by Karen Leong

About Karen Leong

Karen Leong is Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies and Asian Pacific American Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She is the author of The China Mystique: Pearl S. Buck, Anna May Wong, Mayling Soong Chiang and the Transformation of American Orientalism (2005).


A word already in use in Europe from at least the 14th century with multiple meanings related to the status of being outside, not familiar, or different (OED), “foreign” likewise has multiple meanings within the field of Asian American studies, including “not American,” “outsider,” “noncitizen,” or “alien.” The term is deeply embedded in U.S. racial formations specifically relating to Asian Americans, and as such often slips between connotations of nation, citizenship status, race, and cultural difference.