by Sally Park
Before any of my book reviews and other content, I want to explain why I’m doing this and make a disclaimer. These books are not fiction nor poems by Asian American authors like Amy Tan, but are research for and stories of Asian American Studies: the history, the culture, and whatever else is relevant. Vanderbilt University does not have an Asian American Studies as do schools like UC Berkeley and Stanford, and it’s still a developing field in academia. So with this topic being a great interest of mine, I searched for books and scholarly research on my own, just for fun. One could say, “But don’t we have an Asian Studies department?” Yes, but Asian is not the same thing as Asian American; you can just read the course titles to figure that out. To quote one of the books that I’ll review, “Being Asian American for me is not a mere juxtaposition between being Asian and being American. It is not like putting together pieces of a puzzle, with different pieces labeled “Asian” or “American. Rather, it is creating a new identity that is neither Asian nor American.” (Han, Arar & Hsu, John. Asian American X: An Intersection of Twenty-First Century Asian American Voices.).
I read these books for the sake of educating myself because I love learning and I also don’t claim expertise on these topics. It was for my own betterment: to be educated in the things that concerned me or be challenged my thoughts and beliefs. I’m a firm believer that every person is on his or her own journey and is at different stages in life. So if you don’t know much about Asian American-ness, college is the best time to question yourself and the world, to find yourself in a relatively safe environment before going off into the “real world”. As cliché as it sounds, you have to know yourself and who you are before anything else, and being Asian-American is an intrinsic part of who we are. My hope is that people never stop learning and growing, and how you go about that is up to you. I think it is important to know our history and other relevant fields to better understand the society we inhabit today and the ways in which we are shaped. Hopefully, my choice of book recommendations provides some insight to those who might be interested in Asian-American studies as well.
The Books/Articles I will (probably) talk about, in the order of my personal preference:
I REALLY recommend these books:
• Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White- Frank H. Wu
• Asian American X: An Intersection of Twenty-First Century Asian American Voices- Arar Han and John Hsu
These are so great but may not be interesting to some as they were to me:
• Race, Rights, and the Asian American Experience- Angelo N Ancheta
• Asian American and Sexual Politics- Rosalind S Chou • Racial triangulation of Asian Americans- Claire Jean Kim
Other books that I think are very informative:
• Asian American Studies: Identity, Images, Issues Past and Present- Esther Mikyung Ghymn
• Forever foreigners or honorary whites? The Asian ethnic experience today- Mia Tuan
• The Making of Asian America: A History- Erika Lee
• Asian American Women and Gender- Franklin Ng
Great online resource for general and specific information about Asian-American community: