Today’s three reading assignments examine the travails of the Asian American experience from different, complementary angles, which is good, because we don’t want to keep reading the same thing over and again. These 3 readings contribute to our perception of how discourses can coalesce into disciplines, thus increasing our theoretical understanding. For example, readings with which we’re already familiar are used in these new readings as building blocks upon which to construct this integrated discipline.
Erika Lee’s “The Yellow Peril and Asian exclusion in the Americas” aims to form a more holistic view of Asian immigration to the whole of the Americas by revising understandings of transnationalism. She explores how attitudes in one place had a tendency of transcending borders and that there was a certain commonality to this “hemispheric” approach to Asian exclusion. This manifests for instance in that many a Japanese was shipped off to America from Latin America for holding during WWII. She also delves into the history of the effects of the Chinese Exclusion Act beyond just its stated goal. What I mean is: how immigrants attempted to get around the Act by taking roundabout journeys to The US through Canada and Mexico; then, of course, there were official responses to that, too; also, how Chinese exclusion led to higher rates of immigration of other Asian groups. One very perplexing thing in this article was the author’s mentioning of Sikhs having been hired as police in Hong Kong; my response was thus, whaaaaaa?
“The persistence of Yellow Peril Discourse” is written with the aim of examining Asiatic depictions in media. The writers explicate some films; there filmic analysis can be interesting, though I find their explication of The Fast and the Furious to be a reach. Films of this ilk are harmful to people who like good films, not just Asian Americans. Also they examine a quite heinous cartoon of the time, making clear the extent of the fear mongering.
“Black Orientalism” is an interesting read, for it examines this dialectic between oppressed peoples in a society, the sometimes solidarity and seeming contradictions that arose from the relationship. Other nuances are explored, too, of course, such as the involvement of trade unions, those once bastions of the white middle class, and their opposition to immigration.