May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, and in order to highlight and bring recognition to the Asian/Pacific American communities that enrich American culture, we’ve created a recommended reading list featuring some of our latest Asian American Studies and Asian Studies titles.
BY STEPHANIE HINNERSHITZ
In the Jim Crow South, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and, later, Vietnamese and Indian Americans faced obstacles similar to those experienced by African Americans in their fight for civil and human rights. Although they were not black, Asian Americans generally were not considered white and thus were subject to school segregation, antimiscegenation laws, and discriminatory business practices. As Asian Americans attempted to establish themselves in the South, they found that institutionalized racism thwarted their efforts time and again. However, this book tells the story of their resistance and documents how Asian American political actors and civil rights activists challenged existing definitions of rights and justice in the South.
BY JULIANA HA PEGUES
As the enduring “last frontier,” Alaska proves an indispensable context for examining the form and function of American colonialism, particularly in the shift from western continental expansion to global empire. In this richly theorized work, Juliana Hu Pegues evaluates four key historical periods in U.S.-Alaskan history: the Alaskan purchase, the Gold Rush, the emergence of salmon canneries, and the World War II era. In each, Hu Pegues recognizes colonial and racial entanglements between Alaska Native peoples and Asian immigrants. In the midst of this complex interplay, the American colonial project advanced by differentially racializing and gendering Indigenous and Asian peoples, constructing Asian immigrants as “out of place” and Alaska Natives as “out of time.” Counter to this space-time colonialism, Native and Asian peoples created alternate modes of meaning and belonging through their literature, photography, political organizing, and sociality.
COLORS OF CONFINEMENT: RARE KODACHROME PHOTOGRAPHS OF JAPANESE AMERICAN INCARCERATION IN WORLD WAR II (available in a new paperback edition August 2021)
BY ERIC L. MULLER
In 1942, Bill Manbo (1908-1992) and his family were forced from their Hollywood home into the Japanese American internment camp at Heart Mountain in Wyoming. While there, Manbo documented both the bleakness and beauty of his surroundings, using Kodachrome film, a technology then just seven years old, to capture community celebrations and to record his family’s struggle to maintain a normal life under the harsh conditions of racial imprisonment. Colors of Confinement showcases sixty-five stunning images from this extremely rare collection of color photographs, presented along with three interpretive essays by leading scholars and a reflective, personal essay by a former Heart Mountain internee.
BY ANNA PEGLER-GORDON
The immigration station at New York’s Ellis Island opened in 1892 and remained the largest U.S. port for immigrant entry until World War I. In popular memory, Ellis Island is typically seen as a gateway for Europeans seeking to join the “great American melting pot.” But as this fresh examination of Ellis Island’s history reveals, it was also a major site of immigrant detention and exclusion, especially for Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian travelers and maritime laborers who reached New York City from Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean, and even within the United States. And from 1924 to 1954, the station functioned as a detention camp and deportation center for a range of people deemed undesirable.
BY JANE H. HONG
Over the course of less than a century, the U.S. transformed from a nation that excluded Asians from immigration and citizenship to one that receives more immigrants from Asia than from anywhere else in the world. Yet questions of how that dramatic shift took place have long gone unanswered. In this first comprehensive history of Asian exclusion repeal, Jane H. Hong unearths the transpacific movement that successfully ended restrictions on Asian immigration.