Beacon Press: Asian American Histories of the United States
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Asian American Histories of the United States

Author: Catherine Ceniza Choy

An inclusive and landmark history, emphasizing how essential Asian American experiences are to any understanding of US history

Original and expansive, Asian American Histories of the United States is a nearly 200-year history of Asian migration, labor, and community formation in the US. Reckoning with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the surge in anti-Asian hate and violence, award-winning historian Catherine Ceniza Choy presents an urgent social history of the fastest growing group of Americans. The book features the lived experiences and diverse voices of immigrants, refugees, US-born Asian Americans, multiracial Americans, and workers from industries spanning agriculture to healthcare.

Despite significant Asian American breakthroughs in American politics, arts, and popular culture in the 21st century, a profound lack of understanding of Asian American history permeates American culture. Choy traces how anti-Asian violence and its intersection with misogyny and other forms of hatred, the erasure of Asian American experiences and contributions, and Asian American resistance to what has been omitted are prominent themes in Asian American history. This ambitious book is fundamental to understanding the American experience and its existential crises of the early 21st century.
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“An impressive new work about how major moments in Asian American history continue to influence the modern world . . . . An empathetic and detailed recounting of Asian American histories rarely found in textbooks.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Today’s rise in anti-Asian hate demands a new sort of Asian American history. Choy meets this urgent need with a powerful and effective nonlinear account of how we came to the present moment.”
—Beth Lew-Williams, author of The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America

“With unflinching insight and grace, Professor Choy offers an evocative meditation on the histories of Asian Americans, histories that powerfully connect our past with our present. A stunning, timely work that deepens our understanding of race in the United States.”
—Vicki L. Ruiz, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of California, Irvine

“Systematically and unapologetically, this country has attempted to erase Asian Americans from the American story. Catherine Ceniza Choy has an urgent reminder: the America of today would not exist without Asian Americans. She reminds us, too, that anti-Asian hate is hardly a new phenomenon—in fact, it has been central in the creation of this country for well over a century. Still, Choy channels hope but underscores that there is no moving forward without reckoning with the sins of our past. I promise you, this is unlike any history you’ll ever read—a book only Catherine Ceniza Choy could have written.”
—Anthony Christian Ocampo, author of The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race

“Accessibly written for a wide readership, Asian American Histories of the United States is a comprehensive, informative, and insightful work. Featuring multiple origins and trajectories of Asian American history, it offers important, new perspectives on Asian American rich and textured lives.”
—Yén Lê Espiritu, Distinguished Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego

“Exquisitely geared to meet the urgent demands of our time, Catherine Ceniza Choy’s highly readable Asian American Histories of the United States addresses it all: viruses and discrimination, healthcare and food culture, its vast workforce and their manifold contributions, proving time and again just how crucial Asian Americans are to the history of the United States.”
—Franklin S. Odo, John Woodruff Simpson Lecturer of American Studies, Amherst College

“Catherine Ceniza Choy is one of the most gifted public intellectuals that the Asian American community has produced. As Filipino American writer Carlos Bulosan did during the Great Depression, Choy bears witness to recent years of great anti-Asian hatred. Asian American Histories of the United States inspires us to link personal biographies with global histories, and tragic pasts with hope-filled futures.”
—Theodore S. Gonzalves, twenty-first president of the Association for Asian American Studies

“With anti-Asian bigotry accelerating in the United States, often violently, this important and beautifully written book is exactly the knowledge base and guide needed to educate the public. Then we must take action to address and resist the hate and resentment being experienced in Asian American communities.”
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

“Catherine Ceniza Choy makes a convincing argument that we must understand the past if we are to adequately address the anti-Asian violence of the present. Written with love and respect for our communities, this book illuminates histories as diverse as Asian America itself.”
—Grace M. Cho, author of National Book Award finalist Tastes Like War: A Memoir

“With admirable clarity and deep empathy, Catherine Ceniza Choy deftly captures the complex heterogeneity of the lives, cultures, and histories encompassed by the category of ‘Asian American.’ But even as Choy is acutely aware of the differences between and within Asian American communities in terms of national origin, language, religion, class, and immigration histories, so too is she attuned to their commonalities: the discriminatory citizenship and immigration laws that solidify their status as ‘forever foreigners,’ the histories of militarism and empire in Asia that constitute and indelibly mark their existence in the US, but also their shared histories of radical organizing and activism against discrimination, violence, and imperial rule. With lucid prose that never loses sight of the everyday lives of ordinary people, Choy counters the forced forgetting, erasure, and invisibility of Asian American histories, cultures, and labor. In so doing she makes indisputably clear their centrality to the very formation of the United States. If you think you ‘know’ American history, this book will be a revelation.”
—Gayatri Gopinath, author of Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora

“By documenting multiple origin stories, by recounting various histories, by examining a heterogeneous history of violence, erasure, and resistance, Catherine Ceniza Choy closes the door on narrow and uniform understandings of Asian Americans. This book is a monument to the complexity of history and the fullness of historical prose.”
—Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

“Catherine Ceniza Choy is a brilliant, perceptive historian who knows how to tell stories. By connecting people, movements, memories, and dreams with the harsh realities of structural racism across oceans, continents, and time, she gives us a completely new history of the United States—reminding us that nothing is ever black and white.”
—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

PREFACE
Writing in the Years of Great Hatred

INTRODUCTION
The Multiple Origins of Asian American Histories

ONE
2020: The Health of the Nation

TWO
1975: Trauma and Transformation

THREE
1968: What’s in the Name “Asian American”?

FOUR
1965: The Many Faces of Post-1965 Asian America

INTERLUDE
1965 Reprise: The Faces Behind the Food

FIVE
1953: Mixed Race Lives

SIX
1941 and 1942: The Days That You Remember

SEVEN
1919: Declaration of Independence

EIGHT
1875: Homage

CONCLUSION
1869: These Wounds

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Asian American Histories of the United States by Catherine Ceniza Choy

Readers’ Guide Discussion Questions

Download the readers’ guide.

  1. Reflect on the title of Catherine Choy’s book Asian American Histories of the United States. How does the title compare to other books in the ReVisioning History series, such as An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States by Kyle T. Mays or A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross? What is captured in placing a spotlight on the plural “histories” of minoritized people?
  2. In the preface, Choy discusses “positive stereotypes” of one-dimensional Asian American success and how “this misunderstanding . . . contributes to the dehumanization of Asian Americans” (viii). Considering no stereotype is truly “positive,” name some examples of stereotypes that pose as progressive or constructive for Asian Americans and people of color. How does this book work to combat the myth of the perfect marginalized group?
  3. Choy writes an achronological history, depicting important events in the past without specific order. What were your first impressions of the introduction highlighting Asian American history from the most recent to oldest events? How did this achronological structure shift your understanding of this history, and why do you think Choy chose to write the book in this manner?
  4. Choy presents to readers how Asian Americans experience the unique challenge of “being both celebrated and villainized at the same time,” as explained by Dr. Fu on page 2. In both the text as well as in life, where do you see this sentiment reflected?
  5. Chapter 1 discusses the massive influx of Filipino healthcare workers in the US medical field—noting that “31.5 percent of registered nurses who died from COVID-19 were Filipino American, although the group makes up only 4 percent of this labor force.” (14). Were you previously aware of this statistic? What does this tell you about the US workplace and the communities that are valued or neglected?
  6. Page 66 focuses on internal dissent between Asian communities within America during the early rise of Asian American social justice movements. Filipinos “felt marginalized by terms like ‘yellow power’” (66). From the workplace to your favorite Netflix show, where else do you see the erasure of dark-skinned Asian Americans? Where does this discrimination stem from? How can we better practice intercommunal allyship and care?
  7. On page 67, Abe Ignacio shares how learning his history in school and fostering healthy discussions about his cultural roots helped him rebuild his esteem surrounding his heritage. Taking into account Ignacio’s successes, struggles, realizations, and experiences, can you speak to the importance of teaching a multicultural history in the classroom? Can you think of other instances in your life when learning about your own history helped establish confidence?
  8. Suzanna Balino Fernandez, who is Mexican and Filipino, recounts on page 123 how she felt she was rejected from her own cultures for not being “enough” of one or the other. Reflect on the individual who experiences this rejection and how they are affected in the long run. How can the harm of this rhetoric be retraced? What are some effective ways to reframe the narrative surrounding mixed race identity?
  9. Choy states on page 166 that historical perspective greatly contributes to the erasure of Asian American histories, “specifically the power that comes from who gets to tell the story.” Do you see any existing parallels to other events in the past that have been forgotten, erased, skewed, or altered by historical perspective?
  10. In the context of the Atlanta murders in 2021, we see womanhood and Asian American identity overlap. What challenges arise at the intersection of these identities? How do depictions such as “dragon ladies” and “lotus blossoms” invoke real-life consequences for Asian American women?

Asian American Histories of the United States

ISBN: 978-080705079-8
Publication Date: 8/2/2022
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $26.95
Format: Cloth
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: August 2022
(Backorder policy)
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