fujino - Who Studies the Asian American Movement A...

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Who Studies the Asian American Movement? A Historiographical Analysis Diane C. Fujino Journal of Asian American Studies, Volume 11, Number 2, June 2008, pp. 127-169 (Article) Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: 10.1353/jaas.0.0003 For additional information about this article Access Provided by University of California @ Irvine at 09/07/10 9:00PM GMT http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jaas/summary/v011/11.2.fujino.html
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WHO STUDIES THE ASIAN AMERICAN MOVEMENT? A Historiographical Analysis diane c. fujino T HE SIXTIES ARE A STRETCHED - OUT DECADE synonymous with political protest. Yet Asian American activism barely registers on any political radar for a number of reasons, including being conspicuously understudied. Here, I seek to develop, for the first time, a historiography of the Asian American Movement (AAM). 1 The study focuses on grassroots and non-institutionalized discourses and practices from the late 1960s, when longstanding resistance by Asian Americans became characterized as a “social movement,” 2 to the decline of the AAM in the late 1970s. My analysis generates four periods of study. The first (late 1960s to mid-1970s) was dominated by activists and activist-scholars produc- ing knowledge in the zenith of the AAM. The second (late 1970s to late 1980s) represented a vacuum in AAM research. The third (late 1980s to late 1990s) saw a slow upsurge in AAM scholarship and a greater inclu- sion of scholarly works and civil rights frameworks. The fourth (2000 to present) can be seen as the “coming of age”—the adolescence, but not full maturity—of AAM scholarship, with the greatest number of scholarly works, a re-emphasis on the radical roots of the AAM, and attention to Steven Lawson’s “interactive model” that calls for connecting local and national, social and political issues. 3 Unlike historiographies of established fields that focus on books, my analysis also includes journal articles, book chapters, Ph.D. dissertations, JAAS JUNE 2008 127–169 © THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS
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128 JAAS 11:2 and Masters’ theses. 4 Three types of works are excluded. First, based on conventional definitions of social movements, this article does not explore participation in establishment politics, including the electoral arena. 5 Second, it is beyond the scope of this essay to include the rich and varied novels, poetry, films, music, and other cultural productions created within and, in turn, generative of the AAM. Third, as is common with historiographies, this article does not analyze primary-source materials, including the many vibrant AAM newspapers. 6 Five areas of struggle were critical to the 1960s–1970s AAM. First, Asian Americans of diverse ages helped to transform the Antiwar Move- ment from its emphasis on saving American lives to exposing racism, sexism, and capitalism at home and abroad. Activists linked the U.S. war in Vietnam to critiques of U.S. imperialism and militarism in Cambodia, Hiroshima, Okinawa, the Philippines, Hawaii, and elsewhere. Second, given the predominance of youth in the AAM, it is not surprising that
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