A Jewish-Asian Couple’s Union Leads to a Scholarly Interest in Intermarriage

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-19 01:41Z by Steven

A Jewish-Asian Couple’s Union Leads to a Scholarly Interest in Intermarriage

The New York Times

Samuel G. Freedman, Professor of Journalism
Columbia University, New York, New York

One weekend night 15 years ago, a group of graduate students at the University of Chicago decided to interrupt their research long enough for a dinner party. Helen K. Kim made a chocolate tart with ginger cream filling. Her classmate Noah S. Leavitt regarded it and scoffed, “Nice use of your time, making a fancy dessert with all the homework we have.”

Ms. Kim did not exactly swoon at that snarky version of a pickup line.

Over the next three weeks, though, Mr. Leavitt kept pursuing her in more polite fashion and they eventually went out for dinner and drinks. Very quickly, the two aspiring academics found themselves talking in candid detail about the recent and untimely deaths of their fathers.

From that encounter grew not only their own subsequent marriage but a joint scholarly interest in the very trend they embodied: intermarriage between Asian-Americans and American Jews. Their major research paper on the subject appeared in February, just three months before arguably the highest-profile example of the phenomenon, the wedding of Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, to his longtime girlfriend, Dr. Priscilla Chan…

Read the entire article here.

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The Newest Jews? Understanding Jewish American and Asian American Marriages

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-18 18:12Z by Steven

The Newest Jews? Understanding Jewish American and Asian American Marriages

Contemporary Jewry
July 2012, Volume 32, Issue 2
pages 135-166
DOI: 10.1007/s12397-012-9078-y

Helen K. Kim, Associate Professor of Sociology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Noah Leavitt, Research Associate
Department of Sociology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

This paper investigates how racial, ethnic and religious identities intersect among couples where one spouse is Jewish American of any racial or ethnic descent and one spouse is Asian American of any religion or ethnic descent. While intermarriage is certainly not limited to these kinds of partnerships, there is reason to believe that these partnerships may become increasingly common when investigated along racial, ethnic, and religious dimensions. This study incorporates interviews with 31 intermarried couples residing in the Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Oakland, New York, and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. In particular, we highlight participants’ discussions of two main subjects: shared values within their partnerships and racial, ethnic, and religious identities of children, if present. Our paper expands the broader sociological literature on intermarriage as well as the specific literatures on intermarriage for Jewish Americans and intermarriage for Asian Americans.

Read or purchase the article here.

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China Dolls by Lisa See

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-18 03:09Z by Steven

China Dolls by Lisa See

Discover Nikkei

Leslie Yamaguchi

Fans of best-selling author Lisa See will not be surprised by her diverse background, the source of the unique perspective readers inevitably find in each of her novels.

Born in Paris but raised and residing in Los Angeles for most of her life, she is part Chinese. Her great-great-grandfather came to the United States to work on the building of the transcontinental railroad, and her great-grandfather was the “godfather” or “patriarch” of Los Angeles’ Chinatown. About 400 members of her large Chinese American family currently live in the Los Angeles area.

Despite her appearance—red-haired and freckled—Lisa See has always been strongly influenced by her Chinese identity. In a recent interview, the author explained, “I don’t look at all Chinese, but I grew up in a very large Chinese-American family. My Chinese background influences everything in my life. It’s in how I raise my children, in what I eat, in how I remember the people in my family who’ve died. It’s in what I plant in my garden and how I decorate my house. I have a western doctor, but my main doctor is from China and practices traditional Chinese medicine.” Of course, her Chinese heritage is also an integral part of her writing.

See does not set out to educate her readers about Chinese culture; instead, she views her books as a reflection of her own personal journey, a journey in which her culture has played a significant role. “All writers are told to write what they know, and this is what I know. In many ways I straddle two cultures. I try to bring what I know from both cultures into my work. I have no way of knowing if this is true or not, but perhaps the American side of me is able to open a window into China and things Chinese for non-Chinese, while the Chinese side of me makes sure that what I’m writing is true to the Chinese culture without making it seem too ‘exotic’ or ‘foreign.’ In other words, what I really want people to get from my books is that all people on the planet share common life experiences—falling in love, getting married, having children, dying—and share common emotions—love, hate, greed, jealousy. These are the universals; the differences are in the particulars of customs and culture.”

Through these reflections about her writing, Lisa See captures the essence of her latest novel, China Dolls. Within the narrative, the author provides readers with a glimpse into the history of both her own Chinese American heritage as well as the Japanese American experience during World War II. The novel revolves around three Asian American women who meet at an audition at The Forbidden City, a nightclub and cabaret in San Francisco that featured Asian performers from the late 1930s to the 1950s. The three women—Grace Lee, Helen Fong, and Ruby Tom—share the role of narrators, creating a kind of symmetry within the novel which is itself divided into three sections—the Sun, the Moon, and the Truth…

Read the entire review here.

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Young Artists: Saya Woolfalk

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-01-14 16:58Z by Steven

Young Artists: Saya Woolfalk

November 2008

Timothy McCahill

For the last two years Saya Woolfalk has practically lived in No Place, the futuristic work she is creating through painting, sculpture and video. So it’s not surprising that when she talks about it, the line between fact and fiction seems a little fuzzy. More than just a plain old multimedia installation, No Place has its own inhabitants and culture. The bubbly 29-year-old delights in describing every nook and cranny. “I talk about it as if it could be real,” admits Woolfalk, who is completing a yearlong stint as an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where No Place was recently shown. “But I never forget that it’s another place.”

Woolfalk’s world is inhabited by half-human, half-plant figures called No Placeans, who in her paintings are portrayed roaming a psychedelic landscape reminiscent of Yellow Submarine. In one piece, they appear in front of a blue and yellow building surrounded by pink phalluses. As part of the project, Woolfalk filmed the No Placeans—played by the artist, her friends and colleagues—in the style of a documentary…

…Though the piece grew partly out of Woolfalk’s reflections on utopia, her influences also originate closer to home. Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and an African-American and white father, Woolfalk draws on Japanese anime and traditional African garments for many of her characters and costumes, blending cultures so that her work feels at once foreign and familiar. “Because I’m mixed race, I have this idea that to leave the conversation ambiguous is interesting,” she says…

Read the entire interview here.

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Critical Mixed-Race In Transnational Perspective: The US, China, And Hong Kong, 1842-1943

Posted in Asian Diaspora, History, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-13 20:03Z by Steven

Critical Mixed-Race In Transnational Perspective: The US, China, And Hong Kong, 1842-1943

Center for East Asian Studies
Lathrop East Asia Library, Room 224
Stanford University
518 Memorial Way, Stanford, California
Thursday, 2015-01-15, 16:15-17:30 PST (Local Time)

Emma Teng, T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This paper will examine the intersection of Sinophone Studies and Critical Mixed-Race Studies (CMRS) – two new and critical paradigms of inquiry – as productive forces in reshaping Chinese Studies beyond the old Area Studies model. My work analyzes the evolving discourses on mixed-race as well as the lived experiences of Eurasians in China, Hong Kong, and the US during the era between 1842 and 1943, and thus lies at the intersection of these two emergent and dynamic fields. Through my research on transnational Chinese-Western mixed families I aim to expand the horizons of Critical Mixed-Race Studies, which has been dominated by the study of black-white interracialism. I ask how a transpacific comparative approach might shift the theoretical frameworks for critical race and ethnic studies by challenging the presumed universality of US-centric models. At the same time, I aim to expand the horizons of “Chinese” studies, asking how mixed-race or transracial hybrid identities contest racially bounded, Han Chinese-centric definitions of Chineseness.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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Laura Kina: Blue Hawai’i

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, United States on 2015-01-12 02:20Z by Steven

Laura Kina: Blue Hawai’i

Harold B. Lemmerman Gallery
New Jersey City University
Hepburn Hall, Room 323
2039 Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, New Jersey

2015-01-27 through 2015-03-03
Artist Reception: 2015-01-29, 16:30-19:30 EST (Local Time)
Artist Talk: 2015-03-02, 17:30-18:30 EST (Local Time)

Laura Kina, Canefield Workers, 2013, oil on canvas, 30 x 45 inches.

“You won’t find Elvis or surfboards or funny umbrella-topped cocktails in my dystopic Blue Hawai’i.” The Chicago-based artist Laura Kina speaks of her latest series of paintings which are featured in this exhibition. Drawn from her family albums, oral history and community archives, Kina’s ghostly oil paintings employ distilled memories to investigate themes of distance, longing, and belonging. The setting of these paintings is her father’s Okinawan sugarcane field plantation community, Piʻihonua, on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi near Hilo. The predominant blue color of the series was inspired by the indigo-dyed kasuri kimonos repurposed by the Issei (first generation) “picture bride” immigrants for canefield work clothes. Blue Hawaiʻi echoes the spirits of Kina’s ancestors and shared histories of labor migration.

In 2009, Kina accompanied her father back to his hometown community in Hawaiʻi to interview him along with other Nisei (second generation) and Sansei (third generation) about their memories of plantation life. In 2012, she traveled to Okinawa with her father, collecting stories of heritage and history. She learned of her grandmother and great aunts having been Kibei Nisei, i.e., sent to Japan for their education and that in the devastation of WWII and the Battle of Okinawa, four family members were killed–two by forced suicide.

As U.S. relatives ceased to use the Okinawan dialect of Uchinaguchi or standard Japanese, stories like these were lost. In Blue Hawaiʻi, Kina seeks to reclaim these histories via reanimated traces from old photographs and present-day vestiges visible in paintings such as “Okinawa—All American Food” and “Black Market,” which capture the remnants of war and a continued American military presence in contemporary Okinawa. Risking distortion, misreading, nostalgia and erasure, the artist fully engages in, what she calls, “the messy business” of memory, collapsing time and space into one Blue Hawaiʻi.

Laura Kina is Vincent de Paul professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013); cofounder of the DePaul biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies conference; and cofounder and consulting editor of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and reviews editor for the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas.

Her solo exhibitions include Blue Hawaii (2014), Sugar (2010), A Many-Splendored Thing (2010), Aloha Dreams (2007), Loving (2006), and Hapa Soap Operas (2003). She has exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center, India Habitat Centre, Nehuru Art Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, the Rose Art Museum, the Spertus Museum, the University of Memphis, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

For more about the exhibition, view an on-line catalog here.

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Hafu in Japan

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-01-08 21:16Z by Steven

Hafu in Japan

Japan Sociology

Maki Yoshikawa

This blog explores life in Japan from a sociological perspective. It is produced by Robert Moorehead and his students at Ritsumeikan University‘s College of International Relations, in Kyoto, Japan.

In Japan, there are a lot of hafu increasing the number year by year. This is because an increasing number of international marriages.

Probably we imagine people with white or black skin and big eyes. This means we unconsciously imagine non- Asian people. This is the symbol of how we are not get used to see other races in our daily life.

I have been thinking about hafus are little different from foreigners in terms of their identity. Japanese in Japan has no difficulties to define them. Foreigners are often treated as foreigner, however, in their hometown in other countries, they are never treated as foreigner. What about hafu in Japan?…

Read the entire article here.

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So, What Are You?: A Multiracial Perspective On Identity

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-06 01:27Z by Steven

So, What Are You?: A Multiracial Perspective On Identity

Jossle Magazine

Leilani Stacy
Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts

“So, what are you?”

In a word, “Wasian,” or more accurately, “Multiracial.” Specifically, I’m a quarter Japanese, a “mutt” of white—Scottish, Irish, Pennsylvania Dutch, French, English, German, Danish—and probably a little Native American (don’t worry, I didn’t put that down just to get into colleges) and, contrary to my name, not Hawaiian.

So when the issue of race comes up, one question often arises: Where do I fit in?

I’m sure if I ever visited Japan, people wouldn’t consider me “Japanese enough.” Meanwhile in the US, I get a little too tan to be considered “White enough.” Additionally, I’ve never felt comfortable joining a Japanese or Asian-American cultural club. And when people start talking about “cultural” traditions or life at home, forget it…

Read the entire article here.

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The fluidity of race

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Oceania on 2015-01-02 20:18Z by Steven

The fluidity of race

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
May 2012
221 pages
DOI: 10.7282/T3FN154X

Nicholas Trajano Molnar, Assistant Professor
Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies
Community College of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This study is an examination of the American mestizos who lived in the Philippines from 1900 to 1955. No scholarly studies exist that analyze and historicize this group, but this is understandable, as the population of the American mestizos compared to the overall Filipino population is miniscule, never exceeding 20,000 individuals at any one time. Despite their small numbers, the American mestizos were a matter of social concern for the Philippine state and the expatriate Americans and Filipino nationalists who resided there. Various actors in the Philippines carried their own imposed racializations of the group that changed over time, ranging from American expatriates who emphasized the group’s “American” blood to Filipino nationalists who embraced them as Filipinos.

This study will demonstrate that the boundaries of race have been constantly shifting, with no single imposed or self-ascribed American mestizo identity coalescing. American mestizo racial definitions and constructs are historically and regionally specific, complicating conventional scholarly assumptions and requiring a historically grounded approach to the understanding of race and ethnicity. This study makes theoretical contributions to the study of race in the United States and its former colonies. Contemporary literature seeks to explain by what means racial identity is created and maintained. My study, however, seeks to explore racial formation from another angle, exploring why a distinct group identity never coalesced among the American mestizos despite the presence of similar economic, historical, and social forces that have clearly led to racial formation in other groups.

The concept of the American mestizo and the fluid Philippine racial framework challenged static American notions of race. I argue that contact with the Philippines led to an assimilation of Filipino racial ideas among American expatriates, who in turn created their own colonialized concepts of race and nationality, demonstrating that under certain historical conditions, American concepts of race had room to bend. Tracking the transmittal of these hybridized ideas, and their transformations and various interpretations at each venue, allows us to gain insight into the malleability of Philippine and American notions of nation and race, and into the larger processes of racial construction overall.

Request a copy of the dissertation here.

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Racial Passing and the Raj

Posted in Asian Diaspora, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Passing on 2015-01-02 03:10Z by Steven

Racial Passing and the Raj

American Historical Association
129th Annual Meeting
New York, New York
2015-01-02 through 2015-01-05

Saturday, 2015-01-03, 15:10 EST (Local Time)
Park Suite 3 (Sheraton New York)

Uther Charlton-Stevens
Volgograd State University, Volgograd, Russia

Racial passing is a subject that has attracted much attention in the historiography of the Americas, as well as other settings such as South Africa. It has hitherto been overlooked in the South Asian context. Mixed race groups in South Asia have until recently also been largely neglected by historians, while attracting more attention from geographers and anthropologists.

Mixed race groups such as Anglo-Indians have been perceived as marginal, despite existing on the fault line of constructed racial difference. In many ways they embody the colonial connection and the transnational most tangibly, and through their mere presence make problematic the binary of ruler and ruled, colonizer and colonized. The British perceived not only those of mixed race but also poor whites of Indian domicile as undermining their racial prestige in the eyes of their Indian subjects, treating the two groups as essentially one class. However the socio-racial and class-based hierarchies which the British sought to erect and to police motivated widespread attempts at transgression, resulting in widespread passing in hopes of upward mobility along the spectrum from Indian Christians to mixed-race Anglo-Indians to supposedly unmixed Domiciled Europeans and even into the ranks of the British population, such as those who came out to take senior positions on the railways. This world of racial mixing and transgression was one which the British found unsettling and which later Indian Hindu nationalists, concerned with concepts of purity, also had reasons to overlook. Exploring racial passing across the boundaries erected by the Raj should yield us far greater insight into the nature of race in late colonial India and the lasting impact of the imperial presence.

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