Class

The meaning of “class” in Asian American studies formed in conversation with Marxism, with the former building on the latter’s insights while seeking to find ways to exceed its perceived limitations. For instance, Lisa Lowe starts her groundbreaking book Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics by insisting, “Understanding Asian immigration to the United States is fundamental to understanding the racialized foundations of both the emergence of the United States as a nation and the development of American capitalism” (1996, ix). In the equally groundbreaking Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Racial Purity, Vijay Prashad observes, “White supremacy emerged in the throes of capitalism’s planetary birth to justify the expropriation of people off their lands and the exploitation of people for their labor” (2001, x–xi). In both these examples, race plays a larger role in the development of capitalism than Marx himself ever considered. …

This essay may be found on page 25 of the printed volume.

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