PACIFIC MIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES
Trends and Themes in Historical and
RIIES Bibliographic Studies No. 2
Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1977
The Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic
Studies, founded in 1973, is organized under the
Smithsonian's Division of Science. The Research
Institute focuses on immigration flows which have
been affected by legislation since 1965. It also
explicitly includes American extraterritorial
jurisdictions among its scholarly concerns.
Roy S. Bryce-Laporte, Director
Delores M. Mortimer, Program Coordinator
Stephen R. Couch, Research Coordinator
Betty Dyson, Administrative Assistant
Constance M. Trombley, Secretary
PACIFIC MIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES
Trends and Themes in Historical and
RIIES Bibliographic Studies No. 2
SPrepared for the
Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1977
Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
Smithsonian Institution 1977
Library of Congress Card Catalog No. 77-78302
Author's Foreword ix
Historical Perspectives and Their Impact on Pacific
Migration Literature 1
Sociological Perspectives and Their Impact on Pacific
Migration Literature 22
The Asian-American Experience: Failure and Revision
in Historical and Sociological Perspectives 37
Asian-American Studies: Recent Trends and Themes 51
Bibliographic References 73
Appendix: Selected Recent Resources 84
The Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic
Studies (RIIES) is a small unit within the Division of
Science of the Smithsonian Institution. Since its
inception in 1973, RIIES has focused primarily on the
stimulation, facilitation, and dissemination of research
on immigration into the United States. It is perhaps
the only research institute in the country with specific
interest in new immigrants entering the country since
the Immigration Act of 1965. Also, included in its
scope of concerns are the extraterritorial jurisdictions
of the United States (both as donor and recipient
The Research Institute views international immi-
gration as a multifaceted process with various levels
of causation, impact, problems, and implications. Among
these are the areas of demography and development, inter-
national relations, foreign policy, health and urban
affairs, public service, employment and investment,
education and culture, ethnicity and mobility, law and
domestic policy, and, of course, theory and research.
With regard to the latter, RIIES has begun to sponsor
rather modest probings into areas of data and methodology
which may constitute important guidelines or preliminary
legwork for professional researchers, policymakers, and
other interested parties. Current studies involve
exploration to determine accessibility and condition of
data and their sources. To date, fieldwork has included
such special topics as: refugees; labor migrants;
immigrants to and from the extraterritorial jurisdictions;
reconnaissance of scattered loci of information on
immigration and foreign-stock populations in Washington,
D.C.; and the gathering of news and bibliographic items
on various aspects of United States immigration.
RIIES is pleased to announce this essay as the
second publication in its bibliographic series (see
section entitled "Past and Forthcoming RIIES Publica-
tions"). The author, Ms. Shirley Hune, was hosted and
advised by the Institute during the years of 1974 to
1976, while she held a pre-doctoral Smithsonian fellow-
ship -- a program administered through the Office of
Academic Studies. With training principally in history,
Ms. Hune is a doctoral candidate in American Studies at
George Washington University. She is a member of the
Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the
District of. Columbia and taught the first class in Asian-
American studies at the University of Maryland, College
Park. While at the Institute and as part of her prepara-
tion for the doctoral dissertation, Ms. Hune has pursued
archival research on the subject of social science theory
in American race relations and on the international
dimensions of the historical debates leading to U.S.
immigration policies toward Chinese and other Oriental
This essay reflects knowledge and insights gained
by the author during the course of her studies, research
and teaching. Its tone is definitely critical and
revisionist but, as such, is neither surprising nor
disappointing. Ms. Hune is Chinese-Canadian by birth.
Since coming to the United States she has had the experi-
ence of being in academic settings during a period of
time in which these institutions were arenas of much
political struggle and civil rights protests against the
inconsistencies of and inequities within U.S. society.
Her critical revisionist emphasis in no way contradicts
the basic orientation of the Institute which, among
other things, strives to encourage dialogue that will
result in new balance and new synthesis of what is
referred to as the "insider" versus "outsider" viewpoints
in the field of ethnic studies.
RIIES has stated quite explicitly its primary
concern to be the nature, experiences and implications
of the new immigration/immigrants to the United States
as of the passing of new laws in 1965. This immigration
is marked by a change in size of flow, composition of
source countries and characteristics of immigrants
themselves.- Coming from other than traditional European
sources, the new immigrant population tends to be
ethnically, culturally and occupationally different
from their predecessors. The movement is characterized
as well by a high percentage of women in the first
wave. Moreover, many new immigrants either come from
countries which have recently emerged as politically
independent nations, i.e., Philippines and Korea or
from older countries which previously did not figure
highly as donors to the American society, i.e., India.
Some "new immigrants" may be from old leading sources
but by their characteristics conform to the general
description of their new peers, for example, Mexico.
Not only do the new immigrants represent a
phase of the continued peopling of the United States
and cosmopolitization of its culture but they also
contribute to the continuing extension of levels of
linkages between peoples and communities in the United
States with other parts of the world. Different from
their European peers they and their U.S.-born offspring
will be viewed as a concomitant element to the "visible"
national minorities of this country, i.e., Afro-Americans,
Latinos, and Asian-Americans. They will share and compete
in whatever advancements are attained by their ethnic
predecessors in the struggle for equal treatment and
power within the United States. They will also suffer
the penalties and inequities generally experienced in
this society which historically has viewed its visible
minorities to be of low status, problematic but yet
The aspirations and particular needs of these
minorities have been disregarded in general. The schol-
arly advocates or cultural custodians amongst them have
been disqualified over the years unless they conformed
to so-called "standards" (too often meaning the priorities,
interests, belief systems and values) of the majority
group and the usually lower or token status reserved for
them in the institutional orders of the society. In the
process, and along such narrow terms, the visible minor-
ities have suffered an imposed invisibility -- a form of
denial or rejection which at best locates them outside
or below the norm, therefore making them different
from whatever is then viewed as typically American.
Ms. Hune relates this general experience to the
particular case of the Orientals or Asian-American
peoples whose presence in the United States is attribut-
able to what she calls the Pacific migration. Her work
takes the form of a critical historiographic essay on
the scholarly literature of migration and social exper-
iences of peoples of Pacific or Asian origin in the
United States. On the surface the historiographic
nature and historical period of this work would seem to
disqualify it as a concern with "new" immigrants/immi-
gration per se, for indeed, Asian migration to the United
States is neither just a recent or a new phenomenon. In
the minimum, the movement precedes by about one hundred
years the 1965 dateline for the legislation which led
to the new immigration. It was around the middle of
the last century that Orientals began to come to the
United States chiefly as laborers in the opening of the
Western frontier. Moreover, a serious consideration of
the Asian origin of Amerindian peoples who crossed the
Aleutian Strait to become the first known settlers of
the continent would render the notion of newness
But, in another sense, Asians do merit study as
part of the "new" immigration to the United States.
They comprise a significant element of the recent immi-
gration into the United States since the 1965 law that
removed legislative barriers which previously prevented
immigration of people of Oriental origins, particularly
those from the Pacific Triangle, into this country.
Statistically they represent the fastest increasing and
major proportion of new legal immigrants to the United
States. They are believed to also represent a high
proportion of current illegal immigration; a substantial
number entered as refugees, primarily from Indochina but
also from East Africa; and, together they comprise a
wide variety of circumstances and nationalities. Today,
Asian or Pacific migration into the United States
includes peoples from China, Taiwan, Indochina, South-
east Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the islands and
archipelagos of the Pacific (not excluding those from
U.S. overseas holdings in the region). They represent
the potential increase in number if not variation in the
Asian-American communities and by such virtue an expan-
sion and incrementation of the so-called visible ethnic
"minority" in the country.
Obviously then, a comprehensive work on the
Pacific migration could not be carried out within the
limits of the study. Ms. Hune has wisely limited herself
to work of realizable proportions and reasonable focus
-- the basic historical and some social scientific liter-
ature on Pacific migration to the United States. The
work concentrates on Chinese and Japanese and, to a
lesser extent, Pilipinos; these are the oldest and
perhaps largest of the significant Asian population to
have re-settled in the country. She includes a few of
the significant works now in print on such newcomers as
Koreans, Indochinese and Samoans.
It is Ms. Hune's contention that the historical
and social scientific literature on immigration and
race relations have pursued an accumulative progression.
Despite evidence of intergenerational differences, the
dialogue has not lead to any revolutionary breakthrough
in the position towards Orientals. And, the resulting
studies are incomplete and distorted, often Dutting the
weight of the problems on the Asian immigrants them-
selves. There is little structural analysis and almost
no evaluation of the interconnections between immigration
policy, racial attitudes and international relations.
Underlying the sociological theories and histori-
cal treatises on Asians done by established scholars she
sees a drive toward a homogenized ideal of society and
formulas for wishing away distinctiveness as represented
and expressed by the Oriental. In a sense even the
older schools of Asian scholars subscribe to this latter
posture insofar as their efforts to be defensive tended
to present a passive, conformist image of their people,
or at least those who became "successful" or "adjusted."
Finally, she questions the claim of scientific objectiv-
ity as a characteristic of the older studies; it is
neither plausible nor desirable.
In her own words Ms. Hune recognizes the influ-
ence of the Black experience and the critical literature
of the Black Studies movement. The strength of the
essay is not in its originality but in the author's
ability to apply similar thinking to the Asian-American
experience and her attempts to reassess the literature
about this latter population within a framework that
embraces the experiences of other visible minorities,
migratory or transplanted workers, and peoples from
developing nations within the United States. By so
doing she challenges both the stereotyped characteris-
tics of passivity and contentment and the myth of
exceptionality attributed to the Asian population in
the United States.
Although not offering any clear theoretical
alternatives of her own, the author does bring us up to
date on the newer trends in the field of ethnic studies
as it applies to Asians in America. These include
internal colonialism, middlemen theories and the restruc-
turing of world economic order. While she feels they
represent plausible models for correcting or complement-
ing the earlier works which she criticizes, her attitude
towards these newer trends is not one of uncritical
acceptance. Among other things she finds that they
generally impute to the Asian community a monolithic
character and condition which in turn obfuscates class
differences and internal conflict.
Finally her essay is preliminary and limited
in certain respects but it gives support to our own
conviction that ethnic studies can provide more than
information about particular ethnics per se. As a
serious field of study it can render unusual understand-
ing of the larger society or world and telling insights
about the scholars and the scholarship they employ in
studying (or presenting) ethnics. It is quite true
that ethnic studies will come into its own only when
its scholarship transcends mere criticism to include
solid, innovative and crucial studies of commission,
upon which positive action or thought can rest. Yet
scholars must never abandon their critical role or
allow themselves to become so smug and arrogant in their
claims as to deny the very real importance of reflective
efforts such as are contained in the following pages.
Dr. Roy S.^Laporte, Director
This project was completed with the assistance of
a number of individuals and the Smithsonian Institution.
I am especially grateful to Roy S. Bryce-Laporte for his
confidence in the idea and for the direction and support
of the project. I wish to thank the Office of Academic
Studies for the opportunities extended to me as a
Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellow and the staff
of the Smithsonian Institution Library for their help in
locating materials. I would also like to thank Lloyd
Inui, Franklin Odo, Carolyn Sadler, Steve Talbot, and
Stanford Lyman for their comments on earlier drafts.
Finally, I greatly appreciate the assistance of Delores
M. Mortimer, Stephen Couch, Constance Trombley and Betty
Dyson of the staff of the Research Institute on Immigra-
tion and Ethnic Studies, and Shanti Rivera and Laurel
Elmer in the completion of the final manuscript.
The initial impetus for this essay resulted from
my exposure to several years of reading in American
civilization, especially in the areas of immigration
and ethnicity, both as a student of American Studies and
as a teacher of a course on Asians in America. The
introduction of such a course and others like it across
the country was one of many consequences of demands for
social change which took place in the 1950s and the
1960s in the United States. Such events as the Civil
Rights movement, the Black Power movement, anti-Vietnam
War demonstrations, and urban and student riots, forced
many Americans to re-examine their institutional
structures and their central value system. One of the
institutions seriously challenged in these two decades
was the educational system.
Black Americans, historically the most excluded
and oppressed sector of the population, initiated
demands for institutional changes in education in the
50s by pushing for an end to segregated schools. In
the 1960s, they voiced the need for community control
of public schools and continued to demand desegregation.
In institutions of higher education, there were demands
for an increase in Black student enrolment and the
hiring of more minority faculty members and administra-
tors. In the 1970s, they demanded that their education
be relevant to the needs of Black communities and that
traditional curricula be revised to include the presence
*With due deference to the peoples of Central America, South America,
and the northern half of North America -- Canada -- I wish to state
that for purposes of economy in this essay the terms America and
Americans refer specifically to the United States, unless otherwise
and significance of Afro-Americans. Other groups such
as Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Chicanos, Puerto
Ricans, women, and some white ethnic groups made similar
demands. The legitimacy of the predominant white, middle
and upper class, with their patriarchal power structure,
Anglo-American perspective and control over knowledge
was challenged by these diverse groups during this tumul-
The rising swell of social unrest erupted into
protest demonstrations on hundreds of U.S. university
campuses in the late 60s, with many demands for educa-
tional reforms.2 The universities responded, many some-
what unwillingly, with a number of educational reforms.
The process of higher education in the U.S. was broadened
at its base with the introduction of more community and
two-year junior colleges. These institutions were to
provide some of the children of the white working class,
racial minorities, and older women (many of whom were
returning to school after raising children) with an
access to a college education. For the first time,
minorities and women were actively recruited into estab-
lished institutions as students and as faculty members.
This was spurred partly by Federal Government regulations.
In addition, the traditional liberal arts curricula came
under scrutiny and some modifications were made. Programs
and courses were introduced and the contents of some courses
were changed to incorporate non-traditional areas such
The term Asian-American as used here refers to persons of Asian
ancestry living in the United States being historically from the
countries and islands of Asia and the Pacific Rim. These include
such groups as Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Indians, Viet-
namese, Pilipinos and others. (The term Pilipino refers to persons
whose place of origin is the Philippine Islands. Since there is
no "f" sound in traditional Pilipino dialects, this has become the
preferred spelling and pronunciation in the contemporary Pilipino-
American community.) Presently, groups of Pacific Islanders from
the Trust Territories of the United States -- Samoans and
Guamanians -- along with Hawaiians are often included in this
larger nomenclature of Asian-American. In this essay, these groups
are all considered as part of the Pacific migration to the United
as Urban, Black, Ethnic and Women's Studies. Teaching
in elementary and secondary schools has also been
similarly affected. Thus in the educational milieu of
the 1970s, we can see a consequence of social protest
movements of the 1950s and 1960s: the first major change
in organizational structure and curriculum content of
the U.S. educational system since the aftermath of
While the legitimacy of these curricula and
administrative changes continues to be questioned by
some, and others fear for its survival,a major problem
for all those teaching in these fields hnd been the
inaccessibility of curriculum materials. Available
materials for classroom use are often lacking in any
systematic form and are often costly because of the want
of cheap paperbacks. Most importantly, most materials
are filled with biases, mis-interpretations and distor-
tions. Instructors have had to be especially innovative
in their teaching methodology and, for practical reasons,
many have had to assemble their own readers. Journals
addressing themselves to the interests of these areas
have been established, thereby facilitating research
and discussion. In the meantime, inveterate academic
journals are also giving some attention to these subject
areas. Even as the problem of availability of useful
curriculum materials becomes less acute, attention
continues to be drawn to the approach, perspective and
content of the available literature,
This essay was undertaken with the idea that an
evaluation of the literature in one of the new area
studies would be of assistance not only to educators,
but also to researchers and policymakers. For example,
since the inception of Asian-American Studies programs,
many monographs, articles, documents, and government
reports have appeared. Bibliographies have been com-
pleted, new journals begun, readers assembled, and
community and other research projects undertaken. There
is a new emphasis'on accurate but sensitive data collec-
tion. In addition, a number of professional journals
have published special issues on Asian-Americans.
However, there is yet to be a comprehensive review of
the literature on Pacific migration.
As has often been said about the minority or
ethnic group experience in the United States, the real
story remains to be told. The purpose of this essay is
to begin an exploration of Pacific migration literature
in an attempt to understand why certain omissions, mis-
interpretations and distortions have occurred. This
essay is, in part, a criticism of particular nerspec-
tives and concepts that have dominated the literature
and which, in some instances, continue to influence
contemporary thinking and research on Asian-Americans.
It is also an examination of more recent perspectives
which have attempted to re-interpret and broaden our
understanding of the Asian-American experience. It is
hoped that this preliminary effort at a review of some
aspects of the literature will be a contribution towards
a more definitive account of the lives of Asian-American
In a brief essay, it is not possible to engage
in a comprehensive review of the literature. Instead,
the essay will be broad, yet selective and interpretive.
The focus of this essay is on American perspectives of
immigration with particular emphasis on Pacific migra-
tion as a part of that phenomenon. The essay examines
how historians and social scientists have viewed the
Asian-American experience and the impact of their
perspectives on the literature. From these perspectives
have emerged specific trends and themes which this essay
attempts to highlight in the historical and social
science literature relating to Pacific migration. By
trend, I mean here a direction or conceptual approach
* See Appendix
toward the subject; a tendency or proneness to a parti-
cular kind of thought and analysis. By theme, I simply
mean a subject or topic. The essay is, therefore,
concerned with how certain assumptions, biases and
interests held by historians and social scientists have
shaped and, to some extent, defined the parameters for
studying the Asian American experience, as we know it
We no longer accept the claims of earlier
scholars who maintained that they could be "objective"
and "value-free" in their study of human society. Amer-
ican historians and social scientists are not only
dynamic parts of the social system which they describe,
interpret and analyze, but they are themselves products
of their own time and experience. They perceive the
world around them according to their own values, group
interests, social conditions, and assumptions about
life. Their conceptual world view is, of course, also
molded by the ideas and social climate of the historical
period in which they live. In this essay I shall
attempt to demonstrate how these world views have influ-
enced scholarly perspectives on the Asian presence in
the United States. Furthermore, since changing socio-
historical conditions can also lead to corresponding
changes in perspective, the essay will explore the
development of various concepts and views of Pacific
migration during different historical eras. However,
it should be noted that trends and themes in one era
are not necessarily replaced by new ones but that
earlier perspectives may still continue to influence the
writings of more recent historians and social scientists.
Therefore, this essay is also a study in the history of
ideas and the sociology of knowledge.
I have not specifically distinguished between
white American scholars and Asian-American scholars
since the essay focuses on the perspectives and concepts
of the historical and social sciences of which they
are representative, and not the scholars per se. Further-
more, I have not separated the literature on Pacific
migration according to national grouping but treated it
as a unit. I have also confined this study to a dis-
cussion of published and generally available scholarly
monographs and articles. These studies have been exam-
ined because they represent some of the authoritative
sources used by a wide variety of public and private
institutions and agencies. Not only are these sources
utilized for the training of professionals and the
general education of the public, but they are also relied
upon in formulating policies that affect the lives of
Asian-Americans. It is important, then, to consider
these views of the Asian-American experience. However,
due to the unevenness of the literature -- some Asian
groups and some aspects of Asian-American life have been
studied in greater detail than others -- most of the
examples used to illustrate trends and themes will be
drawn from materials about the Chinese and the Japanese
in the United States.
The essay is divided into four parts and is
organized topically and chronologically. The first
three parts consist of a review of selected Pacific
migration literature covering the period from the late
nineteenth century to the emergence of Ethnic Studies
programs in the 1960s. Part I is a discussion of
historical perspectives in American immigration and
how these views have contributed to certain trends in
Pacific migration literature. In Part II, specific
sociological perspectives and the influence of certain
social science concepts on the literature are examined.
Part III is a more detailed commentary on selected
themes in the Asian-American experience. It also
includes a discussion of some failures and revisions in
historical and social science perspectives relating to
Asians in America. Part IV is an exploration of recent
literature which has appeared since the emergence of
Asian-American Studies programs. In this section I make
note of some new trends and themes in Pacific migration
literature and some neglected areas of research. For
the benefit of the reader, Pacific migration literature
cited in the essay has been compiled in a separate
section, entitled Bibliographic References. Appendix I
also includes a listing of some of the major contempo-
rary resources relating to Asians in the United States.
Finally, although the literature on Pacific
migration has been this essay's point of reference, the
study was not meant to be limited to the student of the
Asian-American experience. It is hoped that this pre-
liminary exploration into an analysis of selected
literature on Asian-Americans will also have some
comparative value for writings on other minority groups,
and, that the student of immigration, ethnicity, and
American civilization will find it useful,
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES AND THEIR IMPACT
ON PACIFIC MIGRATION LITERATURE
THE ASIAN IMMIGRANT AS "INVISIBLE" OR "EXCEPTIONAL"
The migration of peoples from the countries and
islands of Asia and the Pacific rim is but one phase of
the movement of the world's population to the United
States. However, the major trend in U.S. immigration
history has been to omit this phase, to treat it Deri-
pherally, or at best, to view the migration from Europe
and Asia as separate phenomena and not as integral
parts of American civilization. A cursory glance over
the general literature on immigration might lead one
to conclude that either the Pacific migration never
happened, that it was unimportant, or that it was too
unique to be considered as part of the general history
of the United States.
An explanation for this major trend in immi-
gration historiography can be found in the social
backgrounds, training, and ideological perspectives of
American historians. John King Fairbank, in his presi-
dential address to the American Historical Association
in December 1968, spoke critically against the profes-
sion. He argued that American historians have not only
been parochial and "myopic" but ahistorical. They have
viewed America primarily in its relationship with one
part of the world, namely, Europe. He pointed out that
the United States has interacted with East Asia as well
as with Europe and that U.S.-East Asian relations have
had an impact on the internal development of the United
States since the early 19th century.8 Elsewhere, Fair-
bank has suggested that the tendency to view East Asia,
particularly China, as "unique" has not only limited
the perspective of American historians but has also led
them to view U.S.-East Asian relations as somewhat
"special"and different. Although Fairbank is concerned
here with East Asia and U.S.-East Asia relations, his
comment on the "myopia" of American historians sheds
some light on why immigrants from East Asia have been
omitted, neglected, or treated as an exceptional case
in American immigration history.
This trend began as early as the late nineteenth
century with the first generation of professional his-
torians. This was at a time when Asian immigrants had
been present in the United States for forty years. The
idea that the United States is a "nation of nations"
is so much a part of our everyday language (especially
in the past Bicentennial and election year) that it is
difficult for some of us to realize that immigration
has not always been a field of study in American his-
tory. Edward Saveth in his study, American Historians
and European Immigrants, 1875-1925, found that the first
generation of academic historians paid little attention
to the role that immigrants played in the development
of the nation. In a review of the works of leading
historians of the time, Saveth noted that their interests
centered around politics and the uniqueness of the
American nation. The subject of European immigrants
was always treated as a side issue to their main discus-
sion on the American experience. If European immigrants
were treated as an aside, Asians were nowhere to be
By the last two decades of the nineteenth century,
history had become an academic profession in the United
States. The university became an institutional base
for the training and employment of historians, and
historians were increasingly applying the "scientific
method" to the study of history.11 However professional
these historians believed themselves to be, their assump-
tions blinded them from acknowledging the place and role
of immigrants in the development of the United States.
These historians were generally male, Protestant and
from the middle and upper classes. They were descendents
of early Anglo-Saxon stock and proud of their English
heritage. Their intellectual training was intertwined
with current European thought. They came to maturity
in the age of Social Darwinism when racist ideology
thrived on the doctrine of natural selection. This
doctrine was an accepted justification of the then pre-
vailing power structure which "naturally" excluded
Blacks and similarly "inferior" races from determining
their own destiny, thus systematically segregating them.
During this same period, America was accepting large
numbers of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe
and only a small number from Asia. The historians of
that time were confident of the superiority of their
origins and yet somewhat fearful both of the Black popu-
lation and the "new" immigrants. They hoped that the
newcomers would adapt themselves to Anglo-Saxon insti-
tutions, but their fear only served to strengthen a
group consciousness which was more vociferously asserted.
They viewed American civilization largely as a part of
Europe, albeit an exceptional extension of Western
civilization.12 As members of the ruling elite, these
historians saw themselves as the guardians of that
culture and civilization.
Although these scholars professed to be "scien-
tific" in their approach to history, their ideas were
formulated in an age of excessive racist ideology. The
predominant concept developed in this epoch to explain
American history was the racist theory of Teutonic
origins. In an age of nationalism and imperialism,
when the United States acquired an empire in the
Caribbean and Asia, historians (and political scientists)
asserted that the genius of the nation could be found
in the "Teutonic" origins or "germ theory" of its
political institutions, practices and ideas. Anglo-
Saxon peoples of the world, it was argued, were especi-
ally destined to rule. The impact of this mode of
thought on historical writing in the United States was
to focus attention primarily on institutions and their
"Teutonic" origins, with limited attention to the role
of the general population in the nation's development.
Immigrants, especially non-Western European peoples,
were peripheral to their concerns.3
RACISM AND ASSIMILATION
It was left largely to journalists and mission-
aries in the late nineteenth century to contribute
materials on Asians.14 An exception to this general
tendency on the part of historians to ignore the
presence of Asian immigrants was Hubert Howe Bancroft
who wrote several volumes on the Pacific regions.
His writings were, however, generally racist, reflecting
the current ideology of the day namely the Teutonic
origins of the American nation. As a native Californian
descended from one of the state's first American families,
he was also a California "booster." For Bancroft, civil-
ization had advanced through migration from east to
west. He saw civilizations in Asia give way to civili-
zations in Europe. In turn, European civilization had
passed over to the Anglo-Saxons. From the Anglo-Saxons,
civilization had passed on to America. Even within the
United States, he believed that the American civiliza-
tion which had begun on the east coast would be trans-
ferred westward to California where it would reach its
pinnacle. California was to be the height of Western
civilization from which "the seed of Anglo-Saxon culture"
would be scattered "among the retrograde nations of the
south and orient."
Like others of his time, Bancroft viewed the
presence of immigrants in very narrow terms. He noted
the contribution that immigrants and "Africans" had
made to America through their labor and skill, yet, he
questioned their social cost to society and saw their
presence as a potential problem. Furthermore, Bancroft
abhorred the arrival of "low" and ignorant classes from
"the cesspools of Europe." He opposed assimilation
(this included assimilation with southern and eastern
Europeans) which he viewed essentially as the amalgama-
tion of the races. According to Bancroft, the Anglo-
Saxons were a superior race and the infusion of other
races would only debase American civilization.
Although Bancroft acknowledged the useful role
that Asian immigrants performed as part of the labor
force in the West, he never intended for them to become
citizens or to participate in government. He regarded
Asian immigrants as aliens and thought even less of
Asian women, most of whom he considered to be prostitutes.
His statement, "We want the Asiatic for our low-grade
work, and when it is finished we want him to go home
and stay there until we want him again," typified what
the average American thought about Asians: they were
available for exploitation and then discarded.16 Ban-
croft's assertions were similar to the ones used by
restrictionists in their efforts to exclude Asian
immigrants during this period. Thus, while Bancroft
included the Pacific migration in his history of the
Far West, his biased descriptions contributed more to
the support of anti-Asian movements than to scholarly
A second factor contributing to the "invisibility"
of the Pacific migration has been the historian's belief
in assimilation, by the turn of the twentieth century,
the prevailing ideology held by American historians had
shifted away from the theory of "Teutonic" origins to
that of assimilationist ideology which has heavily
influenced historical thinking to this day. This new
belief system was also to have its impact upon the study
of immigration. In a self-criticism of the profession,
Rudolph Vecoli pointed out that serious research on
immigration and ethnicity had been neglected because of
the overwhelming belief that all immigrants would be
transformed by the environment and republican institu-
tions into a "new" person -- an American.17 From the
days of J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, the notion of
assimilation, the process of Americanization, or the
idea of the U.S. as a "melting pot" has been part of
the American Creed. This was generally believed to be
not only desirable but also natural and inevitable.
However, it was not until the end of the nineteenth
century that some "scientific" basis was found for this
commonly held belief.
In 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner presented his
now-famous paper on "The Significance of the Frontier in
American History." Turner's concept of the frontier as
the determining factor in American civilization altered
the perspective of the next generation of historians
and revolutionized American historiography by turning
its focus inward and away from Europe. Moreover, the
frontier hypothesis lent scholarly credibility to the
ideology of America as'a melting pot. The United States
was still studied as a part of Western Civilization but
it became more than just an extension of Europe. Its
unique character grew out of the westward migration of
its peoples across the expanding American frontier.
The impact of settlement on the people gave them a
common experience, and thus, a common identity. The
frontier became the melting pot in which peoples of
different origins were molded into one people. Turner
is now viewed by many as an environmental determinist
but his influence and that of his students on U.S.
history and immigration history has been and continues
to be immense.18 The idea of the U.S.A. as a culturally
pluralistic society is a very recent phenomenon. Accord-
ing to Turner's frontier thesis it was expected that
differences amongst Americans would soon disappear.
Therefore, the immigrant was not to be a subject worthy
of serious study for he was becoming essentially obsolete.
This Turnerian impact on immigration history
only reinforced the trend to omit, neglect, or treat
the Asian immigrant in a separate or exceptional manner.
The racist ideology of the "Teutonic" origins theory had
left little room for Asians to be seen in any context
other than as temporary sources of labor. The frontier
thesis, on the other hand, split the migration process
of Europeans and Asians into two separate and distinct
experiences. As American historians described it, the
history of the nation followed the migration of peoples,
ideas and institutions from across the Atlantic and
then across the great expanse of the frontier. The
United States, therefore, is interconnected with Europe
and its unique character is the product of the inter-
action of its people with their American environment.
Thus, American historians ignored or overlooked the
notion that peoples, ideas and institutions could come
from across the Pacific; that East Asia was intimately
interrelated with the history of the United States; and
that the region of the Far West was undergoing agricul-
tural and industrial development that could have an
impact on other regions of the country. As long as
their eyes remained fixed on the Atlantic and the
frontier, they could not explain the significance of
the Asian presence in America. In this circumscribed
view of the world, the Pacific migration could not be
understood except as an atypical phenomenon. Accordingly,
in the preface to her classic reference work on immi-
grants (1924), Edith Abbott had concluded that "the
study of European immigration should not be complicated
for the student by confusing it with the very different
problems of Chinese and Japanese immigration."19
Concomitantly, the assimilationist and European
biases in the frontier thesis further reinforced the
belief in the superiority of Anglo-Saxon peoples. It
appeared that the frontier experience could only trans-
form Atlantic immigrants into Americans. There was,
then, a clear distinction made between immigrants who
were not just culturally different but racially different.
In a period in which the ideology of biological racism
prevailed alongside that of assimilation, Asians were
viewed as inferior and unassimilable. Not even the
frontier or republican institutions could transform
Asians into Americans.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: "SCIENTIFIC" IMMIGRATION
Modern immigration studies are said to have
begun in 1921 with Arthur M. Schlesinger's article,
"The Significance of Immigration in American History,"
published, interestingly, in the American Journal of
Sociology.20 Written at the end of the restrictionist
movement, the article is a reappraisal of American view-
points on immigration and immigrants. Restrictionists
had stressed the contributions of Anglo-Saxons to Amer-
ican life and institutions relative to the inferiority
of other groups. However, with the passage of national
origins quotas in the 1920s, most Americans could
assume that the immigration "problem" was over. Schle-
singer's article concerned changing the American
perspective based on his belief that immigration should
not be viewed as a "social problem" but as a "dynamic
factor in America's development." He also represented
a new group of American historians interested in a
"New History" which was to broaden the discipline and
encompass some aspects of the social sciences.
These pioneers in immigration studies, Schle-
singer, George Stephenson, Thomas Blegan, Carl Wittke
and, later, Marcus Lee Hansen, were all midwesterners
who had personally and intimately been involved with
the immigrant experience as sons of Scandinavian and
German immigrants.21 They reacted against the thinking
of the first generation of professional historians of
Anglo-Saxon heritage who saw little value in the study
of immigration and who generally hoped that immigrants
would quickly become Americanized (i.e., conform to
the Anglo-Saxon norms). Also, in response to the work
done by those whom they considered "amateurs" these
historians argued that immigration studies should meet
more rigorous criteria. They emphasized the use of
primary sources such as letters, diaries, and church
records with the application of scientific methodology.
In spite of this new emphasis on "scientific"
studies of immigration, American perspectives on Asians
in the United States had not changed fundamentally.
While the immigrant experience was now an acknowledged
part of American history and civilization, it was still
narrowly regarded as an experience for Europeans only.
The Pacific migration continued to be treated on the
periphery of the American experience, if mentioned at
all. Even Schlesinger's new viewpoint on the immigrant
experience ignored the existence of non-Europeans. For
Schlesinger, America's "national purpose" was "to create
a democracy of diverse cultures" which would include
the heritages of people from "every European background."22
Similarly, Asians were relegated to an aside in
the major surveys of U.S. immigration which appeared
in this period. In a first attempt at a synthesis of
American immigration in monograph form, George Stephen-
son left his discussion of Asians to a separate section,
entitled "The Oriental Immigration." In excluding
Asians from the main body of his work, Stephenson
separated them from his description of the political
aspects of American immigration history.' Furthermore,
Carl Wittke, who expanded Schlesinger's theme into a
full length book, argued that there was little difference
between immigrants who came over in the seventeenth
century and whose who arrived in the nineteenth.
Wittke also notes in his introduction to the chapter on
"Oriental Immigration" that "the story of Oriental
immigration is a brief and strange interlude in the
general account of the great migration to America."24
Upon closer examination, one can see that both Schle-
singer and Wittke, descendants of the "new" immigration,
were concerned primarily with the acceptance and inte-
gration of the "new" European immigrant experience with
the "old" Anglo-Saxon experience.
These pioneers of "scientific" immigration
studies were Turnerians at heart. Although the emphasis
on racial stock as a basis for determining history began
to be discredited by the 1920s, the perspective of
American historians remained fixed upon the Atlantic
and the frontier. As a consequence of this myopia, the
persistence of racism, the cultural chauvinism of immi-
gration historians, and the concept of the frontier as
a melting pot, the Pacific migration continued to be
treated extraneously to the general immigrant experience,
and thereby as a nonintegral part of American civilization.
Perhaps Asians would just go away as Hubert Howe Bancroft
hoped; but Asians remained and historical studies began
to appear. Notable works in the early period are Mary
Coolidge's Chinese Immigration (1909), Bruno Lasker's
Filipino Immigration to the Continental United States
and Hawaii (1931), and Yamato Ichihashi's cJapa.U'e in
the United States (1932). Despite some serious short-
comings, they remain standard reference tools today.
Marcus Lee Hansen, writing in the 1940s, is
considered the first serious student of American
Immigration. Although his work altered American pers-
pectives on immigration, Hansen reinforced certain
assumptions held by earlier Eurobiased historians.
Deeply influenced by Frederick Jackson Turner, he
applied Turner's concept of the frontier and its influ-
ence on the development of America to that of Europe.
For Hansen, the immigrant experience was not confined
to the frontier, but was part of a larger phenomenon
which included a European experience.25 American
immigration was one aspect of the expansion of Europe.
He further envisaged immigration not as a "problem" but
as a "process" which encompassed both emigration and
settlement.26 In addressing himself to the conditions
and forces in Europe which contributed to the emigration
of Europeans, Hansen gave the immigrant experience a
broader historical perspective by relating it to events
outside the United States.2
While Hansen moved away from the racist assump-
tion that there was a fundamental difference between
the "old" and the "new" immigrants, he reinforced the
belief in the exclusiveness of the experience of
Atlantic and Pacific immigrants. Hansen was unable to
break from a Eurocentric or Eurobiased view of American
history, or the Turnerian notion of American civilization
in which the nation is developed in a east to west
progression as the people interact with the frontier.
He also believed in the inevitability of assimilation.
It is clear that if the immigration process was to be
explained within'the limitations set by Turner, then
there would be no place for Asians in the development
and formation of American civilization.
Despite this serious drawback, immigration
historiography owes a debt to Hansen because of his
stress on the "emigration" aspect of the American
experience. Literature on the Asian-American experience
reflects this change in immigration thought. For
example, Barth (1964), Hosokawa (1969), Kim (1971),
Conroy and Miyakawa (1972), Lyman (1974) and many others
all examine the society from which Asians came and the
circumstances leading to their emigration to the United
States. Students of immigration thereafter asked not
only who came but from where and why.
Oscar Handlin took up where Turner and Hansen
left off. He followed the immigrants from Europe to
America and traced their settlement and adjustment
patterns in urban areas.28 As a product of the "new
history" many of his ideas and views were influenced by
the social science thinking of the time. It is in his
work, and that of his students, that we begin to find
an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of immigra-
tion. Although Handlin, like Hansen, did not contribute
directly to the body of literature on Pacific migration,
his work influenced American perspectives on immigration
which, in turn, has affected writing and research on
By the middle of this century, the idea of
America as a culturally pluralistic society began to
attract some attention amongst the general public. Yet,
the main concern of academics studying immigration
remains centered around the assimilation of culturally
diverse groups into the American mainstream. Handlin's
work reinforced assimilationist ideology, although he
views it in somewhat more complex terms. For Handlin,
the immigrant group's settlement often resulted in a
period of heightened group consciousness, but the
process of acculturation, conflict and assimilation was
inevitable. In this respect, Handlin's process of
immigrant adjustment incorporated the work of sociologist
Robert E. Park whose work will be discussed in greater
detail later in this essay. While Park suggested that
immigrants as individuals rass through a cycle of
rejection and accommodation before acceptance, Handlin
applied this cycle of adjustment to the immigrant group
and adapted Park's cycle to the study of socio-economic
mobility. Handlin maintained that an immigrant group
would become assimilated once it had achieved a certain
stage of socio-economic mobility. With time, hard work,
and the "tolerance" of their neighbors, an immigrant
group could overcome even racism to achieve the American
Dream.29 Handlin does not distinguish between racial
and ethnic groups, but regards the experience of colon-
ists, immigrants, and former slaves as essentially the
same. Therefore, in The Newcomers, he considered
Negroes from the American South and Puerto Ricans as
merely the latest arrivals to share in the American
experience. Responding to the need for cheap labor in
the great cosmopolitan cities of America, Negroes and
Puerto Ricans have come to play out the role first
assumed by European immigrants.30 The city thus becomes
Handlin's crucible for the process of assimilation.
Handlin's concept of the American immigrant
experience has had enormous impact upon the literature.
His views of acculturation, conflict and group mobility
are a part of the contemporary perspective on immigrants
which is reflected in recent studies of the Asian
American experience. R. H. Lee (1960), Sung (1967),
and Hsu (1972) represent examples of Handlin's influ-
ence on the process of Chinese American adaptation.
Petersen (1966), and the many essays in Conroy and
Miyakawa (1972), examine various aspects of Japanese
American assimilation and acculturation, while Navarro
(1974) discusses how newly arrived Pilipinos become
acculturated in America.
Furthermore, Handlin added a new dimension to
American immigration studies. He did not confine his
studies to the Atlantic migration and he also acknow-
ledged the role that racial prejudice has played in
American life.31 However, Handlin's concepts rested on
certain false assumptions including the notion that
racism was a temporary phenomenon of individual misedu-
cation and misunderstanding which would soon be overcome.
He also assumed that Americans, as a "people of plenty"
with an unlimited capacity for economic growth, would
always find room for newcomers. This perspective of
the immigrant group experience also rested on the belief
that "newcomers" and other racial and ethnic groups
would be accepted by the earlier immigrants and allowed
to share in the economic abundance of America. Thus,
Handlin held out great promise for racial minorities to
fully participate in the American Dream.
Far from being the "invisible" immigrants,
Asians, and particularly Japanese-Americans, were
regarded as "exceptional" because they were a -4E-
minority group. In spite of the discrimination they
had endured, Asians had managed, largely through hard
work and traditional culture, to overcome even racism
and attain a certain amount of socio-economic success.
Under the influence of Handlin's assimilation perspective,
recent scholarly work on Pacific migration has been
concerned with what is seen as the rapid socio-economic
mobility of Chinese and Japanese-Americans as compared
with other racial and ethnic minority groups. Petersen
has described this "anomaly" of the Japanese-American
experience throughout his works (1966 and 1971). R. H.
Lee (1960), Sung'(1967) and Hsu (1971) suggest that
Chinese-Americans' participation in the American Dream
is within grasp if only they reach out for it. Other
scholars sought to explain this unique group achievement
through specific studies of Japanese and Chinese person-
ality and culture. (This will be discussed in greater
detail later in the essay.) Thus the Pacific migration,
formerly an "invisible" and unassimilable group, is
now recognized for its exceptionalism. The Handlin
model of group mobility, achievement and ultimate assim-
ilation has helped to support the popularly held belief
of Asian exceptionalism. This exceptional "success"
story (positive though it may be) has been challenged
in the contemporary period and proved lacking in
evidence which will be discussed in a later section.
Finally, in 1960, with Maldwyn Jones's American
Immigration, there is a change in the interpretation
of Pacific migration and all other non-European migra-
tions. His study is the first survey to incorporate
the Pacific migration into the general context of
American immigration without treating it as something
separate or different. (It is interesting to note that
Jones is a British scholar of American civilization and
not a native-born American.) Albeit, the omission
and/or exceptional treatment of Pacific migration still
persists in the contemporary literature.
In summary, it can be seen that the predominate
trend in the historical literature is the neglect of
the Pacific migration phase of American immigration.
At best, American historians have considered this phase
unique and too unusual to be considered part of the
general American experience. For the most part, this
perspective of Pacific migration supported by historians
was influenced by their Eurocentric or Eurobiased view
of the world, their racism and cultural chauvinism, and
the ideology of assimilation. An important consequence
of this trend in American immigration historiography has
been the limited research and study of the Asian-
American experience. As a self-fulfilling prophecy,
the absence of materials on Pacific migration contributes
to the belief of its insignificance to an understanding
of American civilization.
Some historians did contribute to the field of
Pacific migration studies. In the next sections,
comment will be made on two other trends in the litera-
ture -- the Asian immigrant as "contribution" and the
Asian immigrant as "object."
THE ASIAN IMMIGRANT AS "CONTRIBUTION"
A further review of the historical literature
on Asians in America suggests that they have been
studied generally in terms of "contributions" they have
made to the United States. This narrow perspective of
the Asian-American experience is not restricted to
Pacific immigrants alone. Rather, it is a reflection
of a larger trend in American immigration historiography
to regard all immigrants largely as "contributions" to
U.S. civilization. Although it originated at the turn
of the-century, this perspective of the immigrant
experience still influences the contemporary-literature.
The subject of .immigration as an-aspect of U.S.
history was not seriously considered until the first
two decades of the twentieth century. It was the immi-
grant or the child of :immigrants who became the first
recorders of immigration history. In turning (as each
generation has) to re-examine past history the immigrant
reinterpreted his historical role in a new but also
limited perspective. Where immigrant groups were previ-
ously either omitted from U.S. history or treated
peripherally, they now become accounted for in terms of
their "contribution'. to the society, thus introducing
a new trend in immigration literature.
During this period, a number of general portraits
of predominantly European immigrant groups appeared.
Each portrait emphasized the special character of its
ethnic or racial stock, its cultural and intellectual
"gifts" to America, and the compatibility of the group's
heritage with such traditional American characteristics
as love of liberty and democracy.33 These studies
generally praised the-exceptional .immigrant and listed
the great men and women of science and the arts who had
made major "contributions" to their newly adopted
The next generation of immigration historians
considered these first works by the immigrants them-
selves to be ahistorical, lacking in scientific
methodology, and more importantly, "filiopietistic."
Furthermore, these scholars asserted (perhaps partly
out of professional group interests and ethnic biases)
that the immigrant as an historian was an "amateur."
However, the characteristics of this trend in U.S.
immigration studies must be considered in conjunction
with the period in which these works appeared.
The beginning of this century was marked by a
long and bitter public debate over the restriction of
southern and eastern European immigrants. (Asian groups
had already been severely restricted from entry.) Many
Americans, mostly of Anglo-Saxon ancestry, suspected
the "new" immigrants of being potential social threats
to the stability of U.S. civilization because of their
different cultural heritages and their low social class
status. Sensitive to these generalized attacks and to
their continued reference as a "problem" in American
society, immigrant groups made an effort to stress
their positive aspects as against the negative ones
attributed to them by supporters of the restrictionist
movement. Therefore, these first immigrant group
histories were written largely by immigrants in defense
of their existence in the United States. That many
still relied upon the value and contribution of their
racial "stock" to justify their presence suggests that
racist interpretations of the development of America
were still influential. To call them filiopietistic
may not be entirely correct.34 Other immigrant groups
which could not defend their value along racial lines
because of their distinct difference from the Anglo-
Saxon norm were often left with little recourse but to
seek the sympathy of the American people and attempt to
dispel myths and stereotypes. It is under these circum-
stances that one of the first surveys of the Asian-
American experience appears. In The Real Chinese in
America '(1923), J. S. Tow (then Secretary of the Chinese
Consulate General at New York) defended the presence of
the Pacific migration. The purpose of the book, he
stated in the Preface, was "to give the general American
public a fuller knowledge and a better understanding of
the Chinese people in the United States."
In the decades that Tollowed, immigration histo-
rians directed greater attention to historical method-
ology but their perspective of American immigration did
not change greatly. Immigrants continued to be regarded
largely in terms of their "contributions" to America.
This trend is neither confined to any historical period
nor is it limited to "insiders" writing the history of
their own immigrant group. Contemporary materials
reveal that Pacific migration literature has not escaped
this trend. For example, in S. W. King's Chinese in
American Life (1962), Betty Lee Sung's Mountain of Gold
(1967), Bill Hosokawa's Nisei: The Quiet Americans
(1969) and H. Brett Melendy's The Oriental Americans
(1972), one finds general accounts of Chinese or
Japanese immigration with special references to their
"contributions" to the United States. It is through
such accounts that one learns of Asian American Nobel
Prize winners, scientists, war heroes, academicians,
artists, and other notables.
Notwithstanding the positive objectives and
attributes of this distinct trend in immigration histo-
riography, the emphasis on immigrant "contributions"
has resulted in an incomplete and one-sided portrait of
U.S. immigration. When the study of immigration becomes
focused on a few "great" individuals and their "contri-
butions," one learns very little about the group as a
whole or the other members of the immigrant community.
Similarly, when U.S. immigrants are studied with regard
to what they can do for the United States vis-a-vis
cultural and social accomplishments, we suffer from a
dearth of information about their economic and political
influence upon U.S. society. Not only were studies of
the everyday existence of immigrants and their commun-
ities neglected, but we learn even less about changes
in mainstream U.S. society which resulted from the
presence of different immigrant groups. Therefore,
while it is important to recognize the accomplishments
of outstanding Asian-Americans and to acknowledge the
significance of Asian cuisines, art and architecture,
much of the history of Asian peoples in the United
States still remains to be written.
THE ASIAN IMMIGRANT AS "OBJECT"
A third major trend in the historical literature
relating to Asians in the United States has been the
tendency on the part of historians to study what
happened to Asians rather than to record what they did.
This objectified perspective has persisted throughout
the literature from the turn of the twentieth century
to the present. This is not to suggest that all work
concerned with what happened to Asians in the U.S. is
to be dismissed. In fact, much of the work is outstand-
ing. But, it is important to point out that this trend
in the literature, for various reasons, once again has
distorted Asian-American history. One finds that
Asians are portrayed primarily as passive victims rather
than participating members in U,S. society. The reader
can only assume after a review of the literature that
they are objects rather than the subjects of historical
events. Furthermore, as an aspect of this trend, Asians
become part of United States history only insofar as.
something terrible is being done to them, and are
historically ignored during all other periods.
For example, the major focus of historical
research on Asians has been the various movements
organized in opposition to the Pacific migration. These
studies have generally fallen into two categories, the
first of which relates to movements to restrict Asian
immigration. Such works as Coolidge (1909), Bailey
(1934), Cross (1935), Sandmeyer (1939), Daniels (1962),
Saniel, ed. (1967), Hess (1969), and Saxton (1971) are
among the many attempts to explain the origins of
different movements to restrict Chinese, Japanese,
Pilipino and Indian ("Hindu") immigration to the United
States. A second field of research has centered around
the Japanese-American concentration camps during World
War II. McWilliams (1944), Grodzins (1949), tenBroek
et al. (1954), Bosworth (1967), Girdner and Loftis
(1969), and Daniels (1971 and 1975) are but a few of
the numerous monographs and articles outlining and
explaining the events leading up to the decision to
relocate Japanese-American citizens. While these works
and others like them tell us much about the circumstances
and the persons who opposed Asians, this approach to
Asian-American history ignores the Asians themselves in
these most important circumstances of their lives.
Roger Daniels has suggested that this unfortunate
literary trend to objectify the Asian-American experience
is due largely to the problem of research materials. It
is assumed by many students of immigration that histori-
cal documents do not exist largely because many immigrants
were illiterate and, therefore, did not leave any
materials. Others contend that documents are inaccessible
(perhaps uncatalogued or gathering dust in attics) or,
even if generally available, would necessitate
their translation. Today this is an inadequate explan-
ation. Responsibility for the paucity of accurate
accounts of minority group history rests upon the values
of the larger society. Adequate materials are available.
In the past, they have not been tapped because it was
not deemed important enough to the history of American
civilization.36 As John King Fairbank has pointed out
with respect to the inadequacy of American studies of
East Asia, language is not the problem.37 Or, as
Rudolph Vecoli has stated, "When the profession places
a correct evaluation upon ethnic studies, students will
acquire the necessary linguistic facility."38 Thus,
one can only conclude here that when American historians
consider it important enough, we will begin to see
efforts towards a more definitive account of not only
Asian-American history, but of American immigration and
civilization as well.
In summary of this brief review of the major
historical trends in Pacific migration literature, I
have attempted to demonstrate that our knowledge and
understanding of the Asian-American experience (and of
the immigrant experience in general) has been limited
by the training, assumptions, and perspectives of
American historians. The Pacific migration has either
been dismissed entirely as a dynamic force in American
civilization, treated peripherally or as an exception
to the general immigrant experience. It has been
contemplated largely in terms of its "great men and
women" and of their "contributions" to America. Further-
more, one has learned primarily about what was done to
Asians in the U.S. and very little about what they did.
The next section explores some aspects of the socio-
logical literature and examines the impact of various
social theories upon Pacific migration literature.
SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES AND THEIR IMPACT
ON PACIFIC MIGRATION LITERATURE
After the 1920s, much of the study of American
immigration was taken up by social scientists, especi-
ally sociologists. When they turned their attention to
the migration phenomenon, social scientists generally
focused on one particular facet -- the immigrant in
American society. Out of this concern grew the great
interest and research into the field now commonly
referred to as "majority-minority" or "race and ethnic
During the early part of the twentieth century,
the social sciences had gained new credibility with the
challenges they posed to racial theories of social
development. In spite of this, social scientists, like
their fellow historians, were constrained by their own
perspectives. First, as members of the "old" immigra-
tion, the Anglo-American world was their point of refer-
ence as well. There was a tendency, then, to view the
"new" immigrant as an outsider -- a type of stranger.
Secondly, American social science thought was and
continues to be heavily influenced by an order-consensus
or structural-functionalist ("system paradigm") approach
to society. This view of society has generally been
supported by those favoring the maintenance of the
status quo and has often been identified with the estab-
lished professionals in the social sciences.39
Briefly, in this approach society is viewed as
a dynamic system of many integrative parts held in
delicate balance. Changes in any of the parts may lead
to a disfunction or imbalance in the system. It is
expected, though, that a new consensus would help rein-
tegrate the parts and re-establish the equilibrium.
The emphasis in this concept of society is the desire
for stability and harmony.40
The belief in a "system paradigm" of American
society led many social scientists to consider that the
major issue of the twentieth century was the presence
of so many "outsiders." How could a single nation be
formed out of such a racially, ethnically and culturally
varied population with a minimum of disruption and
disorder? This consideration followed from the prevail-
ing belief that only through a homogenous society and a
consensus of values could American society avoid conflict
and exist in harmony, Diversity symbolized disunity
and this, in turn, would weaken the viability of the
American society. The solution to this potential problem
appeared to be the integration of these different groups
into the dominant society. Sociologists, therefore,
became interested in studying not the immigrants, per
se, but the integration process of the immigrant into
American majority society. The student of immigration
and ethnicity finds, then, that social science materials
in this area are limited in scope and reflect the
predominate trend to study the integration of the
"stranger." Because social scientists defined American
society largely in cultural terms, they were concerned
primarily with the social integration or acculturation
of racial and ethnic groups and neglected other aspects.
Pacific migration literature has also reflected this
bias. In this section of the essay, I will examine the
major social theories of integration and discuss the
impact of these concepts on the study and research of
THE ASSIMILATIONIST MODEL AND ASIAN AMERICANS
The first and most persistent model of American
integration has been that of assimilation. The idea of
the United States as a melting pot had been popularly
conceived and expressed long before the appearance of
sociologist Robert E. Park. Historians had often relied
upon the "frontier" to complete the transformation of
the immigrant into an American. However, it was not
until Park outlined his race-relations cycle that social
scientists had a model that would explain how the melt-
inR Dot would be achieved in structural terms. No one
social scientist has been more influential in the field
of race and ethnic relations than Robert E. Park. His
ideas have altered social science thought on American
immigration and, in this respect, Park has helped shape
the literature on the Asian-American experience.
According to Park, the integration of diverse
peoples into the American mainstream consisted primarily
of the adjustment of its newcomers to the dominant
society. He developed a theory of intergroup relations
known as the race-relations cycle to explain this
process of adjustment. Park categorized stages through
which races would pass: contact, conflict, accommodation,
and assimilation This process was considered to be
generally applicable to all situations of intergroup
relations and historical development. The cycle was
evolutionary, progressive, irreversible, and inevitable.
Ultimately, not only would there be an homogenous
American society but also an homogenous world society.
This concept lent scientific credibility and authority
to the popularly held belief in America as a melting
Park's theory relative to immigrants reflected
the influence of American anthropologists who were the
first of the social scientists to systematically chal-
lenge the notion of racial determinism. By perceiving
differences between peoples as primarily cultural rather
than racial, the problem of integration became a cultural
one. Therefore, the assimilation'process could be seen
as a course of acculturation. But, what of the situation
of racially defined groups such as Asians or Blacks?
How would they be integrated into the mainstream society
which had historically excluded them? Racism, as it
was viewed by Park and others in this period, was defined
as prejudice and regarded primarily as a problem of
attitude. It was believed that attitudes could be
changed through continued intergroup contact and new
information. It would follow, then, that since the
race-relations cycle was inevitable and progressive,
racial prejudice would be overcome in a matter of time.
Although Park's theory could not be proven empirically
(and was occasionally contradicted by the findings of
his own research team on the Pacific Coast), this concept
was generally accepted by both laypeople and professionals.
Furthermore,it has left an indelible mark on American
thought with respect to immigrant and/or minority
groups and their relationship with majority society.4
Park's race-relations cycle only exemplified
the assimilationist bias and "system paradigm" perspec-
tive of American social scientists. His model was well
received, in part, because it represented what so many
people wanted. Americans were generally relieved that
the diverse members of its society could be integrated
with a minimum of disruption. Similarly, the many
minority group members who were eager to accept the
American Dream were anxious to believe that in due time
racial prejudice and xenophobia would be overcome.
Therefore, for the time being, they overlooked some of
the underlying assumptions in Park's model. In advocat-
ing integration, American social scientists assumed that
the homogeneous culture and society would be basically
Anglo-Saxon. Furthermore, it was supposed that the
"outsiders" shared these values and ideals, and that
they concurred with this view of U.S. society. The
assimilation process, as it was understood in terms of
acculturation, was not to be a two-way process as some
immigrants had hoped, for immigrant cultures were still
considered inferior. Another assumption fundamental to
the support of the assimilationist model of integration
was the belief that consensus was good for America and
diversity, because of the potential for conflict, was
Consequently, for the past few decades, social
scientists have been studying the adjustment of immi-
grants as they progress towards the inevitable and ideal
goal of assimilation. A glance at any bibliography
will show that the literature on Asian-Americans abounds
with studies of assimilation and adjustment. Gonzalo
(1929) is concerned with the various stages of social
adjustment for the Pilipinos. Bogardus (1930) outlined
a seven stage race-relations cycle through which he
observed, at the time of writing, that Chinese and
Japanese immigrants had already completed the stages
and were well on their way to assimilation, though not
without some difficulties. Pilipinos (and Mexicans)
he noted, were in the middle of the cycle. Ichihashi
(1932) described the gradual but favorable assimilation
progress of Japanese-Americans while Smith (1925 and
1936) examined some of the difficulties, especially
amongst second generation "Orientals." A study made by
Fisk University in 1946, using personal interviews and
life histories, illustrated some of the experiences
Chinese and Japanese immigrants encountered in "adjust-
ing" in America. R. Lee (1952) observed how Chinese-
Americans are rapidly adopting the cultural patterns
of the dominant society, and Cheng (1953) analyzed
Asian assimilation in Hawaii. These same concerns are
echoed in the contemporary literature of R. H. Lee
(1960) and Sung (1967) who anxiously await a more
complete integration of Chinese-Americans into the
mainstream; while Fong (1965) focused on different
aspects relating to the assimilation of Chinese college
students; and a number of articles in Conroy and
Miyakawa (1972) have extended the work begun by
Ichihashi on Japanese-American assimilation.
With the path to the new utopia in sight, social
scientists were left merely to attempt to describe its
coming. Thus the immigrant and/or minority group experience
was examined for its stage in the race-relations cycle
and the rapidity with which adjustment (i.e. assimila-
tion) took place. Ichihashi (1932) is optimistic about
the rate and state of Japanese-American assimilation.
R. H. Lee (1960) could not understand why Chinese-Amer-
icans did not assimilate faster since she saw conditions
as very favorable. Kitano (1969) found that, by and
large, Japanese-American adaptation followed Park's
cycle to a high degree since prejudice and discrimina-
tion had been overcome to a greater extent than imagin-
able. Other social scientists directed their attention
to empirical studies in an attempt to measure the
changes taking place. Accordingly, Glick (1938) studied
Chinese immigrants in Hawaii and noted their shifting
group loyalties and increased identification with the
local community as an indication of their progressive
assimilation into their newly adopted society; Briggs
(1954) observed Japanese-American youth and concluded
that because of their close association with Caucasians,
they were already well adjusted into American society;
and DeFleur and Cho (1957) conducted a sample survey of
urban first generation Japanese-American women in an
effort to measure their degree of assimilation.
Having concluded the inevitability of the
assimilation process, some social scientists turned to
the study of the impact of adjustment upon the immi-
THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF THE IMMIGRANT: THE
Robert E. Park significantly influenced social
theory relating to immigrants in a second area by suggest-
ing that the migration process should be studied for its
impact upon the personality. This opened up yet another
area of research -- the study of the social psychology
of immigrants. Park maintained that the acculturation
process involved a psychological adjustment which took
place in the mind of the immigrant. It was in the mind,
Park stated, where one could best observe the "changes
and fusions of cultures" and "best study ... the
processes of civilization and culture."43
In order to effectively analyze some aspects of
the process of migration and adaptation, Park introduced
the concept of the "marginal man" -- a new personality
type.4 Some anthropologists had suggested that dif-
ferent cultures produced different personality types.
Park attempted to explain the personality in terms of
the social consequences which result when an individual
finds himself in a situation where his original culture
conflicts with a new culture. The meeting of cultures
through the process of migration represented an advance
in the development of civilization, for new ideas and
institutions were often created. However, it may be a
dislocating experience for the individual. In such a
situation, whether or not an individual is a cultural or
racial hybrid (product of intermarriage), he becomes a new
personality type. This individual, as Park described
it, lives and shares "intimately in the cultural life
and traditions of two distinct peoples." However, he
is never able to break from his past, nor is he fully
accepted by his new society because of "racial preju-
dice." He is, therefore, "on the margin of two cultures
and two societies," which are "never completely inter-
penetrated and fused."45 Because of this internal
conflict in the immigrant's mind, it was believed that
the "marginal man" was apt to be an unstable character.
During the 1950s Park's "marginal man" concept
was developed further by Everett Stonequist who agreed
with Park that. social scientists could achieve a better
understanding of the evolutionary progress of the race-
relations cycle by studying the adjustment process in
the mind of the individual. Stonequist conceived of
the "marginal man" as part of a life cycle in which the
individual becomes aware of his dualism and experiences
a "crisis." This crisis is a personal one which need
not take place within the first generation of immigrants.
Stonequist pointed out that, frequently, it is the
second generation -- the children of immigrants -- who
experience the personal crisis of cultural conflict to
the greatest degree. However, Stonequist is more opti-
mistic than Park about the future of the "marginal man."
Whereas Park felt that marginality might be a permanent
condition, Stonequist saw some long-range positive
aspects. He identified the "marginal man" amongst the
first persons in an ethnic community to adjust to the
new society and move towards complete assimilation.
The "marginal man" concept drew scholarly atten-
tion towards a social psychological interpretation of
the immigrant/minority group experience. Assimilation
(immigrant adjustment) was regarded as a cultural
process to be understood in social psychological terms.
The Pacific migration literature of the period reflects
that emphasis on cultural conflict and personality
adjustment or maladjustment. The study of the adapta-
tion of Pacific immigrants was particularly susceptible
to this interpretation of their experience in the United
States, especially by Asian-Americans themselves, because
of the widely-held presumption that their cultural back-
ground was so different from Euro-Americans that adjust-
ment would be extremely difficult, though not impossible.
A survey of the literature reveals, for example,
that Smith (in 1928) was concerned about the changing
personality traits amongst second generation Asians and
(by 1934) with the important role of the marginal man in
Hawaii. Louis (1932) and Chang (1934) both offered
programs to assist second-generation Chinese-Americans in
their assimilation process. Rojo (1937) described how
he had observed the Pilipino personality changing as a
result of the American experience. Many studies were made
of the social psychological adjustment of Japanese-
Americans during the war camp experience. Bogardus (1943),
in particular, pointed out cultural conflicts between first
and second generation Japanese in the camps; and DeVos
(1955) attempted to assess some general problems of
maladjustment in acculturating Japanese-Americans.
This interest in personality adjustment has
continued to influence even contemporary literature in
which cultural conflict is increasingly being studied
as a major contributor to the problem of self-identifi-
cation. In this regard, some of the studies have been
authored by social scientists who are themselves second,
third or fourth generation Asian Americans: Sommers
(1960), Fong (1968), Callao (1973) and Cordova (1973)
have all examined various aspects of cultural conflict,
adjustment and identity crises in Asian-Americans,
especially among its youth. While S. Sue and D. W. Sue
(1971), Maruyama (1973), and D. W. Sue (1973) have been
exploring the concept of a distinct Asian-American
personality structure that is neither traditionally
Asian nor American. Thus, adjustment and personality
remain leading concerns in the.literature, especially
among Asian-American social scientists.
In the foregoing, I have tried to demonstrate
how the evolution of social science thought under the
influence of Robert E. Park and others has resulted in
a narrow interpretation of the immigrant experience in
America. Although Park's two concepts (the race-relations
cycle and the "marginal man") have been criticized for
their theoretical weakness and lack of empirical evidence,
they nevertheless garnered wide acceptance. Conse-
quently, much of the Pacific migration literature
pertains to the question of assimilation. For at least
four decades, social scientists have been primarily
concerned with the social integration of racial and
ethnic groups into the majority society, disregarding
attendant political and economic aspects. Furthermore,
the emphasis upon the social psychological phase of the
Asian-American experience to the neglect of all other
sides of their life in the United States, continues to
confuse the total picture of the Pacific migration
Moreover, one wonders why, especially in the
face of contrary evidence, the ideas of Park and others
left such a profound mark on immigration literature.
These concepts were influential and deemed credible
partly because they rested upon certain assumptions
which American social scientists held in common. Racist
ideas still persisted although they were now cloaked in
The exchange of a racial definition of integra-
tion for a cultural one neither lowered the structural
barriers to the mainstream, nor changed racist attitudes.
American social scientists assumed that there was a
definable American culture, that it was constant and
that it was superior to any that newcomers might bring
with them. Thus, it was expected that "outsiders,"
being of inferior background, would adjust (assimilate)
to the dominant culture. There was little or no sugges-
tion that the majority society would have to make any
adaptation. Those who did not conform (i.e., accultu-
rate) were viewed as deviants and considered not only
maladjusted but a potential threat to the social order.
On the other hand, social scientists, many of whom were
representative of progressive thinking, also assumed
that the "outsiders" would be received by members of
the dominant group. Underlying these assumptions was
the general belief in an ideal American society consist-
ing of a culturally homogeneous population adhering to
common values, which would, in turn, help ensure a
stable and orderly nation.
In addition, the emphasis on social psychological
aspects of the adjustment process placed the burden of
adaptation upon the individual and removed the majority
society and its institutions from any responsibility
for facilitating integration. Rather than find fault
with the social structure when assimilation failed to
take place, the immigrant was blamed. He suffered from
cultural conflict or a dual personality. In other
words, the immigrant was generally maladjusted. The
foundation was thus laid for what William Ryan has
called "blaming the victim" when assimilation was not
achieved.48 Conflict, which U.S. social scientists
feared most, was confined (according to Park's and
Stonequist's analyses) within the individual. All
conflict was personal and occurred in the minds and
souls of those individuals attempting to reap the rewards
promised by the American Dream. Once conflict was
internalized, there was little danger to the social
order, or so the social scientists assumed.
One of the unfortunate consequences of this
ideology was the popular acceptance of these sociologi-
cal formulations, especially by racial and ethnic groups
themselves. They came to blame themselves for their
failure to become accepted, and felt guilty when they
tried to preserve certain aspects of their own culture.
Cultural conflict and identity crises of the psychologi-
cal variety are, in part, a creation of social scientists.
CULTURAL PLURALISM AS A MODEL OF INTEGRATION
It was not until the beginning of the 1960s that
a number of social scientists searched for an increased
"understanding of the meaning and process of 'integra-
tion'."49 Integration had been associated with the assi-
milationist model suggested by Robert E. Park's race-
relations cycle. Social scientists were discovering what
many Americans already knew, but some were afraid to talk
about -- namely, that the melting pot did not come to pass.
Milton Gordon, for example, asserted that assimilation was
a more complex process than Park could have envisioned and
that it involved many sub-processes. He called for a
distinction between assimilation which was "behavioral"
and assimilation which was "structural." He also argued
that assimilation, as many ethnic groups had come to under-
stand it, was in reality a demand for Anglo-conformity.50
At the same time, Glazer and Moynihan revealed that ethnic
group identification in New York City had been maintained
well into the third and fourth generations. This persis-
tence and perpetuation of ethnic group identification
stood in need of explanation. As an alternative concept
to the assimilationist model of integration, many social
scientists approached the idea of cultural pluralism.
Cultural pluralism was a fact in American society
long before it became a theory as Milton Gordon has noted.
As a concept, it was first introduced by Horace Kallen in
his article in the Nation (1915), "Democracy Versus the
Melting Pot." Writing in a period of anti-foreigner
hysteria and intense debate on the value of immigrants,
Kallen defended the idea of a culturally pluralistic
society. He stated that America was composed of a "mosaic
of peoples" with different backgrounds and heritages. It
was this cultural variation, developed through "continuous
free and fruitful cross-fertilization of its many cultures,"
which made the U.S. great. This diversity, however, did
not mean disharmony. According to Kallen, America's unity
was protected by its democratic institutions which per-
mitted the best opportunity for people to develop and
perfect themselves. Rather than eliminate differences,
democracy would perfect and conserve them. Thus, a
culturally pluralistic society represented a more ideal
goal for America than that of the melting pot.53
Nevertheless, assimilationist ideology continued
to dominate and it was not until after World War II that
the notion of cultural pluralism was popularly accepted.
It was adopted by many ethnic group leaders who wanted
to maintain certain cultural traditions and who chafed
under the pressures of Anglo-conformity. As proponents
of cultural pluralism, they expressed the right for
peoples to maintain a separate cultural identity within
the confines of a common civilization. Even before it
attracted the attention of social scientists, the notion
of a culturally pluralistic society had influenced the
writings of American immigration historians, such as
Carl Wittke and Louis Adamic.54
Social scientists embraced the concept of
cultural pluralism in an attempt to re-define American
society realistically rather than in its preconceived
ideal. Despite these efforts the concept of cultural
pluralism has not been developed much beyond Kallen's
comments. Instead, cultural pluralism has been accepted
as a condition and merely described. Milton Gordon has
noted that social science thinking on cultural pluralism
and all other forms of immigrant adjustment still remains
very vague and lacking in serious analysis.55
Nonetheless, many social scientists and historians
have adopted cultural pluralism an an alternative
conceptual model of American society. Whereas earlier
literature had reflected the assimilationist model,
after the 60s, the immigrant experience began to be re-
interpreted in accordance with the culturally pluralistic
view of America. Although assimilation remains an
important theme in the literature relating to Pacific
migration, this perspective was applied to the Asian-
American experience as well.
One finds, then, that Melendy (1972) devoted
his concluding chapters to a description of the Chinese
and Japanese "joining the pluralistic society." New
imagery also appears in the literature to replace the
over-worked phrases of "joining the mainstream" and the
"melting pot" which were associated with the assimila-
tionist model. Hosokawa (1969:497) likened the change
in the nation from an all-American melting pot to an
"all-American stew in which each of the ingredients
remain identifiable." Similarly, Kitano (1969:145)
believed that "the distinctive contribution of Oriental,
of Mexican, of African, and many other cultures, could
greatly improve the flavor of the bland American brew."
He envisioned different cultural groups living side by
side in harmony. Although he was to modify his inter-
pretation, Kitano was hopeful that the Japanese-American
experience had foreshadowed a new future in race rela-
tions where race prejudice and discrimination were
Cultural pluralism was acceptable as an alterna-
tive model of integration because it seemed to work and
was agreeable to so many people. Many white Americans
suspected that assimilation, taken to its logical
extent, might lead to racial amalgamation which had
been historically abhorred. Therefore, cultural
pluralism was a preferable form of integration for
members of the dominant society, who were somewhat
reluctant to accept "outsiders," because it could be
interpreted as voluntary separatism. Others, especially
minority group members, were pleased that one could be
an ethnic and still be considered an American.
In spite of this shift in attention from assimi-
lation to cultural pluralism, social scientists had not
fundamentally altered their perspective of an ideal
American society. The study of immigrant and minority
group integration remained a major trend in sociological
thought. Many social scientists still held an order-
consensus or "system paradigm" approach to the study of
society. In the 1960s, they continued to focus on the
same problem of how to form a unified society out of a
diverse (and socially unequal) population with the
least amount of disturbance to the status quo. The
social integration of immigrant and/or minority groups was
still seen as a means of securing a stable and unified
society, but social scientists were less concerned with
achieving this goal through a culturally homogeneous
population. They believed that adjustment could take
place without Anglo-conformity. Consensus was still
desired, but was to be achieved on a new basis. Far
from being viewed as a weakness in America, cultural
diversity was now recognized as a strength. Not only
was American civilization enriched, but the concept of
cultural pluralism implied a means of reducing conflict
between the dominant mainstream culture and America's
many substreams, thus, helping to preserve the status
quo. Unity and harmony were to be achieved by a common
allegiance to values other than cultural forms, namely,
the American economic system and the American way of life.
In summary, sociological thought on the immigrant
in America since the 1920s has been heavily influenced
by a "system paradigm" perspective of American society in
which the unity of the whole relies upon the balanced
integration of its parts. Social science research in
the fields of immigration and majority-minority relations
has been constrained by this view. The predominate trend
in sociological literature has centered upon the inte-
gration of minority groups into the majority society
and the social psychological adjustment of the "outsider."
This one-sided interpretation of the immigrant/minority
group experience in the United States is reflected in
the literature on the Asian-American experience.
THE ASIAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: FAILURE AND
REVISION IN HISTORICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL
In Parts I and II, I have attempted to demon-
strate how certain perspectives supported by American
historians and social scientists, based largely on their
training, assumptions, biases, and ideologies, have
resulted in specific trends in Pacific migration liter-
ature. I have argued that these trends in the literature
have contributed to distortions and misinterpretations
of the Asian-American experience. In this section three
themes or concepts which have appeared with some regu-
larity in Pacific migration literature will be examined.
The purpose of the following commentary is to further
illustrate how historical and sociological perspectives
have failed in their efforts to understand and accurate-
ly explain the Asian American experience. This part of
the essay, therefore, attempts to demonstrate the need
for correcting perspectives and includes a discussion
of some fundamental revisions in the literature that are
THE IMMIGRANT AS SOJOURNER
In a review of the historical and sociological
literature relating to Pacific migration, there is a
recurring reference to Asian immigrants as sojourners,
or sometimes euphemistically, as "birds of passage."
E(C. F, Ichihashi (1932); R. H. Lee (1960); Barth
(1964); Lyman (1970); Melendy (1974); and Kim (1976).]
Historians have used the term sojourner interchangeably
with such words as immigrant, settler or pioneer. In
the American context, these terms (settler/pioneer,
immigrant and sojourner) evoke an image, sometimes
bordering on myth, which is deeper than any dictionary
definition can give. "Settlers" are generally under-
stood to be the first Americans who dared to build a
new civilization in an unknown world under hostile
conditions. The "immigrants" were the poor who huddled
together and fled political, economic and religious
oppression in search of freedom and opportunity in the
new promised land. Finally, the "sojourner," unlike
the immigrant and settler, came to work for a short
time and reap whatever gains possible without intending
These terms are misleading. Although they
identify differences in cultural background, geograph-
ical origin, socio-economic class and time of arrival,
all of the people thus categorized are seen essentially
as immigrants. As Theodore Roosevelt has noted, the
term "settler" was the "euphemistic name for an immi-
grant who came over in the steerage of a sailing ship
in the seventeenth century instead of the steerage of
a steamer in the nineteenth century."56 Whereas the
term settler was used by members of .the "old" (Western
European) immigration to differentiate themselves from
the "new" (Eastern and Southern European) immigration,
the term sojourner is used to distinguish Pacific
migration from Atlantic migration. As noted above,
there has been a general tendency in historical litera-
ture to treat Pacific migration as something separate
and different fromthe general American immigration
The idea of the sojourner was further developed
as a sociological concept by Paul Siu (1952).57 In an
earlier study, Siu had attempted to apply Robert E.
Park's "marginal man" concept to the Chinese laundryman
in the United States. However, he found that Chinese
laundrymen were not "marginal" men caught between two
cultures, but instead, they lived mentally in their home
country while functioning in their country of residence.
Siu referred to this type of "stranger" as a sojourner
who constituted a completely new personality type. As
such the sojourner was thought to be a deviant person-
ality who would visit his homeland from time to time
but would also spend his years in his new found land
without beinR assimilated.
The term sojourner, in its historical and
sociological context, has been liberally applied to the
Pacific migration. During the nineteenth century, many
Asians were recruited as laborers and were not expected
to stay longer than needed. Under these circumstances,
many Asian immigrants made no attempt to assimilate and
thus were sojourners. Furthermore, the first Asians
were discouraged from staying by laws which not only
restricted further immigration, but also confined them
politically, economically and socially to a permanent
alien status. This does not mean to suggest, however,
that some Asians were not also immigrants or settlers or
that some Europeans were not sojourners. Nonetheless,
the term has been applied to Asians, not as individuals,
but as an entire group. By designating Pacific immigrants
as sojourners, Asians are placed outside the general
American immigrant experience. They are treated extran-
eously, not because they are outsiders, but because they
contradict the majority society's conception of what the
immigrant experience is believed to be.
As it is popularly projected and understood, the
American immigrant experience is an inclusive one.
According to the Protestant Ethic, the door is open to
any man or woman who is willing to work hard enough,
regardless of race, creed or place of birth. With
talent and energy, anything is possible. The experi-
ences of Asian-Americans dispute this assertion. Asians
encountered a closed not an open society in which,
paradoxically, hard work led to the limitation of
opportunities rather than the unlocking of new ones.
Restrictive immigration laws and other racist policies
were part of their experience. Rather than shatter the
myth of America as an asylum for people seeking freedom
and liberty, or expose racism in American society, this
contradictory evidence was explained by considering the
Pacific migration as an exception to the rule, and thus,
is treated separately. If (1) the American immigrant
phenomenon is recognized as a response to the scarcity
of labor in the United States, (2) the exploitation of
that labor was essential for development, and (3) racism
facilitated that exploitation, then the Asian American
experience can be understood within it. But this
requires the elimination of certain myths that surround
the American immigrant experience.
Secondly, the use of the sojourner concept is
important for rationalizing the injustice and mistreat-
ment of Asians in America. By being sojourners, the
Asians themselves were to blame for their sufferi.-ils.
This is the conclusion of Gunther Barth (1964), who.e
Bitter Strength is a good illustration of how the
sojourner concept can be carried to the extreme where
it distorts history and social reality. It is Barth's
major thesis that the Chinese were sojourners rather
than immigrants. Their motives for coming to America
were very narrow since they were primarily interested
in accumulating enough money to return to China where
they could retire to a life of ease. On the other hand,
immigrants came for liberty and Americans, because they
were great "humanitarians," received them well. Barth
maintains that, because of this "limited goal," the
Chinese were set apart from the "immigrants" and
excluded from the privileges extended to newcomers by
Americans. Moreover, since they rejected immigrant
status, the Chinese refused the "humanitarian" gestures
that the United States had to offer and, therefore,
suffered grave mistreatment. This is another example
of how one can "blame the victim" for a social condition
rather than find fault with the system.5 Barth attaches
little, if any, responsibility to the American social
structure or the role that racist ideology and institu-
tionalized racism played in limiting the opportunities
and goals of Chinese immigrants. Furthermore, Barth's
assumptions about the motives of European immigrants
are incorrect. The goals of the Chinese immigrants
were not as different from their European counterparts
as Barth would have us believe. Contrary to Barth's
belief, Marcus Lee Hansen has argued that the majority
of European immigrants were concerned less with liberty
than with economic survival for themselves and their
families, and with maintaining their social class
position in changing economic times.6
But how could Chinese "sojourners" alleviate
the mistreatment they have had to endure? According to
William Ryan, one tries to change the victim and help
him to adjust to the social condition rather than change
the condition itself.61 Thus Barth concludes that when
Chinese "sojourners" recognize the good things America
has to offer and commit themselves to staying and
raising families, their "sojourner" status will be
replaced by that of "immigrant," and new opportu-
nities will present themselves. Be that as it may,
immigrant status has not fundamentally changed the lives
of most Asian-Americans.
Finally, Siu's concept of the "sojourner"
personality type has been re-examined by Peter Li (1976)
in a recent article. Li argues that Siu's social-
psychological approach to the experience of Chinese
laundrymen is inadequate and ahistorical, and suggests
the "sojourner orientation" is a consequence of struc-
tural factors. Li proposes that many Asians entered
"sojourning" occupations as a result of their exploita-
tion, their often brutal and hostile reception in
America, and their inability to protect themselves
because basic civil rights were denied to them. It is
conceivable that some would develop a desire to return
home to a place more welcoming. Therefore, the restric-
tive immigration laws, the limited economic opportunities
and other forms of racism often led Asians to seek out
temporary (and non-competitive) occupations, such as in
laundry and other ethnic businesses. The prevention
and limitation'of their entry into other trades, profes-
sions, and businesses of a more permanent nature
contributed to this "sojourner orientation." Clearly,
Li's perspective suggests that further re-examination
and re-interpretation of the "sojourner" concept as it
has been applied to Asians needs to be undertaken. The
continued and casual use of the term "sojourner" and
its many euphemisms is a distortion of the Asian-American
ASIAN TRADITION AND CULTURE
Another recurring theme which emerges from a
review of the literature is the continuous reference ,t
Asian tradition and culture. Asian values, beliefs ar.
institutions (or the lack thereof) are used to explain
various aspects of Asian-American history and life.
One is led to believe that, to a large degree, tradi-
tional Asian culture has been the primary factor in
determining the history of Asian peoples in the United
States. This is an over-simplified view which fails to
take other factors into consideration and thus con-
tributes to a misinterpretation of the Asian-American
Historians and social scientists who have empha-
sized culture as a determinant of history have tended
to ignore socio-historical conditions. For example,
traditional Chinese customs, such as leaving one's wife
in the homeland to look after elderly parents, or the
desire to be buried in ancestral grounds, have been
used to explain why Chinese came as sojourners and why
they did not assimilate. (See Barth, 1964.) As I have
discussed earlier in this essay, writers such as Barth
failed to consider other aspects, especially racism and
the American socio-economic structure, as factors contrib-
ing to the slow and limited entry of Chinese into the
American mainstream. Similarly, it is Lott's (1974)
interpretation that culture (or the lack of it) accounts
for the limited education and upward mobility of
Pilipinos relative to the Chinese and Japanese. Pilipi-
nos, she suggests, lack a viable tradition and social
organization and possess a "colonial mentality." While
this may be true, there are socio-historical factors
which more accurately explain their socio-economic
position in America and help account for changes in
their society in the Philippines. One might look at
the historical period in which Pilipinos first arrived
in the United States and their role as a labor force in
Hawaii and the Pacific Far West, The Philippine Islands
have had a long and dependent relationship with the
United States that has been qualitatively different from
America's relationship with China and Japan. This has
had an impact upon Pilipino and Pilipino-American social
relations. By continuing to view Pilipinos as victims
of cultural deprivation, historians and social scientists
have overlooked their relationship within the larger
Even as traditional culture has been used by
some students of immigration to explain how Asians have
"failed" in different respects, others have employed
traditional culture to account for their "successful"
adaptation. However positive the interpretation may be,
this emphasis on cultural determinism still represents
a failure in perspective and analysis. For example,
traditional culture has often been utilized to explain
why Asian-Americans as a group do not appear to have
social problems. To account for the lack of juvenile
offences among Chinese youth, McIntyre (1957) rested
his case upon traditional Chinese values and the soli-
darity of the Chinese family. Only recently has this
been refuted by Stanford Lyman's (1974) argument that
this superhuman feat of the Chinese was based more on
the absence of families than on their strong presence.
Restrictive immigration laws and antimiscegenation
laws limited the number of marriages thus obstructing
family formation among Chinese immigrants. Lyman has
suggested that the small number of juveniles was the
primary reason for the comparatively few delinquency
problems. Thus, what has previously been described as
a culturally determined phenomenon is fundamentally
revised by Lyman's analysis. His research challenges
the concept of cultural determinism and indicates that
more attention should be paid to social demographic
characteristics of Pacific immigrants in interpreting
the Asian-American experience.
In a number of other studies, one finds -hat
Asian tradition and culture are used to explain t.e
relatively "successful" socio-economic mobility c-
Japanese and Chinese-Americans. Caudill and De Vos
(1956) studied the rapidity with which Japanese-Americans
attained middle class status after their lives had been
disrupted by the concentration camp experience. They
argued that the value system which the Issei (first
generation Japanese-Americans) brought with them and
passed on to the Nisei (second generation) was so
compatible with the middle class American system that
it enabled Japanese-Americans to achieve upward mobility
and gain acceptance into the mainstream. On the other
hand, Miyamoto (1972) suggested that it was the strength
of the Japanese family and the supportive organizations
of the community which were largely responsible for the
"successful" adaptation of Japanese-Americans. Similarly,
in examining successful Chinese-Americans, Hsu (1971:114-116)
found that it was "Chinese cultural roots" and their
"industry, high value for education, and a desire for
advancement" that enabled them to "Americanize" so easily.
Ivan Light (1972) also furnishes cultural explanations
for Asian-American entrepreneurial success. For Light,
it is the rotating credit system used by Chinese and
Japanese in America which enabled them to operate small
businesses and thus achieve some socio-economic
mobility. On the other hand, because Black Americans
did not have this tradition of social organization,
they have been unable to gain entry into America's entre-
preneurial system and have remained at the bottom of
the socio-economic ladder. Light concludes that while
certain aspects of traditional culture have accounted
for Asian-American economic success, the lack of these
same aspects can explain the low status of Black
As attractive and positive as the Asian-American
success story appears to be, it has yet to be proven and
has been seriously challenged even by socio-economic
data gathered for the 1970 Census.62 In focusing on the
modest gains of some Asian-Americans, historians and
social scientists have overlooked or played down the
obstacles and limitations faced by all minority groups.
Furthermore, these modest gains cannot be explained by
cultural factors alone. In particular, Light's thesis
has been questioned for its ahistoricism and misunder-
standing of the role that racism and capitalist economic
development have played in devising different social
relations for distinct racial and ethnic groups.63 By
ignoring these socio-historical factors, historians and
social scientists have continued to misrepresent the
This does not mean that culture and tradition
are not important to an understanding of Asian-American
history. Rather, the emphasis upon cultural determinism
as the only explanation for group experience is based
upon certain erroneous assumptions. To begin with,
cultural determinists adopt a static view of culture
and tradition in assuming that the old ways do not change
in the New World. Or that American culture, if that
can be defined, is also static. The institutions and
beliefs which were brought with ethnic groups to America
were developed and functioned in a particular historical
epoch and within a specific social structure. Trans-
ferred to a new situation, they are not adopted wholesale
but are modified in adapting to the changed conditions.
There is also an assumption that racial and ethnic groups
exist in a vacuum and that the majority society is not
influenced by their presence. Cultural determinists
tend to ignore the changes that take place as the larger
social structure interacts with the various sub-groups.
These historians and social scientists need to re-consi-
der the concept of "traditional" culture as a dynamic
entity which historically evolves.64 A more co'r.-ete
understanding of the history and life of Pacific :rmi-
grants can be gained through an appreciation of th.
cultural evolution. For example, under what partic.ia
circumstances are certain cultural aspects reinforced
and therefore survive while others, which find no useful
role, decline in importance? What new social forms are
synthesized from old ones to cope with new situations?
As discussed above,one of the trends in Pacific mi-
gration literature was the study of what happened to Asian
immigrants rather than what they themselves did in the
United States. (That is, apart from those who are used
as Asian-style Horatio Algers.) The major theme to
emerge out of this trend concerns the opposition and
hostility to Asians. This theme has undergone
some re-examination in the past decade result-
ing in a significant reinterpretation of both the
movements to restrict the immigration of Asians and of
the events surrounding the relocation of Japanese-
Americans in concentration camps during World War II.
New thinking in this direction has broadened
our understanding of the Asian-American experience and
American civilization. It also suggests that major
revisions are required in other areas. The following
is a brief review of the revisions that have taken place
regarding anti-Asian movements.
The major interpretation of the opposition and
hostility to Asians has focused upon what has been
loosely called "the California thesis."65 In this
regard, the opposition to Asians is considered a local
or regional "problem" confined primarily to "California"
or the "Far West." It is also viewed as a unique though
unfortunate event in American history resulting from
the convergence of specific circumstances. Coolidge
(1909), Cross (1935), and Sandmeyer (1939) have argued
that peculiar conditions in the Far West in the latter
part of the nineteenth century were responsible for
the cry, "the Chinese must gol" Specifically,
coincident events including frontier society,
economic competition, hostility, the rise of the labor
movement, and the political opportunism of state and
local officials were responsible for the movements to
exclude Chinese immigrants. Daniels (1969) proposed
that similar conditions led to the formation of anti-
Japanese movements as Californians transferred their
opposition to the Chinese onto the Japanese. Pilipinos
were to suffer the same experience and a movement to
limit their entry occurred because of the transmission
of hatred against Asians which "originated" in Cali-
fornia (Melendy, 1967).
Similarly, the relocation of Japanese-Americans
during World War II had been interpreted in the past as
a deviation in American history and the consequence of a
number of unusual events. Accordingly, Japanese-Americans
were placed in concentration camps due to the wartime
hysteria and because Californians, always suspicious of
Japanese-Americans, were further spurred on by local
pressure groups who seized opportunistically upon the
military necessity at hand. The "California thesis" is
reminiscent of the earlier treatments of the Black
experience in the United States when slavery and hostil-
ity against Afro-Americans were viewed as a "Southern
It was not until the 1960s that a number of
studies appeared which contested the claims of the
"California thesis." These studies challenged the idea
that opposition to Asians was primarily a regional
phenomenon. Studies by Isaacs (1958), a forerunner in
this respect, Miller (1969), and McClellan (1971) asso-
ciated America's hostility to Chinese immigrants with
international relations and not just local events. These
works suggested that the interests of the United States
in China also played a role in influencing Amenl2a's
response to Chinese immigrants at home. Miller, '.n
particular, found that Americans on the East coa_. ld
negative images of the Chinese in China which infiu :ed
their view of Chinese in the United States. Furthermore,
these negative images were found to be present as early
as the late eighteenth century, prior to the arrival of
Asian immigrants to the Pacific coast. Miller concluded
that there were larger national and historical forces
at work which were responsible for the anti-Asian move-
In the 1960s, there was also a significant change
in the perspective of historians and social scientists.
The social protest movements of the 1950s and 1960s and
the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil
Disorders, authored by Otto Kerner, forced many Americans
to re-examine their thinking about racial prejudice. As
I have suggested above, certain trends in the thinking
of American historians led them to mistake the ideology
of racism for an attitude of racial prejudice, which
was regarded as a temporary phenomenon. Racial prejudice
had been considered the personal pathology of a few
that would be inevitably overcome by time and proper
education. By the 1960s many scholars had come to view
white racism as (1) part of the ideological value system of
American civilization and (2) systematically institu-
tionalized into the fabric of American society, thus
affecting every member. This reinterpretation of Ameri-
can society had an impact on Pacific migration literature
by further modifying the "California thesis."
In a definitive article, Lyman (1970) argues
that Asians are the key to understanding the emergence
of "the modern institutional, racist society." The oppo-
sition to Asians can best be understood if one examines
the role that racism has played in the development of
the nation. Lyman disputed the uniqueness of Anti-Asian
movements in American history, and claimed they were
part of a policy to control non-whites who constituted
an exploitable labor force. Immigration restriction,
segregation, and limitation of economic opportunities
were examples of how an institutionalized racist society
evolved. This same analysis has led Saxton (1971) and
Hill (1973) to reinterpret the role that organized labor
played in the anti-Asian movements. They concur with
Miller that anti-Asian sentiment was national and not
confined to the Pacific Coast regions. Saxton and Hill
also contend that the circumstances under which organized
labor supported and often led anti-Asian agitation was
part of the process by which racism was institutional-
ized in the United States. Organized labor used racial
discrimination, first against Asians and Blacks, then
to unify the white rank and file and to secure additional
support for its leadership.
This reinterpretation of American civilization
has also influenced the literature on Japanese-American
concentration camps. Both Bosworth (1967) and Daniels
(1971, 1975) cite racism as an important factor.
Daniels (1971:xiv) argues that the relocation of the
Japanese Americans was neither a "wartime mistake," nor
an aberration in American history. Rather, it grew out
of the American experience and it reflected "one of the
central themes of American history -- the theme of
white supremacy, of American racism."
Thus, recent studies have significantly revised
our understanding of the opposition to Asians in America.
These revisions are indicative of an earlier failure in
perspective and analysis and, surely, suggest a need to
re-evaluate other areas of the Asian-American experience.
ASIAN-AMERICAN STUDIES: RECENT TRENDS AND
As I have suggested in the Foreword to this
essay, the present day ethnic studies programs are an
outgrowth of recent demands for social change. The
period of the 1960s and early 1970s was notable as a
time of heightened social consciousness over urban
problems at home and America's overseas involvement in
Southeast Asia. This was also a time of intensified
racial, ethnic and women's consciousness, stimulated
first by the nationalism of Black Americans, and subse-
quently assuming political as well as cultural implica-
tions. The interest in ethnicity was also stimulated
by changes in U.S. immigration policy, especially the
Immigration Act of 1965. The consequence of all this
has not only been the formation of new area studies in
the universities, but also a proliferation of written
materials and some new directions in American thought
on its history, society, and civilization. The purpose
of this section is to explore some of the contemporary
Pacific migration literature and to comment on some
recent trends in the historical and social sciences and
their impact upon the study of the Asian-American
experience. While it is still too soon to make defini-
tive statements, some preliminary observations can be
made. In this section, historical and social science
materials will be discussed collectively; first for
convenience, and, secondly, because much of the litera-
ture is increasingly inter-disciplinary. In general,
since the creation of Asian-American Studies programs,
there have been a number of corrective changes in the
One change in the literature since the 1960s has
been the increase in published materials on the Pacific
migration, much of which is authored by members of this
group. This is partly a result of the changes in U.S.
immigration policy which had previously restricted the
entry of Asian peoples. Particular features of the 1965
Immigration Act which have figured in the shift in the
types and geographic origins of immigrants currently
entering the U.S. are (1) more "sympathetic" regulations
favoring reunification of families, (2) abolishment of
national origins quotas, and (3) focus on specific labor
skills or professional capabilities. As a result of
these changes the majority of new immigrants now come
from Asia and the southern portion of the Western
Hemisphere. In one decade, 1960-1970, the Asian popu-
lation in the United States almost doubled, largely
through immigration. In addition, the second wave
includes Asians who were not represented in the first
wave. Koreans, Thais, Indians, and now Vietname-
have joined Chinese, Japanese and Pilipinos in Arr -ica.
Other groups of Pacific Islanders from the U.S. T .
Territories of Samoa and Guam are also immigrating *'
the mainland. Descendants of the first wave of Asian
immigrants in the U.S. have been confronted with this
second wave of immigrants who are encountering all the
problems relating to migration, including employment,
housing, language difficulties, and health care. By
the end of the 1960s, this increased and diversified
Pacific migration was beginning to have an impact upon
older Asian-American communities and American society
in general.. The implications of this second wave of
Pacific immigrants is still not fully known. One conse-
quence, however, has been the greater attention paid to
the presence of A.ian and Pacific peoples in America.
This expanded Asian presence alone cannot
explain the prolif ration of materials. Stimulated by
the social crisis o.' the "Black revolt," Americans were
compelled to re-examine their thinking about race and
ethnicity. In turn, racial and ethnic groups (white
ethnics included) were to re-evaluate their role in
American history and civilization.67 This heightened
race and ethnic consciousness has contributed to new
emphases and reinterpretations in literature on immi-
gration and minorities. However, changes in emphases
or interpretations do not mean that trends and themes
described earlier in this essay are abandoned.
The recent literature reveals that historians
and social scientists are undertaking a major re-exam-
ination of the nature of race and ethnic group relations.
Assimilation and cultural pluralism have not been
dismissed as models for an integrated society, but a
number of social scientists find them inadequate and
have turned to theories relating to power-conflict in
an attempt to better understand and explain race and
ethnic group relations.68 Two particular concepts of
power-conflict relations have emerged which influence
Pacific migration literature today. These concepts are
the internal colonial model and the middleman minority
thesis. Thus, a recent trend in Pacific migration
literature has been the exploration of concepts other
than assimilation and cultural pluralism that might
better explain the Asian-American experience.
The internal colonial model was first suggested
as a framework in which to analyze Black communities
and the ghetto.69 The model posits that the Black
ghetto is a colony within the United States and that
Blacks as a colonial people are economically dependent
upon and politically dominated by the white colonizer.
This analysis has also been applied to Chicano commun-
ities70 and some attempts have been made to test its
validity in the Asian-American situation. Thus Lott
(1976) discusses how Pilipinos (due to their experience
of double colonization, first by Spain and then by the
United States) have developed a "colonial mentality."
Hirata (1975), in a perceptive and incisive analysis of
property ownership in Los Angeles' Chinatown, has found
that the internal colonial model does not apply in this
case, if external economic control in terms of both
residency and ethnicity is the determining criterion.
Instead, she suggests an investigation of the relation-
ship between class and race may result in a better
analytical model. Although Light and Wong (1975) do
not directly address the internal colonial model, they
suggest that Chinatowns in the United States are overly
dependent upon the tourist trade for economic survival.
They also acknowledge the role that the power structure
within Chinatown continues to play in the economic
development of the community. Their conclusions
indicate that perhaps the internal colonial model is
not entirely applicable to Asian-Americans.
The search for alternative concepts has led
other social scientists to the middleman minority thesis
as developed by Hubert Blalock, Jr., and Edna B .acich.7
This concept suggests that minority groups, dist ?,uished
by race, religion, or nationality, may be elevate
the dominant group above the lower status positic:.
a buffer between the lowest and higher classes. They
are, then, a minority group in the middle. While there
are some economic and social status advantages to the
role of middleman minority, the position is highly
vulnerable and dependent upon the good graces of those
in power. Kitano (1974), shifting somewhat from his
earlier assimilationist posture, has applied this thesis
to Japanese-Americans in an attempt to better understand
their relative "success" as a group in America. Japanese-
Americans, he concludes are not as successful as most
believe -- they are middlemen. This same analysis has
been applied in a somewhat different context by Loewen
(1971), who examined the historic role of the Chinese
as a middle group between Blacks and whites in the
Mississippi Delta. The weakness in this thesis is that
there is no consideration for divisions within an ethnic
group. The middleman minority concept assumes that
members of the group all possess the same social and
Social scientists exploring these new concepts
of race and ethnic relations have been conflict theorists;
that is, opponents of the order-consensus or structural-
functionalist view of society. Their primary concern
has been to analyze the power differentials of majority-
minority groups. While much remains to be investigated,
Hirata's suggestion of examining the relationship between
race and class seems worth exploring.
Another trend has been the stress on institutions
and structures in contrast to the earlier emphasis on
the individual and personality. White racism, in parti-
cular, has been an important point of analysis which,
as I have described in a previous section, has led to
significant reinterpretations of previous literature on
anti-Asian movements. Racism continues to be a central
point of analysis and much of the recent literature
examines the role and impact of institutionalized racism
on other aspects of Asian-American life. Thus we find
studies of the impact of racism on education (Chinese-
Americans: School and Community Problems, 1972; Chun-
Hoon, 1973; Wang, 1974); employment (Lyman, 1974; Sung,
1975a); the aged (Kalish and Yuen, 1971); community
needs (Kuramoto, 1971); the law and the courts (Asian
Law Collective, 1974; Chu, 1974; Yu, 1972); self-image
(Asian-American Children's Book Project, 1976; Chin,
1972; Ogawa, 1971); and many others.
Researchers of the Asian-American experience
have long been concerned with the insufficient and
inaccurate data available on Asians which, in itself,
leads to distortions of their history and society. This
concern has provoked a new emphasis on accurate and
sensitive data collection, which has contributed to the
increased use of social science data for analysis and a
lessened reliance on "tradition" and "culture" to explain
the Asian-American experience. Lyman (1970, 1974) has
made great use of social demographic analysis to explain
various aspects of Chinese and Japanese adaptation to
the United States which others have assumed to be cultur-
ally determined. He argues that the shortage of Chinese
women, at first by choice and later by restrictive
immigration acts, had a profound impact upon Chinese
American community life. Chinese did not gather together
only because they were "clannish" and did not want to
assimilate. Rather, the shortage of women prevented the
formation of family life in the United States and thus
delayed the birth of a second generation. Because there
were very few American-born Chinese until the 1940s,
Chinatowns, until very recently, were communities of
single males who gathered to form a semblance of family
It is hoped that this continued gathering of
data will furnish us with a broader perspective f the
past history and present condition of Asians in i'
United States. One should also note the statistic -
data gathered by Sung (1974, 1975a,1975b) from the 1
Census tapes. These social and economic characteristics
and population distribution data provide a wealth of new
materials for historians and social scientists to
analyze and interpret. In this respect, a number of
recent government documents also provide statistical
data on race and ethnic groups. (See HEW, 1974).
In the contemporary literature one also begins
to find greater attention to the diversity and complex-
ity of minority groups. Previously, the general
tendency has been to consider ethnic groups as monolithic.
A number of scholars, for example, have studied different
classes within Asian American groups. Nee and Nee (1972)
have explored the emergence of a new working class in
San Francisco's Chinatown, documented by Sung (1975a).
Lyman (1974), on the other hand, has described the
beginnings of a Chinese middle class after 1940.
Bonacich (1975) undertook a study of Japanese-Americans
who owned small businesses in an attempt to elucidate
the relationship between race or ethnicity and class.
She concluded that Japanese Americans who have small
businesses tend to have stronger community ties than
those who work in the corporate economy. She suggested
that ethnic solidarity would be weakened as more Nisei
enter the wider market. Studies such as these indicate,
once again, the inability of "tradition" and "culture" to
explain all components of the Asian American experience.
This analytical inadequacy suggests that the concept of
the "ethclass" proposed earlier by Milton Gordon77is
worth exploring in greater detail.
While there are still studies on "great men and
women" and their "contribution" to American society,
importance is being placed on the anonymous immigrants
and their achievements. Nee and Nee (1972) relate a
very human portrait of the past history and present
status of Chinese in the United States. Studies on
Asian American women are also making a much needed
appearance (Asian Women, 1971).
There is also a greater tendency for Asian-
Americans to examine their own experience and partici-
pation in history. Thus, there is an attempt to correct
the earlier trend of studying primarily what happened
to the Pacific migrants rather than what they did. For
example, Ichioka (1971) has examined the role of early
Issei socialists. As part of the endeavors of the
Chinese Historical Society of America,Chinn et al.
(1969) are attempting to record an accurate history of
the Chinese in the United States. Nee and Nee (1972),
through their use of oral history, are able to convey a
deeper understanding of the Asian-American experience.
This approach has also brought a very different perspec-
tive of the concentration camp period. An earlier work
by Okubo (1946) gave, in narrative and art form, a
general feeling of camp life. Weglyn (1976), after
digging through previously unused resource materials
and gathering personal recollections, describes a camp
experience which consisted:of brutality on the part of
War Relocation Area guards as well as organized resis-
tance on the part of Japanese-Americans. Hansen and
Hacker (1974) have tried to study the Manzanar Riot
through the eyes of some of its participants; and Nelson
(1976) had detailed how one camp at Heart Mountain
protested and organized a resistance movement against
the loyalty oath and the draft.
In summary, while:many of the earlier trends
continue to influence the literature, attempts have-been
made in recent literature to correct the errors of past
perspectives, or, at least, to broaden our understanding
of what it is to be an Asian in the United States.
Historians and social scientists have paid greater atten-
tion to the presence, diversity, and significance of
Asians in American civilization. They are also ill
in search of new social theories which can better explain
race and ethnic relations in America. Although it t~
outside the scope of this essay, it should be noted
that much of the contemporary materials on Asian-Amerisns
consist of literary efforts: namely, novels, poetry,
Finally, these recent emphases on data collec-
tion and reinterpretation have not been done without
some thought being given to the whole problem of
researching and studying minority groups (D. W. Sue and
S. Sue, 1972).
A FORWARD GLANCE: AMERICAN IMMIGRATION IN A
In this brief essay, I have highlighted some
trends and themes in the literature on the Pacific
migration. If the emphasis of-the paper has rested
upon the biases in the literature, it was done with the
hope that historians and social scientists might begin
to work towards a more balanced portrait of the life and
history of Pacific immigrants in the United States.
Clearly, as some writings from the recent period reveal,
serious revisionist thinking about the immigrant and
minority group experience is already underway. And,
where does one go from here? Much work is in progress
and from the number of Ph.D. dissertations that are
being completed in this related area, we should soon
see more. Despite these great strides, important areas
remain relatively untouched by researchers, and others
need to be further developed.
The study of American immigration has concerned
itself primarily with the "contribution" and the "adjust-
ment" of immigrants. In this respect, students of
American immigration have neglected one area of contribu-
tion, namely: labor, particularly, the role of Asian
labor. A systematic account of the role of Asian labor
and achievements in the development of the United States
would be invaluable. Furthermore, an understanding of
the significance of Asian American women to the Asian
community and to American society at large would be an
important contribution. Historians and social scientists
have also tended to study ethnic groups as isolated
cases. Comparative studies and research on inter-group
conflict and co-operation could shed additional light
on the American minority group experience.
Finally, the study of American immigration has
emphasized the national aspect of the migration phenome-
non and neglected its international dimension. American
immigration has taken place within a world or global
context. A recent conference on "The New Immigration:
Implications for the United States and the International
Community" convened by the Smithsonian Institution's
Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies
noted the importance of this worldwide context in which
people have moved and have been moved. A number of
papers at this conference stressed that the whole area
of the political economy of migration at a global level
is one of the most serious omissions in the study of
immigration.74 Thus, a re-examination of the Asian
Diaspora of the nineteenth century as well as the con-
temporary period is needed. Comparative studies of
Asian immigrants at the global level (there are sizable
Asian groups in sectors of Africa and South America,
and also the Caribbean, Canada, and Australia) may
contribute to a broader understanding of the Asian
experience in the United States.
Other scholars have begun studying the minority
group in international politics. Don Toshiaki Nakanishi,
for example, has developed a method of analyzing the
role that minority groups play in world politics and
the impact of international politics on minority groups.7
Some of my own research has involved an exploration of
Sino-American relations and its influence on U.S. immi-
gration policy relating to the Chinese.76 Future studies
of American immigration, and of the Pacific migration,
should take into consideration the political economy of
migration and its international dimension.*
*Since the completion of the manuscript, I have received a very
important publication, Counterpoint: Perspectives on Asian
America,. Emma Gee (ed.), Los Angeles: Asian American Studies
Center, UCLA, 1976. It is an anthology of selected original
and previously published works reflecting some of the current
thoughts in Asian American Studies. Along with its predecessor,
Roots: An Asian American Reader, Amy Tachiki et al (eds.),
Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, UCLA, 1971, this
volume serves as a useful tool for classroom instruction and
scholarly research. Although many of the works in this new
collection have been referred to in the above essay, future
studies should be guided by directions set forth in this recent
volume, especially Part I.
For additional details on methodology, syllabus, and
curriculum materials use in this course, see Shirley
Hune, "Asians in America: Teaching the Asian-American
Experience," Journal of Popular Culture (Spring 1977).
In The Great School Legend (New York: The Viking Press,
1972), Colin Greer has argued that educational reform
like all movements for social change in America is
essentially conservative. Far from preparing the new
immigrants, the poor and minority groups for integra-
tion into the mainstream of society or moving them
closer to the American Dream which educators declare,
the American public school system has nurtured, reflected
and perpetuated the dominance of the existing class
structure. Greer's assertion would support the beliefs
shared by many that these educational changes do not
go far enough and are merely symbolic.
In an interesting article, Lawrence P. Crouchett has
pointed out that Black and Ethnic Studies are not a
new phenomenon. In "The Development of the Sentiment
for Ethnic Studies in American Education," Journal of
Ethnic Studies 2, 4 (Winter 1975) pp. 77-85, Crouchett
states that ethnic studies have been a part of American
education for three hundred years. The difference
between the former sentiment and the more recent is
that earlier ethnic studies programs were "exclusive."
Working through ethnic community organizations, parents
assumed the responsibility of maintaining and trans-
mitting their culture, language and religious beliefs
to their children. The "new" sentiments attempt to be
universal and insist that the public schools assume
the duty of providing ethnic studies programs.
For some of the difficulties and challenges of teaching
in this field, see James A. Banks, (ed.) Teaching Eth.zic
Studies (Washington: National Council for the Social
Studies, 1973). Of special interest is Lowell K. Y.
Chun-Hoon's commentary and suggestions on teaching
courses relating to Asians in the United States:
"Teaching the Asian American experience."
This work is already well underway. As an example of
materials relating to women, one might look at Joanna
Schneider Zangrando's article, "Women's Studies in the
United States: Approaching Reality," American Studies
International (Autumn 1975). Various issues of The
Black Scholar, and volumes such as Joyce A. Ladner,
(ed.) The Death of White Sociology (New York: Random
House, 1973) reveal some of the revisionist thinking on
the Afro-American experience. For some of the discus-
sion on new approaches to the Chicano experience, see
the volumes of Aztlan and El Grito. Issues in t -dge
and Amerasia Journal also provide some evaluative
material on Asian-American literature.
The first such program was introduced in the California
higher education system as a direct result of the Third
World strike at San Francisco State College in 1968 and
the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969. In
1972, a program was also implemented in New York City at
City College, CUNY, another large Asian-American commu-
nity. Again, this came as a result of student demands.
Since that time other Asian American Studies programs
and courses relating to the Asian-American experience
have been introduced elsewhere. A discussion of the
origins of these student strikes and demands can be
found in Paul Wong, "The Emergence of the Asian-American
Movement," Bridge 2 (Sept./Oct. 1972) pp. 32-39 and R.
Takashi Yanagida, "Asian students vs. the Administration:
The Confrontation at CCNY," Bridge 1 (May/June, 1972),
I wish to draw the reader's attention to the pioneering
work done in this respect by Roger Daniels. Some aspects
of this essay rest upon his perceptive analysis of the
historiography of Chinese and Japanese-Americans. For
his work in this area, see "Westerners from the East:
Oriental Immigrants Reappraised," Pacific Historical
Review 35 (November 1966), pp. 373-383; "The Asian-
American Experience," in The Reinterpretation of American
History and Culture, (eds.) William H. Cartwright and
Richard L. Watson, Jr. (Washington, D.C.: National
Council for Social Studies, 1973); and "American Histo-
rians and East Asian Immigrants," Pacific Historical
Review 43 (November, 1974), pp. 449-472. However,
little if any analysis has been done on the social
science literature relating to Asian Americans.
John King Fairbank, "Assignment for the '70's," American
Historical Review 74 (February, 1969), pp. 861-79.
John King Fairbank, "America and China: The Mid-
Nineteenth Century," in American-East Asian Relations:
A Survey, (eds.) Ernest R. May and James C. Thomson,
Jr., (Cambridge: Harvard.University Press, 1972), pp.
1Edward N. Saveth, American Historians and European
Immigrants, 1875-1925 (New York: Columbia University
John Higham, History (New York: Harper & Row Harper
12Interestingly, Joseph S. Roucek has argued that American
historians have also been biased against Central and
Eastern Europe. These areas have never been considered
part of Western civilization. This opposition has been
reflected not only in the historical and social science
literature, but in U.S. immigration policy as well,
restricting the entry of non-Western European immigrants.
See "The Image of the Slav in U.S. History and in
Immigration Policy," American Journal of Economics and
Sociology 28 (January, 1969), pp. 29-48.
1Saveth, op. cit.
1For example, see Charles Morley's translation of Henryk
Sienkiewicz's report "The Chinese in California,"
California Historical Society Quarterly 34 (December,
1955), pp. 301-16. Mark Twain also made some acute
observations in Samuel L. Clemens, Roughing It, The
Works of Mark Twain, vol. 2. (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1972), especially pp. 350-:.
Issues of The Overland Monthly contain many arti -es
by missionaries and clergymen about Chinese living "n
the United States.
15For additional details on Hubert Howe Bancroft's
writings on Asians, the following volumes should be
noted: California Inter Pocula (San Francisco: The
History Co., 1888); Essays and Miscellany (San Fran-
cisco: The History Co., 1890); especially Chapter XIII,
"Mongolianism in America," History of California, 18C0-
1890, (San Francisco: The History Co., 1890); Chapter
XIV, "Chinese, the Labor Agitation, and Politics,"
Retrospection, Political and Personal (New York: The
Bancroft Co., 1912), and Chapter XIX, "Asia and Africa
16Bancroft, Retrospection, Political and Personal, p.
357. More recently, this concept has become
institutionalized into U.S. and Western European immi-
gration policy. One might look at the U.S. bracero
program with Mexico, the temporary workers programs or,
in Western Europe, the present day Guest Worker contract
1Rudolph J. Vecoli, "Ethnicity: A Neglected Dimension
of American History," in Herbert J. Bass, (ed.) The State
of American History (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1970).
1Vecoli, op. cit.
1Edith Abbott, Immigration: Select Documents and Case
Records (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1924),
20Arthur M. Schlesinger, "The Significance of Immigration
in American History," American Journal of Sociology 27
(July, 1921), pp. 71-85. This article later appeared
in different forms in New Viewpoints in American History
(New York: MacMillan, 1922) under the title, "The
Influence of Immigration in American History" and in
Paths to the Present (New York: Macmillan, 1949) under
the title, "The Role of the Immigrant."
21Henry Steele Commager, "The Study of Immigration," idem
Immigration and American History (Minneapolis: Univer-
sity of Minnesota Press, 1962) 3-7.
2Schlesinger, "The Significance of Immigration," p. 85.
2George M. Stephenson, A History of American Immigration,
1820-1924 (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1926).
2Carl F. Wittke, We Who Built America (Englewood Cliffs,
New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1940)
2Marcus Lee Hansen, The Atlantic Migration, 1607-1860
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940).
2Marcus Lee Hansen, The Immigrant in American History
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940).
2For a summary of Hansen's contributions to immigration
historiography, see H. Spear, "Marcus Lee Hansen and
the Historiography of Immigration," Wisconsin Magazine
of History (Summer 1961), pp. 258-68.
2For example, see Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted (New York:
Grosset and Dunlap, 1951) and Boston's Tmmigrants,
1790-1880, revised and enlarged ed., (Boston: Harvard
University Press, 1959).
2Colin Greer, (ed.) The Divided Society (New York:
Basic Books, Inc., 1974), especially Greer's co-''ents
in Part I of the volume.
3Oscar Handlin, The Newcomers (Boston: Harvard Uni -
sity Press, 1956).
31Handlin discusses some aspects of the role that race
and nationality have played in American history in
Race and Nationality in American Life (Garden City:
Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957).
32Maldwyn Allen Jones, American Immigration (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1960).
For example, Albert Faust, The German Element in the
United States with Special Reference to its Political,
Moral, Social and Educational Influence (Boston:
Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1909); Thomas Burgess, Greeks
in America; an Account of Their Coming, Progress,
Customs, Living and Aspirations with an Historical
Introduction on the Stories of Some Famous American
Greeks (Boston: German, Fr. and Co., 1913); Thomas
Capek, The Cechs (Bohemians) in America; a Study of Their
National, Cultural, Political, Social, Economic and
Religious Life (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1920).
The subtitles of these books is an indication of the
fervor with which they wrote about their national groups.
340scar and Mary F. Handlin, "The New History and the
Ethnic Factor in American Life," Perspectives in
American History 4 (1970), pp. 14-15.
35Roger Daniels, "The Asian American Experience," in
William H. Cartwright and Richard L. Watson, Jr., (eds.)
The Reinterpretation of American History and Culture
Washington, D.C.: National Council for the Social
36Vecoli, op. cit.
37Fairbank, "Assignment for the 70's," op. cit.
38Vecoli, op. cit., p, 74.
39John Horton, "Order and Conflict Theories of Social
Problems as Competing Ideologies," American Journal of
Sociology 71 (May, 1966), pp. 701-13.
40Edward G. Armstrong, "The System Paradigm and the
Sociological Study of Racial Conflict, Phylon 36
(March, 1975), pp. 8-13, and John Horton, op. cit.
41Robert E. Park, Race and Culture (Glencoe, Illinois:
Free Press, 1950).
Stanford M. Lyman, The Black American in Sociological
Thought (New York: Capricorn Books, 1973).
43Robert E. Park, "Human Migration and the Marginal Man,"
American Journal of Sociology 33 (May, 1928), p. 893.
44Park, ibid., pp. 881-893.
45Park, ibid., p. 892.
46Everett V. Stonequist, "The Problem of the Marginal
Man," American Journal of Sociology, XLI (July, 1935),
pp. 1-12; The Marginal Man (New York: Charles Scribner's
4For an excellent critique of Park's race-relations
cycle and its impact on race relations theory in the
context of Black America, see Stanford M. Lyman, op.
cit. Park's "marginal man" concept has been re-
evaluated by Milton M. Goldberg, "A Qualification of
the Marginal Man Theory," American Sociological Revi" ,
6 (1941), pp. 52-8; Arnold W. Green, "A Re-Examination
of the Marginal Man Concept," Social Forces 26 (Dec.
1947), pp. 167-171; and David L. Golovensky, "The
Marginal Man Concept," Social Forces 30 (March, 1952),
48William Ryan has argued that this tendency on the part
of social scientists to find fault with the "victim"
rather than the social structure developed, though
unintentionally, to rationalize maintenance of the
status quo. By this, they distort social reality and
oppose fundamental social change. See Blaming the
Victim (New York: Vintage Books, 1971).
49"Ethnic Groups in American Life," Daedalus 90 (Spring
50Milton M. Gordon, Assimilation in American Life (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1964).
51Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Beyond the
Melting Pot (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1963).
52Milton M. Gordon, "Assimilation in America: Theory
and Reality," Daedalus 90 (Spring, 1961), p. 274.
53Horace Kallen, "Democracy versus the Meltinig Pot,"
The Nation (Feb. 18-25, 1915), pp. 190-4, 217-20.
5For a review of the concept of ethnic pluralism in
American thought, see John Higham, Send These to Me
(New York: Antheum, 1975), pp. 196-230.
5Gordon, Daedalus, p. 90.
5Quoted in A. M. Schlesinger, Paths to the Present, p.
57Paul Siu, "The Sojourner," American Journal of Sociology
58 (1952), pp. 34-44.
5For an example of this popular belief, see Robert F.
Kennedy's introduction to John F. Kennedy's, A Nation
of Immigrants (New York: Harper and Row, 1964).
59William Ryan, op. cit.
6Marcus Lee Hansen, The Immigrant in American History
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940).
61William Ryan, op. cit.
6For a detailed account of Asian-American employment,
housing, poverty, and other socio-economic character-
istics, see U.S. Department of Health, Education and
Welfare. A Study of Selected Socio-Economic Character-
istics of Ethnic Minorities Based on the 1970 Census.
Vol. II: Asian Americans (Washington, D.C., 1974).
6For a discussion of cultural determinism and its influ-
ence on American social science literature, see "Sympo-
sium on Ethnic Enterprise in America:' Journal of
Ethnic Studies 1 (Winter, 1974) 69-88.
64Octavio Ignacio Romano has also argued that the con-
tinued use of the concept of Traditional Culture is
a distortion of Mexican-American history. See "The
Anthropology and the Sociology of the Mexican Americans:
The Distortion of Mexican American History," El 'rito
2 (Fall, 1968), 13-26.
6For a critique of the "California Thesis," see S. C.
Miller, The Unwelcome Immigrant (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1969), especially pp. 191-204.
6Charles B. Keely has contributed a number of articles
relating to the social impact of the Immigration Act
of 1965. For example, see "Effects of the Immigration
Act of 1965 on Selected Population Characteristics of
Immigrants to the U.S.," Demography 8 (May 1971), 157-
69; "The Demographic Effects of Immigration Legislation
and Procedures," Interpreter Releases 51 (April 3, 1974),
89-93; and "Effects of U.S. Immigration Laws on Man-
power Characteristics of Immigrants," Demography 12
(May 1975). 179-92. Note also the work done in this
area by Monica Boyd, "Oriental Immigration: the
Experience of the Chinese. Japanese, and Filippino
Population in the U.S.," International Migration Review
5 (SDring. 1971). 48-60 and "The Changing Nature of
the Central and Southeast Asian Immigration to the
United States: 1961-1972." International Migration
Review 8 (Winter. 1974). 507-20.
6For example. see Stokely Carmichael and Charles V.
Hamilton. Black Power (New York: Vintage, 1967); and
Michael Novak, The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics (New
York: Macmillan, 1971).
6Some of the studies in this area are by R. S. Schermer-
horn, Comparative Ethnic Relations: A Framework for
Theory and Research (New York: Random House, 1970);
H. M. Blalock, Jr., Toward a Theory of Minority-Group
Relations (New York: Wiley, 1967), and W. J. Wilson,
Power, Racism, and Privilege (London: Macmillan, 1973).
6Drawn from the literature of the Black experience in
the United States, application of the internal colon-
ialism concept to the U.S. Black population has emerged
from the writings of Kenneth B. Clark, particularly
Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power (New York:
Harper and Row, 1965). This concept has also been
expressed by Carmichael and Hamilton in Black Power
(New York: Vintage, 1967) and further developed by
Robert L. Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist America
(New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1969) and William
Tabb, The Political Economy of the Black Ghetto (New
York: Norton and Co., 1970). For a discussion of this
concept as it relates to ghetto revolts, see Robert
Blauner, Racial Oppression in America (New York: Harper
and Row, 1972), especially pp. 82-110.
70For example, see Thomas Almaquer, "Toward the Study of
Chicano Colonialism," Aztlan 2 (Spring, 1971) pp. 7-21
and Mario Barrera et at., "The Barrio as an Internal
Colony," in Harlan Hahn, (ed.), People and Politics in
Urban Society (Beverley Hills, Calif.: Sage Publica-
71For a description of this thesis, see Hubert M. Blalock,
Jr., Toward a Theory of Minority-Group Relations (New
York: Capricorn Books, 1970), pp. 79-84 and Edna
Bonacich, "A Theory of Middleman Minorities," American
Sociological Review 38 (October 1973), pp. 583-94.
72Milton Gordon, Assimilation in American Life (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1964), pp. 51-54.
73For an excellent introduction to the field of Asian-
American literature, see Frank Chin et al., Al-_'EEEE!
An Anthology of Asian-American Writers (Washingrci,
D.C.: Howard University Press, 1974).
7Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies,
The New Immigration: Implications for the United States
and the International Community -- Conference Proceedings
(Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1977).
75Don Toshiaki Nakanishi, "In Search of a New Paradigm:
Minorities in the Context of International Politics,"
Studies in Race and Nations 6 (Denver, Colorado:
University of Denver, 1974-75).
76Shirley Hune, "U.S. Immigration Policy and Chinese
Immigrants: An International Dimension" (doctoral
dissertation, The George Washington University, in
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