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date: 11 December 2019

Summary and Keywords

Latina/os and Asian Americans have lived in what is now the United States for hundreds of years, yet they are often considered foreign in the national imaginary. Legally, through acts excluding Latina/os and Asians from citizenship, and socially, through targeted anti-immigration rhetoric, both groups have been racialized in the United States as outsiders. This form of racial discrimination, also called “nativistic racism,” forms the basis of several intersections of Latina/o and Asian American literature. Latina/o and Asian American literary works counter nativistic racism by emphasizing multiracial histories within the United States, by drawing attention to racial injustices, and by employing tropes of loyalty and betrayal to highlight the selective ways that the United States has defined citizenship and belonging along racial lines. Latina/o and Asian American texts may also recognize the US military interventions that brought Asians and Latin Americans to the United States as (post)colonial subjects, Cold War allies, and refugees. Some of these texts counter national narratives such as American exceptionalism and Cold War bilateralism; others protest the erasure of military actions overseas from dominant histories of the United States. In addition to suggesting comparative intersections, Latina/o and Asian American literatures also depict literal interactions when Latina/o characters feature prominently in Asian American texts and vice versa. Literature set in California and other areas with high Asian American and Latina/o populations portrays both the significant contact and common political interests between Latina/os and Asian Americans. This long history of contact appears in early texts that center on Asian American and Latina/o farmworkers; it continues in more recent literature featuring Latina/o and Asian American friendships, partnerships, and rivalries. Some Filipino texts emphasize cultural commonalities with Mexican Americans, including Spanish-language surnames and Catholicism. A final intersection of Latina/o and Asian American literature occurs in texts by authors who are both Asian and Latina/o, including Peruvians, Cubans, Mexicans, and other Latin Americans of Asian descent. Written in both English and Spanish, this literature draws attention to the transpacific connections between Asia and the Americas. While it is crucial to acknowledge the historical particularities of Latina/o and Asian American literature, as well as the diversity within each of these groups, recognizing the ways in which these literatures intersect is important to understanding cross-racial alliances of the past and potential solidarities for the future.

Keywords: Latina/o literature, Asian American literature, nativistic racism, perpetual foreigners, United States imperialism, LatinAsian, contact zones, transpacific

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