in the nineteenth century (28). Moreover, Pomfret’s tendency to ventriloquize Asian responses risks replicating the discourses that he claims to analyze. Likewise, Pomfret’s multicentered approach shows how people and ideas moved across imperial spaces. Yet he does not linger upon existing codes of kinship (Confucian and otherwise) that would likely have coexisted in the multiethnic cities of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Pomfret does touch upon widespread European ideas about the antiquity of East Asian cultures. However, he argues, that narrative contributed to an emphasis on how cultural failings (such as a lack of…

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The Head of the Census Resigned. It Could Be as Serious as James Comey

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-05-14 19:20Z by Steven

The Head of the Census Resigned. It Could Be as Serious as James Comey


Haley Sweetland Edwards

John Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau

In a week dominated by President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, you could be forgiven for missing the imminent departure of another, less prominent federal official.

Yet the news this week that John H. Thompson, the director of the Census Bureau, has abruptly resigned is arguably as consequential to the future of our democracy. That’s because the Census Bureau, while less flashy than the FBI, plays a staggeringly important role in both U.S. elections and an array of state and federal government functions.

“At the very heart of the Census is nothing less than political power and money,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, who served as the staff director of the House census oversight subcommittee before becoming a consultant on census policy and operational issues. “It is the basis, the very foundation, of our democracy and the Constitution’s promise of equal representation.”

The results of the decennial Census—the next will be in 2020—will determine how state and federal political districts are drawn; which Americans are “counted” for representation; and how federal dollars, many of which are allocated on a per capita basis, are spent…

Read the entire article here.

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Youth and Empire: Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-05-14 19:04Z by Steven

Youth and Empire: Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia

Stanford University Press
December 2015
416 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780804795173

David M. Pomfret, Professor of History
University of Hong Kong

This is the first study of its kind to provide such a broadly comparative and in-depth analysis of children and empire. Youth and Empire brings to light new research and new interpretations on two relatively neglected fields of study: the history of imperialism in East and South East Asia and, more pointedly, the influence of childhood—and children’s voices—on modern empires.

By utilizing a diverse range of unpublished source materials drawn from three different continents, David M. Pomfret examines the emergence of children and childhood as a central historical force in the global history of empire in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This book is unusual in its scope, extending across the two empires of Britain and France and to points of intense impact in “tropical” places where indigenous, immigrant, and foreign cultures mixed: Hong Kong, Singapore, Saigon, and Hanoi. It thereby shows how childhood was crucial to definitions of race, and thus European authority, in these parts of the world. By examining the various contradictory and overlapping meanings of childhood in colonial Asia, Pomfret is able to provide new and often surprising readings of a set of problems that continue to trouble our contemporary world.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Introduction
  • 1. Childhood and the Reordering of Empire
  • 2. Tropical Childhoods: Health, Hygiene and Nature
  • 3. Cultural Contagions: Children in the Colonial Home
  • 4. Magic Islands: Children on Display in Colonialisms’ Cultures
  • 5. Trouble in Fairyland: Cultures of Childhood in Interwar Asia
  • 6. Intimate Heights: Children, Nature and Colonial Urban Planning
  • 7. Sick Traffic: ‘Child Slavery’ and Imperial Networks
  • 8. Class Reactions: Education and Colonial ‘Comings of Age’
  • 9. Raising Eurasia: Childhood, Youth and the Mixed Race Question
  • 10. Conclusion
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Misty Copeland, a Ballerina With Real Acting Chops

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-05-14 18:47Z by Steven

Misty Copeland, a Ballerina With Real Acting Chops

The New York Times

Gia Kourlas

As Misty Copeland gets older, she seeks even more depth in her acting.
Credit Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

Misty Copeland isn’t one of those principals who step onstage a few times a season. She dances. A lot.

“It’s crazy how I took jumping for granted all these years,” Ms. Copeland, 34, said as she stretched out on the floor between rehearsals at American Ballet Theater’s studios. Stella Abrera, a fellow principal, nodded in agreement. “What did you just do?” she asked.

“Kitri,” Ms. Copeland replied.

“Ouch,” Ms. Abrera said.

This season — Ms. Copeland’s second year as a principal — is a killer that includes her debut as Kitri in “Don Quixote” on Tuesday, May 16, and her New York debut as Giselle on May 26. As the company’s artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, put it, it’s symbolic because “she’s taking the mantle of the classics on.”…

…During a rehearsal the night before a performance in Washington earlier this year, Ms. Copeland described how after her first fouetté, she felt a pop in her neck and a warm sensation travel down her spine. “Even just approaching the fouettés,” she said, “it was like something tensed up in me and made that happen.”

So she reached out to a sports psychologist in California. “I spent 10 hours with this guy nonstop, talking about my feelings about myself in connection to my career and how I feel people are judging me,” she said. “Especially when it comes to that role, and what it means to be a black woman doing it. I’m trying to get to the root of all of it, and just be like as pure as I can be when I go out there and not carry all that baggage.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Opinion: ‘You’re not a true Asian’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-05-14 18:30Z by Steven

Opinion: ‘You’re not a true Asian’

CU Independent
Boulder, Colorado

Hayla Wong, Head Opinion Editor

Olivia Munn, who is half-Asian and half-white. (Courtesy: Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Opinions do not necessarily represent or any of its sponsors.

“But you’re not a true Asian,” people say when I try to assert an Asian identity.

I never gave these comments too much significance because yeah, it’s true. I’m half and half, Taiwanese and white, hapa, mixed. I’m not white. I’m not Asian.

But why do my friends feel it necessary to police my identity?…

Read the entire article here.

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