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The Hindu Right in the United States  

Audrey Truschke

The Hindu Right is a dense network of organizations across the globe that promote Hindutva or Hindu nationalism, a political ideology that advocates for an ethnonationalist Hindu identity and to transform India into a Hindu state governed by majoritarian norms. Hindutva ideology was first articulated in India in the 1920s, and Hindu Right groups began expanding overseas in the 1940s, coming to the United States in 1970. Collectively, the Hindu Right groups that stretch across dozens of nations in the 21st century are known as the Sangh Parivar (the family of Hindutva organizations). From within the United States, Hindu Right groups exercise power within the global Hindutva movement and place pressure on American institutions and liberal values. The major interlinked Hindu Right groups in America focus on a variety of areas, especially politics, religion, outreach, and fundraising. Among other things, they attempt to control educational materials, influence policy makers, defend caste privilege, and whitewash Hindutva violence, a critical tool for many who espouse this exclusive political ideology. The U.S.-based Hindu Right is properly understood within both a transnational context of the global Sangh Parivar and as part of the American landscape, a fertile home for more than fifty years.

Article

Filipino Festivals in Southern California  

Mary Talusan

Filipino festivals (also “Philippine festivals”) in southern California are lively, dynamic events that draw multigenerational and multicultural crowds to enjoy food, partake in traditional games and crafts, buy Filipino pride gear, and watch a variety of acts that showcase the talent and creativity of Filipino Americans. Inclusive of those who identify as immigrant, U.S.-born, and transnational, Filipinos from across the region convene to express pride and promote visibility as an overlooked and marginalized ethnic group in the United States. The first public performances by Filipinos in the United States were in exhibits curated by colonial officials at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 to justify colonization of the Philippines. Presented as an uncivilized people in need of American tutelage, this stereotyping of Filipinos as primitives motivated pensionados or students from the Philippines to represent themselves; they organized Rizal Day starting in 1905, which valorized national Philippine hero José Rizal, in order to highlight their identity as modern, educated people. New immigrants, who were mostly rural, single men from the northern Philippines, arrived in the 1930s and frequented taxi dance halls in which Filipino jazz musicians and dancers flourished. Yet the established Filipino community criticized these venues as places of vice that were lacking in family and traditional cultural values. Philippine folk dances were not prevalent among Filipino Americans until after the Philippine Bayanihan Folk Dance Company appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1958. Due to their influence, Filipino American folk dance troupes were established across the nation, presenting Philippine cultures through stylistically diverse dances such as the Indigenous or Tribal suite, the Muslim or “Moro” suite, and the Maria Clara or Spanish-influenced suite. Folk dance performance became a hallmark of festivals such as the Philippine Folk Festival, which has been held annually in San Diego since 1979 (renamed the Philippine Cultural Arts Festival in 1996). In Los Angeles, the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture began in 1992, attracting thousands from around the region. These large-scale public Filipino festivals in southern California offer opportunities to gain insight into the variety of ways in which Filipino Americans creatively express a range of experiences, interests, and concerns. While folk dance troupes and traditional music ensembles such as Spanish-influenced rondalla (plucked string instruments) are most visibly tied to representations of Philippine traditions, rappers, DJs, spoken word artists, hip-hop dance crews, R&B singers, and rock bands demonstrate Filipinos’ mastery of American popular forms. With origins in community celebrations since the early 1900s, Filipino festivals of the early 21st century reflect changes and continuities in California’s Filipino communities, which have adapted to internal dynamics, larger societal forces, and engagement with the homeland of the Philippines.

Article

Buddhism in America  

Jeff Wilson

Buddhist history in the United States traces to the mid-19th century, when early scholars and spiritual pioneers first introduced the subject to Americans, followed soon by the arrival of Chinese immigrants to the West Coast. Interest in Buddhism was significant during the late Victorian era, but practice was almost completely confined to Asian immigrants, who faced severe white prejudice and legal discrimination. The Japanese were the first to establish robust, long-lasting temple networks, though they, too, faced persecution, culminating in the 1942 incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, a severe blow to American Buddhism. Outside the Japanese American community, Buddhism grew slowly in the earlier decades of the 20th century, but it began to take off in the 1960s, aided soon by the lifting of onerous immigration laws and the return of large-scale Asian immigration. By the end of the 20th century American Buddhism had become extremely diverse and complex, with clear evidence of permanence in Asian American and other communities.

Article

Asian International Adoptions  

Allison Varzally

Although Americans have adopted and continue to adopt children from all over the world, Asian minors have immigrated and joined American families in the greatest numbers and most shaped our collective understanding of the process and experiences of adoption. The movement and integration of infants and youths from Japan, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Korea, and China (the most common sending nations in the region) since the 1940s have not only altered the composition and conception of the American family but also reflected and reinforced the complexities of U.S. relations with and actions in Asia. In tracing the history of Asian international adoption, we can undercover shifting ideas of race and national belonging. The subject enriches the fields of Asian American and immigration history.

Article

Asian American Literature, U.S. Empire, and the Eaton Sisters  

Edward Tang

The Eaton sisters, Edith Maude (b. 1865–d. 1914) and Winnifred (b. 1875–d. 1954), were biracial authors who wrote under their respective pseudonyms, Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna. Raised in Montreal, Canada, by an English father and a Chinese mother, the sisters produced works that many scholars have recognized as among the first published by Asian American writers. Edith embraced her Chinese ancestry by composing newspaper articles and short stories that addressed the plight of Chinese immigrants in North America. Winnifred, on the other hand, posed as a Japanese woman and eclipsed her older sibling in popularity by writing interracial romances set in Japan. The significance of the Eaton sisters emerges from a distinct moment in American history. At the turn of the 20th century, the United States began asserting an imperial presence in Asia and the Caribbean, while waves of immigrants entered the nation as valued industrial labor. This dual movement of overseas expansion and incoming foreign populations gave rise to a sense of superiority and anxiety within the white American mainstream. Even as U.S. statesmen and missionaries sought to extend democracy, Christianity, and trade relations abroad, they also doubted that people who came to America could assimilate themselves according to the tenets of a liberal white Protestantism. This concern became evident with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) and the Gentleman’s Agreement (1907), legislation that thwarted Chinese and Japanese immigration efforts. The lives and writings of the Eaton sisters intersected with these broader developments. As mixed-race authors, they catered to a growing U.S. consumer interest in things Asian, acting as cultural interpreters between East and West. In doing so, however, they complicated and challenged American beliefs and attitudes about race relations, gender roles, and empire building.

Article

Vietnamese Americans in Little Saigon, California  

Phuong Nguyen

Little Saigon is the preferred name of Vietnamese refugee communities throughout the world. This article focuses primarily on the largest such community, in Orange County, California. This suburban ethnic enclave is home to the largest concentration of overseas Vietnamese, nearly 200,000, or 10 percent of the Vietnamese American population. Because of its size, location, and demographics, Little Saigon is also home to some of the most influential intellectuals, entertainers, businesspeople, and politicians in the Vietnamese diaspora, many of whom are invested in constructing Little Saigon as a transnational oppositional party to the government of Vietnam. Unlike traditional immigrant ethnic enclaves, Little Saigon is a refugee community whose formation and development emerged in large part from America’s efforts to atone for its epic defeat in Vietnam by at least sparing some of its wartime allies a life under communism. Much of Little Saigon’s cultural politics revolve around this narrative of rescue, although the number guilt-ridden Americans grows smaller and more conservative, while the loyalists of the pre-1975 Saigon regime struggle to instill in the younger generation of Vietnamese an appreciation of their refugee roots.

Article

Asian Americans and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots/Uprising  

Shelley Sang-Hee Lee

Although the 1992 Los Angeles riots have been described as a “race riot” sparked by the acquittals of a group of mostly white police officers charged with excessively beating black motorist Rodney King, the widespread targeting and destruction of Asian-owned (mainly Korean) property in and around South Central Los Angeles stands out as one of the most striking aspects of the uprising. For all the commentary generated about the state of black-white relations, African American youths, and the decline of America’s inner cities, the riots also gave many Americans their first awareness of the presence of a Korean immigrant population in Southern California, a large number of Korean shop owners, and the existence of what was commonly framed as the “black-Korean conflict.” For Korean Americans, and Asian Americans more generally, the Los Angeles riots represented a shattered “American dream” and brought focus to their tenuous hold on economic mobility and social inclusion in a society fraught by racial and ethnic tension. The riots furthermore marked a turning point that placed Asian immigrants and Asian Americans at the center of new conversations about social relations in a multiracial America, the place of new immigrants, and the responsibilities of relatively privileged minorities toward the less privileged.