Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-30 14:23Z by Steven

Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

The Harvard Crimson: The University Daily since 1873
Harvard University
2014-09-25

Maia R. Silber, Crimson Staff Writer

While last year’s “I, Too, Am Harvard” focused on identity and belongingness on a multiracial campus, Harvard’s AAPI students will also examine these concepts within the context of their own community.

It is a Saturday night, and it is raining—two factors counting against attendance at the talk co-hosted by Harvard’s Asian American Brotherhood and Black Men’s Forum. But a surprising number of people have filtered through the double doors of Boylston Hall, filling the plush red chairs only vaguely oriented around an old-fashioned projector. Stragglers lean against the shade-less windows, their elbows forming perpendicular angles with the droplets pounding on the other side.

Really, it’s no surprise that neither weather nor the opportunity cost of missed social engagements has deterred the audience; the talk centers on the buzz-worthy issue of affirmative action. Both campus groups have invited an alumnus who’s an expert on the issue for two short presentations, to be followed by a Q&A.

Gregory D. Kristof ’15, the education and politics director of AAB, a campus organization whose mission statement cites dedication to brotherhood, service, and activism, introduces AAB’s alumnus. Kristof focuses on the third part of AAB’s mission—the group’s discussions of discrimination and race-relations.

“We can only make so much progress if we only discuss these issues among AAB—among Asian Americans,” he says.

As discussions about race and inclusiveness have moved to the forefront of campus life with the “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign, many Asian American student organizations have launched their own dialogues about issues pertinent to their community. But the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at Harvard—representing around 24 percent of the school’s population—encompasses individuals of dozens of different national, ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious identities. It includes students born here and students born in Asia, biracial students and multiracial students. How can a unified political force emerge from such a diverse and multifaceted population? Is this even a goal to aspire to?…

…Many students remain unsure as to how to define their own identities. “Sometimes I think of myself as Asian, but sometimes I don’t,” said Jacob. “When I see an Asian collaboration happening, do I automatically think that we should be included? Not necessarily.”

“Asian American” identities are further complicated by biracial and multiracial heritages. Harvard’s Half Asian People’s Association holds an annual discussion called “So What Are You Anyway?”

“When we get together, people always ask, ‘Do you feel more Asian or more white?’” says outgoing HAPA president Allison W. Giebisch ’16, who is of half-Austrian and half-Chinese descent. “When I go to China, people don’t think I’m Chinese. In the U.S., people don’t think I’m American.”…

Read the entire article here.

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So, What Are You… Anyway?: 2013 Conference on Multiracial Identity

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-06 16:17Z by Steven

So, What Are You… Anyway?: 2013 Conference on Multiracial Identity

Hosted by the Harvard College Half-Asian People’s Association
Harvard University
2013-04-05 through 2013-04-06

The Harvard Half-Asian People’s Association will host its fifth annual conference on mixed-race politics and identity issues, “So…What Are You, Anyway?” (SWAYA) on Friday, April 5, 2013 and Saturday, April 6, 2013 on the Harvard University campus. The event is open to the public and will feature an array of exciting guest lecturers who will speak on issues involving multiracial identity.

The conference will include lectures given by author Pearl Fuyo Gaskins, Harvard professor Jennifer Hochschild, and Eric Hamako, as well as discussion groups led by experts on modern race relations. Last year, the event drew over one hundred students and other guests from colleges and cities around the US.

SWAYA will culminate in a special gala dinner* in honor of the 2013 recipient of the Cultural Pioneer Award, Pearl Gaskins, author of the book What are You?: Voices of Mixed-Race Young People

For more information, click here.

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A diverged family converges at Harvard Law

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Identity Development/Psychology, United States on 2012-10-11 02:16Z by Steven

A diverged family converges at Harvard Law

Havard Law School News
2012-10-10

Audrey Kunycky

A chance encounter, a discovery of kin on opposite sides of the world

It wasn’t inevitable that Harvard Law School graduate students Erum Khalid Sattar and Rebecca Zaman would meet so soon, or even at all. Sattar has been at the law school for three years, pursuing a doctorate in juridical science (S.J.D.); Zaman arrived in August to begin a year of study for a master’s in law (LL.M.). Sattar is from Pakistan, and studied law in London; Zaman grew up, earned her law degree and completed a judicial clerkship in Australia. Then again, they’re about the same height, with the same dark brown hair, and that might not be just a coincidence.

In August, a few days into LL.M. Orientation, the two women shook hands and said hello at a Graduate Program reception. “If we hadn’t been wearing nametags, what happened next might never have happened,” says Zaman. Sattar’s large, expressive eyes are glittering, but she wants Zaman to tell the story, because she tells it better.

My surname is Zaman, and it’s a very unusual surname for a white-appearing Australian to have,” explains Zaman. “So when they saw my nametag, a lot of the Indians, Pakistanis and Middle Easterners asked how I could have this name. When I met Erum, it was very similar.  So I said, ‘Oh! My father’s father is a Muslim Indian from Hyderabad.’ And Erum said, ‘Oh, what a coincidence. My family was from Hyderabad, before they moved to Karachi after the partition.’ And she laughed, and said, ‘Maybe we’re related.’ We both laughed, and I said, ‘Maybe. It’s a strange story.’”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘It gives me gooseflesh’: Remarkable find in South Side attic

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2012-04-07 02:34Z by Steven

‘It gives me gooseflesh’: Remarkable find in South Side attic

Chicago Sun-Times
2012-03-10

Kim Janssen, Staff Reporter


Richard Theodore Greener (1844-1922), Harvard Class of 1870

It wasn’t much more than a ghost house by the time Rufus McDonald got the call.

The front door of the abandoned home near 75th and Sangamon was unlocked and swinging in the wind.

Drug addicts, squatters and stray animals carried away whatever they wanted. Everything that wasn’t termite-infested seemed to have been stolen. Even the copper pipes were gone.

But the scavengers missed something incredible.

Hidden in the attic that McDonald was contracted to clear before the home’s 2009 demolition was a trunk. Inside were the papers of Richard T. Greener, the first African American to graduate from Harvard…

…Married to Genevieve Ida Fleet, with whom he had six children, he became dean of Howard University’s law school; worked at the U.S. Treasury and in Republican politics and law in Washington, and befriended President Ulysses S. Grant, whose memorial he helped build.

A friend and sometimes rival of other leading African Americans of his era, including Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, he wrote in 1879: “The negro has received so many hard knocks, and experienced so little consideration, charity, or justice from those who criticize him, that he has no quarter to give.”

In an 1894 essay he pointedly renamed the “Negro Problem” as “The White Problem.”

Sick of Washington politics, in 1898 he accepted a post from President William McKinley in Vladivostok, Russia. Leaving his family, he took a Japanese common-law wife, Mishi Kawashima, with whom he had three children. He was praised for his efforts as a U.S. agent during the Russo-Japanese war, but he was fired in 1905 after a smear campaign.

From 1909 until his death in 1922 he lived with cousins at 5237 S. Ellis in Chicago. Cut off from both his families, he was likely visited just once in Hyde Park by his daughter Belle da Costa Greene, according to biographer Heidi Ardizzone.

Along with the rest of Greener’s first family, da Costa Greene — the chic director of banker J.P. Morgan’s personal library — changed her last name to pass as white in elite New York society. “Greener had so much intelligence and passion and to see his equally talented children not have their achievements counted as African American must have been heartbreaking,” Ardizzone said.

Da Costa Greene burned her own personal papers before her death in 1950. The discovery of some of her father’s documents in an Englewood attic is “every historian’s dream,” Ardizzone said…

Read the entire article here.

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So… What are You, Anyway

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, United States on 2012-03-27 01:08Z by Steven

So… What are You, Anyway

2012 Conference on Multiracial Identity: Exploring Our Roots
Hosted by Harvard Half-Asian People’s Association
Harvard University
2012-04-06 through 2012-04-07

Welcome to the fourth annual conference on multiracial identity and politics, hosted by the Harvard College Half-Asian People’s Association on April 6 – April 7, 2012.

Join us this year in exploring what it means to be mixed race. This year we are happy to announce Diane Farr as our keynote speaker. Diane Farr last brought her unique sense of humor to Showtime’s CALIFORNICATION as Jill Robinson. Having just finished three years as Agent Megan Reeves on CBS’s NUMB3RS, Farr was thrilled to put her gun down and don a sundress for a comedy. Prior to NUMB3RS, Farr starred on RESCUE ME, as well as THE JOB, THE DREW CAREY SHOW and ROSWELL. Her advice as the sole female on the MTV hit, LOVELINE, is what made her whiskey-soaked voice so recognizable. After 200 episodes of this cult phenomenon, Farr published her first book.

The Girl Code, a comic look at single women in the 21st century has since been sold to seven countries in five languages. Farr’s latest book, Kissing Outside The Lines, hilariously chronicles her path to an interracial marriage. Part of a two book series, Kissing will be followed up next year with Shades of America – which discusses raising biracial children. Diane writes for most American magazines and recently took over Dave Barry’s internationally syndicated column for Herald Tribune Newspapers, writing a comedic comment on pop culture.

We are also happy to welcome Associated Press journalist Jesse Washington and former Harvard Hapa president James Fish as speakers and Sue Lambe, Katie Low, and as discussion leaders…

For more information, click here.

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The one-drop aesthetic: How literary formalism reinvented race in the United States

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2011-06-05 02:02Z by Steven

The one-drop aesthetic: How literary formalism reinvented race in the United States

Harvard University
2009
233 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3365201
ISBN: 9781109254617

Kevin Brian Birmingham

A dissertation presented by Kevin Brian Birmingham to The Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the subject of English.

The One-Drop Aesthetic argues that late twentieth-century theories of race and identity are translations of the early twentieth century’s aesthetic formalism, the New Criticism. The first cohesive formalism in the United States was an aesthetic ideology shaped by the imperfections of the South, which the southern New Critics took as a social model for their aesthetic ideals. They imagined literature not as a solid structure or an organic wholeness but as a welter of contingencies—a terrain that, like the South, was besieged by science and industry and whose beauty resided in fragments and ashes. The New Criticism was largely a dialogue between Allen Tate’s faith in transcendent wholeness and Ransom’s attention to art’s “infinite residue.”

The southern institution capable of relating fragments to organic wholes as well as bringing the idealized past into the industrialized present was, perhaps surprisingly, the cornerstone of segregation: the one-drop rule. A guiding principle of American race ideology was the belief that a trace of blackness is powerful enough to constitute blackness itself . Though it was a powerful weapon of oppression, several American writers in the twentieth century turned the implications of the one-drop rule into aesthetic virtues. Abiding, contaminating racial traces provided not only a model for cultural continuity over time and for imagining parts as transcendent wholes, but it intensified the complexity of W. E. B. Du Bois’s double consciousness, a modern American version of both Hegel’s self-consciousness and Friedrich Schiller’s aesthetics.

This project covers a fifty-year period from the New Criticism of the 1930s to the New Mestiza of the 1980s. Several writers used the idea of overwhelming racial traces to reframe the European aesthetic ideals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in immediate social terms. William Faulkner’s powerful imagination of the one-drop aesthetic in his 1936 novel Absalom, Absalom! was foundational, and the unlikely inheritor of Faulkner was James Baldwin, who amplifies Faulkner’s race-based apocalyptic mode in his essays. This dissertation then turns to the central importance of the racially-mixed Schwarzkommando in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973). It ends with a discussion of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987), which provides yet another vision of a lost aesthetic society recoverable from traces of both memory and blood.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One – Hellenic Dixie: The Soil of American Formalism
  • Chapter Two – The Master/Trash Dialectic: William Faulkner and the Origin of an American Aesthetic
  • Chapter Three – “History’s Ass Pocket”: The Bind of Identity and Aesthetics in James Baldwin
  • Chapter Four – Revolutionaries of the Trace: Thomas Pynchon’s Schwarzkommando and the One-Drop Sublime
  • Chapter Five – Gods Out of Entrails: The Old Aesthetic of the New Mestiza
  • Works Cited

Purchase the dissertation here.

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So… What Are You, Anyway?

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2011-03-13 22:26Z by Steven

So… What Are You, Anyway?

Harvard Half-Asian People’s Association
Harvard University
2011-03-25 through 2011-03-26

The Harvard Half-Asian People’s Association will host its third annual conference on mixed-race politics and identity issues, “So…What Are You, Anyway?” (SWAYA) on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26, 2011 on the Harvard University campus. The event is open to the public and will feature an array of exciting guest lecturers who will speak on issues involving multiracial identity.

The conference will include lectures given by the Dean of Harvard College and other Harvard College professors, as well as student panels and discussion groups. Last year, the event drew over one hundred students and other guests from colleges and cities around the Boston area.

SWAYA will culminate in a special gala dinner* in honor of the 2010 recipient of the Cultural Pioneer Award, celebrity mixed-race artist Jeff Chiba Stearns, director of the award-winning documentary “One Big Hapa Family”. An international spokesperson on mixed-race identity, Stearns’ short films exploring multiethnic issues have been screened in hundreds of film festivals around the world and have garnered over 33 awards.

For more information, click here.

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Study Looks at Biracial Assignment

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2010-12-13 21:24Z by Steven

Study Looks at Biracial Assignment

The Harvard Crimson
2010-12-13

Hana N. Rouse, Crimson Staff Writer

People classify biracial children as members of the minority parent group

People have the tendency to classify those of biracial descent as members of their minority parent group rather than as equal members of both races, according to a recent study published by Harvard psychologists.

The study, led by Harvard psychology graduate student Arnold K. Ho and co-authored by Harvard Professors James Sidanius and Mahzarin R. Banaji and Vanderbilt Professor Daniel T. Levin, employed computer generated faces of varying ethnicities and fictional family trees to test people’s intuitive racial classifications.

Study results suggest that participants classified half-white and half-minority persons as part of a minority. Researchers used computer generated faces of varying ethnicities and fictional family trees to test people’s preferences…

Read the entire article here.

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‘One-drop rule’ persists: Biracials viewed as members of their lower-status parent group

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-12-11 23:16Z by Steven

‘One-drop rule’ persists: Biracials viewed as members of their lower-status parent group

Harvard Gazette
Harvard Science: Science and Engineering at Harvard University
2010-12-09

Steve Bradt, Harvard Staff Writer

Arnold K. Ho (right), a Ph.D. student in psychology at Harvard, and James Sidanius, a professor of psychology and of African and African-American studies at Harvard, researched the “one-drop rule.” They say their work reflects the cultural entrenchment of America’s traditional racial hierarchy, which assigns the highest status to whites, followed by Asians, with Latinos and blacks at the bottom.

The centuries-old “one-drop rule” assigning minority status to mixed-race individuals appears to live on in our modern-day perception and categorization of people like Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry.

So say Harvard University psychologists, who’ve found that we still tend to see biracials not as equal members of both parent groups, but as belonging more to their minority parent group. The research appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Many commentators have argued that the election of Barack Obama, and the increasing number of mixed-race people more broadly, will lead to a fundamental change in American race relations,” says lead author Arnold K. Ho, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Harvard. “Our work challenges the interpretation of our first biracial president, and the growing number of mixed-race people in general, as signaling a color-blind America.”…

…“One of the remarkable things about our research on hypodescent is what it tells us about the hierarchical nature of race relations in the United States,” says co-author James Sidanius, professor of psychology and of African and African-American studies at Harvard. “Hypodescent against blacks remains a relatively powerful force within American society.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Crimes of ‘Blood’: A comparative analysis of South Africa’s Immorality Act (1927 & 1950) and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949), and Miscegenation Laws in North America

Posted in Africa, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2009-10-19 20:58Z by Steven

Crimes of ‘Blood’: A comparative analysis of South Africa’s Immorality Act (1927 & 1950) and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949), and Miscegenation Laws in North America

W.E.B. DuBois Insitute for African and African American Research at Harvard University
Date: Spring 2010

Zimitri Erasmus, Senior Lecturer in Sociology
University of Cape Town

This study compares the effects of Miscegenation Laws in 20th century North America with those of apartheid South Africa’s Immorality (1927 & 1950) and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages (1949) Acts. It draws on three sets of primary data: a) law reports of cases tried and sent for appeal – under various versions of the Immorality Act – before 1948 under the government of the Union of South Africa and after 1948, under the Apartheid government; b) House of Assembly and Senate Debates of the South African Parliament, under both the Union and Apartheid governments; and c) related Government Commission Reports. It also draws on already existing analyses of similar data from the North American experience to produce a comparative analysis of relevant laws in South Africa and North America.

The project examines the logic, procedures and socio-political effects of these key laws of Grand Apartheid. I ask four broad questions:

  • What can we learn from the North American body of knowledge on the administration of ‘interracial’ sex and marriage that might be of relevance to such administration in colonial and apartheid South Africa?
  • What is different about the South African case?
  • How does this difference contribute to knowledge in this field?
  • What does this comparative analysis offer in support of a critical literacy for the use of ‘race’?
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