Memory

Memory is fundamental to Asian American studies and cultures, even though as a keyword or term it has not been significant in the academic realm. Its importance holds true whether one speaks of Asian American culture as a self-identified panethnic whole, or Asian American cultures in their various ethnic parts. In either the panethnic or ethnic case, memory enables the formation of an Asian American “imagined community” (B. Anderson 1991). The Asian American panethnic community (Y. Espiritu 1992), the one that names itself as Asian American, is in particular an imagined community dependent on strategies of remembering and forgetting to forge a shared past. This shared past is a collective memory built from individual memories, and the search for that past is an active act of remembering. These two senses of memory—as a body of memories and as willful recollection—cannot be separated from each other. The dynamic interaction between the …

This essay may be found on page 153 of the printed volume.

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