Asian American Identity in Literature: Overview Analysis


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Although East Asia has been subjected to the challenges and influences of Western civilization, including pressures of modernization and of capitalism, it did not succumb, as did other regions of Asia, to the colonization efforts of the West. Contacts between East Asia and the West resulted, however, in political, economic, military, and ideological conditions that have contributed to mass emigration, through displacement and recruitment, from China, Japan, and Korea.

The United States of America, emerging as a world power in the late nineteenth century and as an increasingly dominant world power in the twentieth, became one of the main destinations of East Asian emigrants. This historical pattern has resulted in an impressive literature. Asian immigration has followed a pattern of labor shortages followed by legal restrictions. Recruited as laborers during different periods (the Chinese, 1850-1882; the Japanese, 1885-1924; the Koreans, 1903-1905), East Asians often came first to work in the fields of Hawaii or in the western areas of the United States mainland. Many of the Hawaiian Asians later moved to the mainland, but as a result of Asian immigration, Hawaii in the 1990 census was the only state of the union where Asian Americans constituted the majority of the population. Until after World War II, Asian Americans were subjected to many discriminatory practices and laws. Their property rights and civil rights were often limited or violated, and...

(The entire section is 600 words.)