The First Waves of Asian Immigration Race, Class, & Gender
Major First Waves of Asian Immigration • Diverse Asian ethnic groups experience similar processes of racialization • Chinese – 1849 to 1930 • 46,000 to HI; 380,000 to mainland US • Japanese – 1885 to 1924 • 200,000 to HI; 180,000 to mainland US • Korean – 1903 to 1920 • 9,000 total to US • Filipino – 1900 to 1930 • 110,000 to HI; 40,000 to mainland US • South Asian – 1907 to 1918 • 6,400 total to US
Korea & South Asia • 1903-1920 – about 8,000 Koreans immigrate to US • Influence of Christian missionaries • US as escape from Japanese imperialism • 1910 – Japan formally annexes Korea • Japan restricts Korean immigration • US anti-Japanese immigration policies extended to Koreans • 1907-1915 – about 10,000 South Asian immigrants to US
“A tide of turbans” • Factors of immigration: • British colonial land policies • Famine exacerbates poverty • Exposure to English and western culture • Were South Asians “white”? • “The ‘forefathers’ of white Americans ‘pressed to the West, in the everlasting march of conquest, progress, and civilization,’ while the ‘forefathers of the Hindus went east and became enslaved, effeminate, caste-ridden, and degraded.’ The Western Aryans became the ‘Lords of Creation,’ while the Eastern Aryans became the ‘Slaves of Creation’” – The Asiatic Exclusion League (1910) • 1923 – US v. Bhagat Singh Thind Blumenbach’s five races: Caucasian, Mongolian, Malayan, Ethiopian, American
Reading Questions • According to Takaki’s essay “The Centrality of Racism in Asian American History,” why were Asian immigrants perceived as perpetual strangers while Jewish, Irish, & Italian immigrants could remake themselves as American when they arrived in the US? • Why does Yanagisako argue that there is a “woman problem” when it comes to Asian American history?
The Racial Stranger • Jewish case (11) • Cultural differences • Lack of roots in community • For ethnic white immigrants: • Myth of American melting pot • Consolidation of whiteness at the cost of non-European immigrants • “color” & class • Ethnic antagonism dividing & conquering labor for profit • Ethnic enclaves and other survival strategies reaffirm racial separateness
Takaki’s Woman Problem? • Exclusive focus in early Asian American history on male, working-class experience in the US • What about experiences of women who did immigrate? How did they experience racism in the US and sexism from both dominant white society and the Chinese community? • Ex. The Chinese Prostitute • What about the wives, daughters, mothers of Chinese immigrant men left behind? Didn’t they play an important role in history of early Asian immigration to the US? • Transnational feminist critique of Asian American history • How does gender complicate experiences of race and class? • Can one only be considered Asian American if one lives in America? • Example: Philippines under US control
Race, Class, Gender • Why focus only on working-class Asian male immigrants in US? (17) • To unify early and contemporary waves of immigration, denying class hierarchy in Asian America • To fight ethnic antagonism, debunk “model minority” and bridge gaps between Asian, black, Latino, and Chicano communities • But not all people experience racism, sexism, and class marginalization in the same way! • How do you create unity but still recognize different experiences of privilege & marginalization?
Questions? • Papers due @ start of class Thurs • Papers must be 3 to 4 pages long, typed, double-spaced, in 12 pt font, and with 1” margins all around • NO OUTSIDE RESERCH IS NECESSARY • Properly acknowledge sources using parenthetical citations. For examples and more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/ • Late papers will be penalized. Email submissions will not be accepted. • Will have guest speakers! • Lily Prijoles, Educational Coordinator, Kuya Ate Mentorship Program • James Diokno, Youth Programming Coordinator, Union of Pan Asian Communities