Espiritu: Constructing Our Own Images

Yen Le Espiritu delivers a fascinating read yet again, especially with her work that involves in Asian American Identity. Having read some of her other publications mostly on the Vietnamese American experience I can really appreciate her contributions to ethnic research.

Reading through the literary text, one thought that kept resurfacing was the notion of time. I found it most notable in the section heading under “Controlling Images, Gender, and Cultural Nationalism”.

The except mentions:

“Cultural nationalism has been crucial in Asian American’s struggles for self-determination. Emerging in the early 1970s, this unitary Asian American identity was primarily racial, male, and heterosexual. Asian American literature produced during those years highlighted Chinese and Japanese American male perspectives, obscuring gender and other intercommunity differences…” (p.103)

Glancing back historically, I thought about the time before the 1960 when people of Asian decent and in Asian immigrants did not consider themselves related each other at all. In fact, history showed that eastern relations hardly came to eye among Asian nations. For example Japan had invaded Korea, changing all Korean Americans to Japanese Americans, legally speaking because they didn’t have their own nation for a short period. Koreans didn’t like the Japanese for this reason. The Japanese also invaded China and the Chinese didn’t like the Japanese for that. China under the sovereign jurisdiction considered them higher stature so they really get along with Korea. Additionally Japan, Unites States, and Spain invaded the Philippines.

However in the 1960s the emergence of “cultural nationalism” made itself present and these groups were joined together for political coalitions for certain sets of rights.

It was also in during 1960s the term “Asian-American” emerged along with these Asian groups who decided that although there were differences, the concept of collectiveness fostered a new idea that there were things to be gained in joining forces politically rather than fighting within each other and accomplishing no rights.

By no means is the attentiveness back to the past meant to halt or rush our Asian American political movement.
Have we finished what we’ve started? Far from it, seemingly. However, have we made progress since we started? Hopefully these questions were to serve purpose to add food for thought…and not fuel to fire.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s