Racial Transformations

Latinos and Asians Remaking the United States

Racial Transformations

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: Published: April 2006

American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicanx and Latinx Studies

Moving beyond the black-white binary that has long framed racial discourse in the United States, the contributors to this collection examine how the experiences of Latinos and Asians intersect in the formation of the U.S. nation-state. They analyze the political and social processes that have racialized Latinos and Asians while highlighting the productive ways that these communities challenge and transform the identities imposed on them. Each essay addresses the sociopolitical predicaments of both Latinos and Asians, bringing their experiences to light in relation to one another.

Several contributors illuminate ways that Latinos and Asians were historically racialized: by U.S. occupiers of Puerto Rico and the Philippines at the end of the nineteenth century, by public health discourses and practices in early-twentieth-century Los Angeles, by anthropologists collecting physical data—height, weight, head measurements—from Chinese Americans to show how the American environment affected “foreign” body types in the 1930s, and by Los Angeles public officials seeking to explain the alleged criminal propensities of Mexican American youth during the 1940s. Other contributors focus on the coalitions and tensions between Latinos and Asians in the context of the fight to integrate public schools and debates over political redistricting. One addresses masculinity, race, and U.S. imperialism in the literary works of Junot Díaz and Chang-rae Lee. Another looks at the passions, identifications, and charges of betrayal aroused by the sensationalized cases of Elián González, the young Cuban boy rescued off the shore of Florida, and Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos physicist accused of spying on the United States. Throughout this volume contributors interrogate many of the assumptions that underlie American and ethnic studies even as they signal the need for a research agenda that expands the purview of both fields.

Contributors. Nicholas De Genova, Victor Jew, Andrea Levine, Natalia Molina, Gary Y. Okihiro, Crystal Parikh, Greg Robinson, Toni Robinson, Leland T. Saito


Racial Transformations is a timely contribution that challenges existing boundaries of scholarship and theory in compelling ways. . . . [De Genova] furthers our understanding of the complexities of Asian and Latino racial formations in the United States.” — Cynthia Feliciano, American Journal of Sociology

Racial Transformations is a unique volume that marvelously engages the intersection of Asian American and Latino Studies and helps us grasp the distinct patterns of racialization among groups considered neither white nor black.” — Michael Omi, Journal of American History

“Nicholas De Genova’s edited volume, Racial Transformations, is the first book-length publication to engage in a sustained and critical dialogue across Latino and Asian American studies . . . . Racial Transformations offers fascinating glimpses into the complex and often diverse trajectories of immigrant groups in the United States. De Genova’s collection is an original, well-documented, and thought-provoking intervention in the burgeoning fields of ethnic and racial studies.” — Jorge Duany, CENTRO Journal

“This volume is unique for the themes it joins together and its true interdisciplinarity. It expands our basic knowledge of different historical periods while pushing readers to reconsider dominant understandings of race, gender, sexuality, and class. It will undoubtedly become a standard pointing to important new directions for racial studies, and I would highly recommend it for use in any graduate or upper-division undergraduate course on race.” — Lisa García Bedolla, Journal of American Ethnic History

Racial Transformations challenges standard notions of racial meaning, racial identity, and racial politics. We need work like this: its comparative approach to Latino and Asian American racial formations helps us rethink many of the existing paradigms of race. A valuable contribution.” — Howard Winant, author of The New Politics of Race: Globalism, Difference, Justice

“This collection marks an important intervention in the history and historiography of ‘race,’ ethnicity, immigration, and citizenship in the United States. The essays offer important and provocative rationales for thinking through these complex issues from a broader comparative and critical perspective.” — David G. Gutiérrez, author of Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Nicholas De Genova is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Latino Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and “Illegality” in Mexican Chicago, also published by Duke University Press, and a coauthor of Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Latino and Asian Racial Formations at the Frontiers of U.S. Nationalism / Nicholas De Genova 1

Part One: Racial Science, Social Control

1. Colonial Vision, Racial Visibility: Racializations in Puerto Rico and the Philippines during the Initial Period of U.S. Colonization / Gary Y. Okihiro 23

2. Inverting Racial Logic: How Public Health Discourse and Standards Racialized the Meanings of Japanese and Mexican in Los Angeles, 1910–1924 / Natalia Molina 40

3. Getting the Measure of Tomorrow: Chinese and Chicano Americans under the Racial Gaze, 1934–1935 and 1942–1944 / Victor Jew 62

Part Two: Contradictions of Coalition

4. The Limits of Interracial Coalitions: Méndez v. Westminster Reexamined / Toni Robinson and Greg Robinson 93

5. The Political Significance of Race: Asian American and Latino Redistricting Debates in California and New York / Leland T. Saito 120

Part Three: Perils of Inclusion

6. Joining the State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Junot Díaz and Chang-rae Lee / Andrea Levine 147

7. The Passion: The Betrayals of Elián González and Wen Ho Lee / Crystal Parikh 170

Bibliography 209

Contributors 221

Index 223
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3716-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3704-1
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