Welcome, Keywords for Asian American Studies

We are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of Keywords for Asian American Studies. As co-editors, we took seriously the diversity of an interdisciplinary field born out of Civil Rights struggle, anti-war protest, and anti-imperial resistance. Notwithstanding “traditional” disciplinary homes in the social sciences and humanities, we – like our contributors – have come together to contemplate the expansive contours of “Asian America,” a formation that encompasses multiple migrations, ethnicities, and histories.

It is fitting that the publication of Keywords for Asian American Studies coincides with a number of anniversaries which, to varying degrees, figure keenly in Asian American history. In particular, 2015 marks the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II; the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act (a.k.a. Hart-Celler Act), the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; and the fortieth anniversary of the conclusion of the second Indochina War and the passage of the Indochinese Refugee Act.  Such histories – which impacted the emergence of and shaped the contours of Asian American communities – make even more relevant this focus on Asian American Studies.

As we conceptualized and structured our project, we were guided by the Keywords series, especially Keywords for American Cultural Studies by Glenn Hendler and Bruce Burgett as well as the Keywords for Children’s Literature. With forthcoming projects in the collection, such as Keywords for Disability Studies and Keywords in Environmental Studies, we expect that this will create dialogic and creative opportunities to reconfigure our disciplines and fields in even more generative ways.

Undoubtedly, this collective project is a field “first” with regard to scope, organization, and content. We emphasize that identifying Asian American Studies as an emergent, disciplinary field lends itself to some serious debates. Continuing to label this as a relative new field is questionable given that it has its roots in the 1960s and Asian American programs, centers, and departments are celebrating a multitude of milestone anniversaries. Additionally, we are not arguing that there is an unifying vision for how we might individually or collectively imagine the field; however, we agree that the contours of the field have gone through a metamorphosis with a generation of new scholars and innovative research and publications.

As such, we want to stress that our original intent was not to be comprehensive but rather exploratory. We thus acknowledge in advance the incompleteness of this project insofar as our dynamic field is still growing. In the spirit of continuing these inquiries and conversations, we take an instructive cue from our colleagues who will engage with its content and look forward to further critical discussions from divergent perspectives and viewpoints. We also encourage you to share your ideas as you develop pedagogical uses with regard to using Keywords for Asian American Studies in your classes.