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Asian/Pacific Islander American Women

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Asian/Pacific Islander American Women

A Historical Anthology

e d i t e d b y

Shirley Hune and Gail M. Nomura

a New York University Press n e w y o r k a n d l o n d o n

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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n e w y o r k u n i v e r s i t y p r e s s New York and London

© 2003 by New York University

All rights reserved.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Asian / Pacific Islander American women : a historical anthology

/ edited by Shirley Hune and Gail M. Nomura.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-8147-3632-7 (acid-free paper)

ISBN 0-8147-3633-5 (pbk. : acid-free paper)

1. Asian American women—History. 2. Pacific Islander American

women—History. 3. Asian American women—Social conditions.

4. Pacific Islander American women—Social conditions. 5. United

States—Ethnic relations. I. Hune, Shirley. II. Nomura, Gail M.

E184.O6A855 2003

973'.0495'082—dc21 2003002436

New York University Press books are printed on acid-free paper,

and their binding materials are chosen for strength and durability.

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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For Asian American and Pacific Islander American women

and

In loving memory of my parents, Don Hune and Jacqueline Gar Yin Hune, and

for the Hune, Chan, and Singham families s.h.

For my mother, Leatrice Sakayo Nomura, and my daughter, Emi Fumiyo Nomura Sumida

g.m.n.

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Through “Our” Eyes: Asian/Pacific Islander American Women’s History 1

Shirley Hune

Introduction: On Our Terms: Definitions and Context 16 Gail M. Nomura

part i Re-envisioning Women’s History

1 Constructed Images of Native Hawaiian Women 25 Davianna Pomaika‘i McGregor

2 Unlearning Orientalism: Locating Asian and Asian American Women in Family History 42

Kathleen Uno

3 What Happened to the Women? Chinese and Indian Male Migration to the United States in Global Perspective 58

Sucheta Mazumdar

part ii Revisiting Immigrant Wives and Picture Brides

4 Exclusion Acts: Chinese Women during the Chinese Exclusion Era, 1882–1943 77

Erika Lee

5 Housewives, Men’s Villages, and Sexual Respectability: Gender and the Interrogation of Asian Women at the Angel Island Immigration Station 90

Jennifer Gee

6 Redefining the Boundaries of Traditional Gender Roles: Korean Picture Brides, Pioneer Korean Immigrant Women, and Their Benevolent Nationalism in Hawai‘i 106

Lili M. Kim

vii

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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part iii Recovering Women’s History through Oral History and Journal Writing

7 “A Bowlful of Tears”: Lee Puey You’s Immigration Experience at Angel Island 123

Judy Yung

8 Filipina American Journal Writing: Recovering Women’s History 138 Gail M. Nomura

part iv Contesting Cultural Formations and Practices, Constructing New “Hybrid” Lives

9 “The Ministering Angel of Chinatown”: Missionary Uplift, Modern Medicine, and Asian American Women’s Strategies of Liminality 155

Judy Tzu-Chun Wu

10 Japanese American Girls’ Clubs in Los Angeles during the 1920s and 1930s 172

Valerie J. Matsumoto

11 Contested Beauty: Asian American Women’s Cultural Citizenship during the Early Cold War Era 188

Shirley Jennifer Lim

12 Passed into the Present: Women in Hawaiian Entertainment 205 Amy Ku‘uleialoha Stillman

part v Reshaping Lives and Communities after Militarism and War

13 Imagined Community: Sisterhood and Resistance among Korean Military Brides in America, 1950–1996 221

Ji-Yeon Yuh

14 Managing Survival: Economic Realities for Vietnamese American Women 237

Linda Trinh Võ

15 Scarred, yet Undefeated: Hmong and Cambodian Women and Girls in the United States 253

Sucheng Chan

part vi Negotiating Globalization, Work, and Motherhood

16 Asian Immigrant Women and Global Restructuring, 1970s–1990s 271

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas

17 Politicizing Motherhood: Chinese Garment Workers’ Campaign for Daycare Centers in New York City, 1977–1982 286

Xiaolan Bao

viii Contents

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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18 Caring across Borders: Motherhood, Marriage, and Filipina Domestic Workers in California 301

Charlene Tung

part vii Challenging Community and the State: Contemporary Spaces of Struggle

19 Asian Lesbians in San Francisco: Struggles to Create a Safe Space, 1970s–1980s 319

Trinity A. Ordona

20 Relocating Struggle: Filipino Nurses Organize in the United States 335

Catherine Ceniza Choy

21 Opening Spaces: South Asian American Women Leaders in the Late Twentieth Century 350

Madhulika S. Khandelwal

22 Chamorro Women, Self-Determination, and the Politics of Abortion in Guam 365

Vivian Loyola Dames

part viii Additional Resources

23 Asian American and Pacific Islander American Women as Historical Subjects: A Bibliographic Essay 385

Shirley Hune

24 “In Her Eyes”: An Annotated Bibliography of Video Documentaries on Asian/Pacific Islander American Women 401

Nancy In Kyung Kim

About the Contributors 417

Index 421

Contents ix

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Acknowledgments

This anthology marks an important stage not only in the study of Asian American and Pacific Islander American women’s history but also in the development of collaborative efforts among scholars who share this interest. We are grateful to all who expressed in- terest and support for this anthology. We particularly thank our authors for their valu- able research and contribution to this book and to the field of women’s history. We thank Jesianne Asagi for contributing her assemblage, Personal Effects, for the cover de- sign. We gratefully acknowledge the anonymous reviewers who provided helpful com- ments and critiques. Thanks are due to our students who have inspired us to compile this anthology and whose questions have shaped our thinking on the subject. We are also grateful for the support of the Graduate Division at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Wash- ington, our colleagues, and staff. We thank both Ellen Palms and Kenyon S. Chan for their assistance with the many computer program issues that came up and Rosie Bal- donado for her general support. Our special thanks go to Jennifer Hammer, editor, New York University Press, for her commitment to this project and for guidance, encour- agement, support, and patience in the long process, and to Emily Park of NYU Press for her professionalism and skill. We are also very appreciative of the design and produc- tion staff at NYU Press. Finally, we especially thank Kenyon S. Chan, Sparky, Stephen H. Sumida, Emi Nomura Sumida, Maya, and Chibi for their loving support and never- ending patience.

xi

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Introduction Through “Our” Eyes:

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women’s History

Shirley Hune

There is a great need for an anthology of recent scholarship on Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history that both centers women and reinterprets their lives through “our” eyes—the viewpoints of the participants themselves and the critical per- spectives of scholars of women’s history. In this book, we reframe history about Asian/Pacific Islander American women by considering them as historical agents ac- tively engaged in determining their lives and those of their families, communities, and larger entities, albeit within multiple and complex constraints. As such, Asian/Pacific Is- lander American Women recognizes the “simultaneity of oppression and resistance” as a “qualitative difference” in the lives of women of color.1

This anthology goes beyond simply contesting male-centered or other privileged analyses of women’s lives to present new knowledge and fresh perspectives for both teaching and advancing research. Its purpose is twofold. We are concerned about the absence of curriculum materials on the history of Asian/Pacific Islander American women. Collections of literary writings, criticisms, and contemporary studies are avail- able, but anthologies devoted to historical studies are woefully lacking. Furthermore, much of the new research on Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history remains inaccessible to the classroom, being scattered in monographs, book chapters, journal articles, and unpublished dissertations. This book can serve as a major text in Asian/Pa- cific Islander American women’s courses and as an additional resource in Asian Amer- ican and Asian/Pacific American Studies,2 Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, American Studies, and U.S. history courses.

We also seek to advance research and scholarship by bringing together in one vol- ume some of the best new works in Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history. We have been excited by research that focuses on the women’s lives and viewpoints and that gives them voice. Such an approach transforms epistemology—what we know and how we know it—and how we do history. Fresh perspectives, innovative methodolo- gies, and newfound and underutilized sources are contributing original findings and alternative interpretations about Asian/Pacific Islander American women. To better understand how this anthology both is innovative and fills a gap, I briefly assess the

1

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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current limitations and the common approaches to teaching and scholarly writing on their history to date.

The Difference That Asian/Pacific American Studies and Women’s Studies Make and Their Limitations

What do we know about Asian/Pacific Islander American women in history? How do we know what we know about them? And in what ways did our knowledge about their lives, aspirations, choices, and contributions change over the last three decades of the twentieth century? Since the early 1970s, new interdisciplinary fields of study have chal- lenged the omission, invisibility, and misrepresentation of women and of racial and ethnic minority groups in all disciplines, especially history. Asian American Studies, for example, has sought to recover and reclaim Asian Americans, and to a lesser extent Pa- cific Islander Americans, from the margins of history and to envision a new history of their presence, goals, and activities in the United States and other homelands. Similarly, Women’s Studies has sought to transform historical knowledge and practice by center- ing women’s viewpoints and experiences. Both fields have questioned traditional inter- pretations and methodologies; promoted alternative approaches, such as oral history; identified additional and often undervalued sources, including personal journals and community newspapers; and encouraged new research topics. They also have embed- ded their analyses in structures of power and linked historical inquiry to social change. In short, epistemological concerns have been and continue to be central issues of Asian/Pacific American Studies and Women’s Studies.

The contemporary struggles to make Asian/Pacific Islander American women visi- ble, to give them voice, and to acknowledge their role in community and nation build- ing are an outgrowth of the establishment of Asian/Pacific American Studies and Women’s Studies on U.S. campuses after 1969. Nevertheless, numerous scholars have commented on the extent to which women of color are marginalized in history (and other fields). Both Asian American Studies and Women’s Studies have illuminated as- pects of Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s lives, yet these fields are not without their shortcomings. In Asian American Studies, race is the organizing category and the master narrative remains male-centered. Hence the historical significance of women is rendered invisible when their lives, interests, and activities are subsumed within or con- sidered to be the same as those of men. And given the predominance of scholars in the field with Asian American interests, examination of the perspectives, voices, and history of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander American women is rare indeed.

Women’s Studies, by contrast, centers women and features gender as the category of difference. But as critiques by feminist scholars of color have demonstrated, Women’s Studies has yet to shift from its dominant paradigm of white leisured middle-class women’s aspirations, ideologies, and experiences to one that more fully encompasses the complexity and differences that race, class, sexuality, religion, national origin, citi- zenship status, and other categories bring to women’s everyday lives. Here, too, Asian/Pacific Islander American women are marginalized. At best their lived realities

2 i n t r o d u c t i o n — s h i r l e y h u n e

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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with their particular power relationships and intersections are hidden or homogenized within the larger category of women generally or women of color specifically.

Given the current limitations in these two fields, can a focus on Asian/Pacific Is- lander American women make a difference in teaching and scholarly work about their historical significance and contributions?

The Asian American Women’s Survey Course and Scholarly Production

Nancy Kim has documented the evolution of the general survey course on Asian Amer- ican Women (the most common title) from 1970 to 1998. As Asian/Pacific Islander American women resisted (alongside male counterparts) their exclusion from full par- ticipation in U.S. society and demanded curriculum change and access to higher edu- cation, they argued for a course of their own. History, contemporary issues, and women’s activism are the three major areas of the course.3

Asian American women’s courses, Kim noted, are generally initiated and housed in Asian American Studies rather than in Women’s Studies. The first known women’s course was taught at the University of California at Berkeley in 1970. Today, only a few campuses regularly offer more than one course on Asian American women and gender issues related to Asian Americans; more campuses offer a single general women’s course, and often only occasionally. Nonetheless, the women’s course, Kim concludes, is a case study in transformative education. It challenges traditional offerings by legiti- mating a new curriculum and empowering students and faculty of color. It is also often a site for developing an Asian American feminist pedagogy whereby the traditional hi- erarchical teacher-centered classroom is converted into a more democratic student- centered one, and knowledge is applied “through collective processes” to serve the com- munity and change social inequities.4

Kim found that the women’s course gained acceptance in mainstream academia over time. She identifies three phases: experimentation, 1970–1975; institutionalization, 1976–1989; and professionalization, 1990 onward. In phase 1, it was primarily gradu- ate students and staff who taught the course, on a temporary basis. In phase 2, the course was offered on a regular basis, generally taught by full-time faculty, and gained institutional legitimacy with the support and growth of Women’s Studies. By phase 3, undergraduate students could take the women’s course as part of their general educa- tion requirement, and tenure-track faculty recruited specifically for their expertise in Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies were training graduate students in different disci- plines on women’s topics in Asian American Studies.5

The growth in research, scholarship, and curriculum materials on Asian/Pacific Is- lander American women parallels these phases of the women’s course. In the experi- mental phase, very few written materials were available for the classroom. Women col- lege students produced booklets of reading materials by combining historical research; personal reflections; interviews with mothers, grandmothers, and noted women ac- tivists; and editorials about women’s conditions in the United States and the Third World.6 Roots and Counterpoint, two influential readers adopted in the first Asian

Through “Our” Eyes 3

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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American Studies courses in the 1970s, featured only a few articles on women, and the volumes in no way centered women’s experiences and perspectives.7

Through the 1980s and institutionalization, the women’s course utilized ethnic-spe- cific autobiographies, biographies, and novels to explore historical experiences and so- cial science articles to cover contemporary issues.8 Kim identifies the publication of Making Waves in 1989 as the beginning of the professionalization of Asian American women’s studies. It was adopted as a text in most of the women’s courses in the 1990s.9

From the 1990s on, there has been an outpouring of works about Asian/Pacific Is- lander American women. Collectively, they are addressing the shortcomings of Asian American Studies and Women’s Studies outlined above. The range of genres, including memoirs, life stories, biographies, histories, ethnographies, literary critiques, literary works, and social science and cultural studies, reflects the interdisciplinary training of the authors. Some of the writings, often as monographs, focus on one individual or on an ethnic-specific group. Others are collections of pan-ethnic writings on an array of topics in a disciplinary or multidisciplinary reader, anthology, or special journal issue.10

In short, the scholarly production of Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s writings is vibrant, multifaceted, and multidisciplinary, but historical anthologies are hard to find. This brings us to the second aspect of the purpose of Asian/Pacific Islander Amer- ican Women—to showcase new research that reframes them as active subjects of his- tory.

Historicizing Women

How does this anthology fit into the larger project of reconstructing history generally and Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history specifically? How has the frame- work of U.S. history changed and been changed by the inclusion of Asian/Pacific Is- lander American women? In what ways have they been included in history, and how has a particular approach influenced what we know about them?

A number of scholars have noted the limited scholarship on Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history, and some have offered alternative proposals to address women’s absence and misrepresentation.11 It is not within the scope of this introduc- tion to provide a full historiography here. What follows is a brief discussion of common approaches to the study of Asian/Pacific Islander American women—painted with very broad brush strokes—and some of the strengths and weaknesses of these historical frameworks. How are Asian/Pacific Islander American women constructed historically?

Historical Frameworks12

Making Women Invisible. In this long-standing historical framework, Asian/Pacific Is- lander American women are omitted or absented in historical writings in spite of their lived realities. A focus on men’s immigration, men’s labor, and men’s politics that fails to acknowledge women’s immigration, women’s work, and their activities and organi- zations, which are concomitant, are a few examples. Hence one learns very little about Asian/Pacific Islander American women in history when they are rendered invisible.

4 i n t r o d u c t i o n — s h i r l e y h u n e

Asian/Pacific Islander American Women : A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune, and Gail M. Nomura, New York University Press, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fullerton/detail.action?docID=866119. Created from fullerton on 2022-05-31 22:30:31.

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Discovering Women. A few individual women (e.g., Queen Lili‘uokalani) are identified in this framework. Limited categories of women (e.g., picture brides, garment workers) and specific aspects of their lives are also made visible. These women are frequently nameless, however. More important, in uncovering the presence of Asian/Pacific Is- lander American women, the dominant narrative of a male-centered history prevails. And too often the discovered women are viewed as exceptions, anomalies, or prob- lems—in other words, “deviants” from traditionally defined womanhood.

Marginalizing Women. In this framework, the presence, roles, and contributions of Asian/Pacific Islander American women cannot be dismissed, however, their history is treated as interesting but less important. Thus women are added to the main story but confined to its margins, sometimes figuratively in sidebars and special features of text- books. At best, their history is considered tangential to the master narrative and its con- cerns. Consequently, the women enter history primarily in the context of the main nar- rative and lack significance in their own right. Incomplete and distorted in their repre- sentation, Asian/Pacific Islander American women remain the “other.”

During the last two decades, many scholars have been engaged in moving marginalized groups to the center of their fields of study. Their efforts have been both welcomed and challenged. Some feminist scholars, for example, have argued that one cannot simply add women into the knowledge mix, stir, and hope to adequately reconstruct history (or other disciplines). They call for new approaches. We too find the conceptual frame- work of centering women to be complex and ask, how are Asian/Pacific Islander Amer- ican women being centered in history, and through whose eyes? At least three distinct frameworks have been deployed so far.

Centering Women (but within Traditional Parameters). When Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s history is moved from the margins to the center, it can still be con- sidered through a dominant lens, such as a male lens or a white feminist lens. These lenses tend to recreate parameters of what is important and valued that continue to misrepresent Asian/Pacific Islander American women’s lives in spite of their being cen- tered. For example, the women’s experiences as workers and in families cannot be ade- quately explained within male definitions of work or white middle-class women’s di- chotomy of public and private domains. Nor are the social networks and activities of Asian/Pacific Islander American women in support of community building fully ac- knowledged and respected using this construction.

Centering Women as Objects of History. In this framework, Asian/Pacific Islander Amer- ican women are viewed as historical subjects in their own right but interpreted as ob- jects of history.13 They may be health care workers, community activists, or military brides, for example, but the women are seen primarily as victims or passive actors caught up in history and societal change. One learns more about their multiple op- pressions and the larger social forces and power structures that subordinate women

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