The term “riot” occupies a central yet complicated place within Asian American studies. In its historical usage, the term signifies the critical importance of collective acts of violence that terrorized Asian immigrants and forced them to evacuate and retreat from various geographic regions and areas of social life. Anti-Asian race riots began soon after the first significant population of Chinese immigrants arrived in California, beginning with the 1849 California Gold Rush and lasting through the Great Depression, when Filipino farmworkers were targeted and attacked in various farming communities. Today, in Asian American studies, the term is most closely associated with the politics of naming the civil disturbance that occurred in Los Angeles from April 29 to May 4, 1992. Along with competing terms such as “rebellion,” “uprising,” and “civil unrest,” the use of the term “riot” continues to cause controversy and reflects the complex location of Asian Americans in contemporary U.S. racial politics.

This essay may be found on page 220 of the printed volume.

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