Connections across the Pacific: Locating Asia in America during the Twentieth Century

AHA Session 220
Sunday, January 5, 2014: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
Columbia Hall 6 (Washington Hilton)
Mary L. Dudziak, Emory University
Mary L. Dudziak, Emory University

Session Abstract

This panel will consider how foreign relations with Asia redefined terms of inclusion and exclusion for Asian Americans during the 20th century.  We explore how Asians in America navigated the vestiges of US imperialism in Vietnam, Japan, and China to negotiate their position in American society.  These papers bring together the transnational framework present in both studies of U.S. and the world and Asian American history.  As Asian American scholars such as Lisa Lowe have argued, American society has historically viewed Asian Americans as “perpetual foreigners,” or “foreigners-within” revealing the racialized foundation of the U.S.  This panel closely analyzes how real and perceived association between the U.S. and Asia during the 20th century often set the conditions for negotiation of American and Asian American racial identity.  Allison Varzally considers the impact Vietnamese adoption in the aftermath of the war had on Vietnamese American communities and their efforts to negotiate the legacy of the Vietnam War. Meredith Oda explores how the Sister City program between San Francisco and Osaka redefined terms of inclusion for Japanese Americans during the Cold War period. Phonshia Nie reveals how the legacy of US evangelical missionary work to China informed white evangelical outreach to Chinese American in the U.S. South during the Exclusion Era and dramatically advanced opportunities for Chinese Americans under Jim Crow.

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