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Community-building in San Diego

Mobilizing an Asian American Community

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Linda Trinh Vő

Social Science Book Honorable Mention, Association for Asian American Studies, 2006

"Linda Vő makes a timely and original contribution to the literature on Asian American activism and also to the sociology of social movements and mobilization. She provides a nuanced and fine-grained analysis of the mobilization of Asian Americans in San Diego during a crucial period of demographic change in the Asian American population."
Evelyn Nakano Glenn, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor

Focusing on San Diego in the post-Civil Rights era, Linda Trinh Vő examines the ways Asian Americans drew together—despite many differences within the group—to construct a community that supports a variety of social, economic, political, and cultural organizations.

Using historical materials, ethnographic fieldwork, and interviews, Linda Trinh Vő traces the political strategies that enable Asian Americans to bridge ethnicity, generation, gender, language, and class differences, among others. She demonstrates that mobilization is not a smooth, linear process and shows how the struggle over ideologies, political strategies, and resources affects the development of community organizations. Vő also analyzes how Asian Americans construct their relationship with Asia and how they forge relationships with other racialized communities of color. Vő argues that the situation in San Diego illuminates other localities across the country where Asians face challenges trying to organize, find sufficient resources, create leaders, and define strategies.

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Excerpt

Read the Introduction and an excerpt from Chapter 2 (pdf).

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Reviews

"Linda Trinh Vő's study offers a powerful critique of simplistic notions of assimilation by demonstrating how race is understood and used as a basis for political mobilization among both immigrants and native-born Asian Americans. Rather than simply disappearing as economic and social status increase, Vő demonstrates how and why racial identities continue to have significance in their everyday lives."
Leland T. Saito, Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

"Innovative, well written, and accessible...Vő meet[s] the challenges of Asian America in the twenty-first century, incorporating both the new theories and methodologies coming out of ethnic studies as well as the dynamic new characteristics of this now largely immigrant community, with its rapid growth in size and complex internal diversity."
Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Professor of History and Ethnic Studies, and Director, Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, Brown University

"Remarkable as research and explanation, Mobilizing an Asian American Community demystifies the exhilarating processes of intellectual labors and identity formations as they engage interactively shifting demographies, racializations, political economies, and representations. A singular achievement."
Gary Y. Okihiro, author of Common Ground: Reimagining American History

"[The book] provides a fresh perspective of the Asian-American issues to the reader... Vo re-enforces the need of continuing changes in a community with new or different demands."
Korean Quarterly

"[T]he book is positive, coherent, and strives mightily to be non-judgmental. Vő's book would prove especially valuable to the API community's younger members..."
Asia

"If you are interested in non-fiction and the process of mobilization, whether you are Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, all or none of the above, Mobilizing An Asian American Community will shed some light on this continual process of community kinship, and perhaps inspire the activist in you."
ChopBlock.com

"[Vő] has written an important book that explores the complicated processes of community organization and identity formation. Written in an accessible style, Vő's book makes important contributions to understanding the Asian American movement outside larger cities and to countering misconceptions of Asian Americans as apathetic and apolitical. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
Choice

"Rather than seeing this development as a smooth, linear process, Vő proposes an 'interactive mobilization model' to capture the interplay between resistance and accommodation by a minority population."
Sage Race Relations Abstracts

"This book will be indispensable reading for students of racial/ethnic mobilization, or Asian American and immigrant identities. Ethnic activists who seek to understand their own work will also find the book insightful."
Mobilization

"...timely and well-written... Vő's book shed important light on community mobilization on the basis of ethnicity in a diverse society. ...This thoughtful and insightful book is a useful addition to the limited literature on community mobilization among ethnic minorities in general and Asian Americans in particular."
The Journal of Sociology and Social Work

"Mobilizing an Asian American Community is accessibly written, well-researched, and clearly argued. It ably explains how ethnic and racial identities are continually reconstructed, how they coexist and mutually inform each other, and how they impact the lives, experiences, and political actions of Asian Americans. It constitutes an original and valuable addition to the literature on Asian American identity formation."
The Journal of American Ethnic History

"Linda Trinh Vő's study presents rich experiences of mobilizing the Asian American community. It is noteworthy to indicate that the lessons learned from Asian American community and community organizing also can be of great value to community social work practitioners operating in today's multicultural society."
The Journal of Community Practice

"Vo's book is well crafted and offers an important examination of the issues galvanizing the contemporary Asian American community and the complexities surrounding panethnic organizing.... It is a must read for scholars, activists, and policymakers concerned with racial exclusion, community building, and identity formation."
Contemporary Sociology

"Linda Trinh Vő has written a pleasant book on the political mobilization of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans in San Diego...[she] knows a lot of details about a number of politic fronts."
Qualitative Sociology

"As a whole, Mobilizing an Asian American Community is an innovative and exceptional book that attempts to address many different facets of the ‘Asian American’ experience. As such, this book will be a valuable addition to any reading list that addresses social movements among different radical groups, immigrant history, and/or racial identity."
City and Community

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Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: Paths of Resistance and Accommodation for Asian Americans
2. Asian Immigration and Settlement in San Diego
3. The Politics of Social Services for a "Model Minority": The Union of Pan Asian Communities
4. Cultural Images and the Media: Racialization and Oppositional Practices
5. Economic Positioning: Resources, Opportunities, and Mobilization
6. "Where Do We Stand?" Politics, Representation, and Leadership
7. Mapping Asian America: In Search of "Our" History and "Our" Community
8. Ambiguities and Contradictions: Narratives of Identity and Community
9. Conclusion: Milestones and Crossroads for Asian Americans
List of Interviewees
Notes
References
Index

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About the Author(s)

Linda Trinh Vő is Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine; she is the co-editor with Rick Bonus of Contemporary Asian American Communities: Intersections and Divergences (Temple). She also co-edited with Marian Sciachitano Asian American Women: The "Frontiers" Reader and co-edited with Gilbert Gonzalez, Raul Fernandez, Vivian Price, and David Smith Labor Versus Empire: Race, Gender, and Migration.

Subject Categories

Asian American Studies
Sociology
Urban Studies


In the series

Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Vő.

The "standard" written histories of Asian immigrants to the United States have been imbued with Western cultural biases. As a critique and corrective to earlier work, Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Vő, aims to develop a history of Asian Americans that is compatible with their own experience, that treats Asian Americans as agents of historical change and as creators of a new culture. In addition, this series intends to focus on the groups that are flourishing in the contemporary U.S.—Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese—about whom little has been written as well as to add to the substantial work done on the Chinese and Japanese in this country.

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