Asian American Studies 101

Last updated: Spring 2013, last revised: November 24, 2014


Quick bullet points of Asian American Studies,
the field that coined “Asian American” in the late 1960s.


Asian American Studies is about identifying and resisting orientalization that paints us as perpetual foreigners and racializes us as model minorities who have little need for public funding, laws or justice.  Physical acts of terror and legislation  made it hard to live and work.  In protest, some Asian Americans have responded through the Asian American Movement via Asian American Studies.


What is Asian American Studies all about?
Uncovering, resisting and protesting “orientalization:” the poor treatment of Asians in America are not isolated incidents, but part of a larger process called orientalization.

What is Orientalization?
Orientalization is a process by which people are racially categorized.
Edward Said’s Orientalism vs. Asian American Studies Orientalism

What’s the big deal about Orientalization?
The ongoing perception that we’re perpetual foreigners shapes public opinion and effects policies like affirmative action, our need for social services, civil rights etc.

What is race? What is race in America? What does race mean for Asian Americans?
Race is an idea that people on each of the different continents have a different skin color.  Race in America is a white-black thing.  Asian Americans, however, are still effected by race.

What is meant by (and wrong with) “model minority?
Asian Americans are economically successful because of their family values.  This is a racial stereotype that encourages us to be seen as one static culture, and will lead to our material and social disadvantage.

I haven’t (or have rarely) experienced blatant racism.
How bad was it really?
Anti-Asian violence, Asians driven out of town, legislation that made it hard to live, work, have a family, be a citizen, and enter the country.  Many of the same perceptions that caused these things to happen are still present.

How did some Asian Americans respond to violence and hate?
How did Asian American Studies get its start?

Students striked at San Francisco State from Nov. 6, 1968 to March 20, 1969 to form the first ever Ethnic Studies department.

Does Asian American Studies still matter?
Yes, according to the outrage about the injustice done to Vincent Chin in the early 1980s. Asian Americans united together to combat the perception that we all look the same and the perception that our allegiances are only to Asia and not to America.

What are the overall contributions of Asian American Studies?
Countered ignorance about disrimination against Asian Americans, expressed and validated our long neglected history and encouraged racial solidarity through political and social activism.

What does Asian American Studies have to say about Christianity?
All religion is an “opiate of the masses”—and yet, some good things were done by missionaries.



What do academics have to say about being Asian American?
Why does Asian American Studies seem to say very little about Asian American communities?
What to make of Asian American Studies as it pertains to Christianity?
Asian American Studies is not about Asian Americans but about speaking to Asian Americans.


While in no way can we summarize every emerging nuance, this is our attempt to make Asian American Studies accessible to the non-academic.

This series is based off of Justin Tse‘s PhD reading.   Justin is a PhD Candidate at the University of British Columbia working on dissertation comparing Chinese Christians in Hong Kong, Vancouver and the San Francisco Bay Area.


Other Asian American Studies sources

Association for Asian American Studies

Directory of Asian American Studies Programs

UCLA Asian American Studies Center
The leading Asian American Studies program in the country

“Course Guide for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders”
Graphs and images related to sociology compiled for instructors by PhD student Calvin Ho


Main academic journals

Amerasia Journal

Journal for Asian American Studies (JAAS)



Hyphen Magazine, “the kind of magazine we always wanted to read: a publication that would go beyond celebrity interviews and essays about discovering our roots, which we found a long time ago, thank-you-very-much”

Angry Asian Man, “a blog about Asian America”

8 asians, “a collaborative blog of Asian-Americans and Asian-Canadians….posting about whatever Asian issues are currently relevant in our lives, whether it be pop culture or current events or politics”

Asian Nation, Asian American history, demographics and issues compiled by Asian American Sociologist C. N. Le

18 Million Rising, promoting  Asian Pacific Islander American “civic engagement by leveraging the power of technology and social media”



Other Asian American links

Killjoy Prophets, “make space for people of faith (especially Christians)…” to fight against racism and sexism, and “to amplify the whispers and to continue troubling the dominant narratives of justice and liberation while we also seek to imagine what liberation might look like from the perspectives of the most marginalized themselves.” (Quote from Patheos)


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ASIANAMERICANCHRISTIAN.ORG primarily asks how we are to be, think and respond to being Asian, American and Christian in Christ. Towards this end, we are extremely interested to learn from others and hear viewpoints different from our own. Please note that the views represented here are not necessarily those of ASIANAMERICANCHRISTIAN.ORG.