Asian Americans have quite recently emerged as an increasingly important force in American politics. In 1996, more than 300 Asian and Pacific Americans were elected to federal, state, and local offices; today, more than 2,000 hold appointive positions in government. Asian American voices have been prominent in policy debates over such matters as education, race relations, and immigration reform. On a more discordant note, a national controversy with racial overtones erupted in 1996–97 over alleged illegal Asian and Asian American campaign contributions and illicit foreign influences on American politics, and in 1999 another controversy arose over allegations that a Chinese American physicist had passed nuclear secrets to the Chinese government.

Yet little scholarly attention has been devoted to understanding the engagement of Asian Americans with American politics. This volume of fifteen essays is the first to take a broad-ranging look at the phenomenon. Its contributors are drawn from a variety of disciplines—history, political science, sociology, and urban studies—and from the practical political realm. They discuss such topics as the historical relationship of Asians to American politics, the position of Asian Americans in America’s legal and racial landscape, recent Asian American voting behavior and political opinion, politics and the evolving demographics of the Asian American population, current national controversies involving Asian Americans, conclusions drawn from regional and local case studies, and the future of Asian Americans in American politics.

Gordon H. Chang is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Stanford University. He is the author of Morning Glory, Evening Shadow: Yamato Ichihashi and His Internment Writings, 1942–1945 (Stanford, 1997), and Friends and Enemies: The United States, China, and the Soviet Union, 1948–1972 (Stanford, 1990).



Gordon H. Chang

Part One: Framing the Discussion
1. Asian Americans and Politics: Some Perspectives from History
Gordon H. Chang
2. The Racial Triangulation of Asian Americans
Claire Jean Kim
3. Citizenship Nullification: The Impossibility of Asian American Politics
Neil T. Gotanda
4. Beyond Electoral Politics: Renewing a Search for a Paradigm of Asian Pacific American Politicism
Don T. Nakanishi

Part Two: Voting Behavior
5. Asian Americans as the Median Voters: An Exploration of Attitudes and Voting Patterns on Ballot Initiatives
Wendy K. Tam Cho and Bruce E. Cain
6. Changing of the Guard? The Emerging Immigrant Majority in Asian American Politics
Paul M. Ong and David E. Lee
7. Voting Participation: Race, Gender, and the Comparative Status of Asian American Women
Pei-Te Lien

Part Three: Emerging Political Identities
8. U.S.-Born, Immigrant, Refugee, or Indigenous Status: Public Policy Implications for Asian Pacific American Families
Kenyon S. Chan
9. Asian Pacific American Youth: Pathways for Political Participation
Peter Nien-Chu Kiang
10. Seen, Rich, but Unheard? The Politics of Asian Indians in the United States
Sanjeev Khagram, Manish Desai, and Jason Varughese
11. The Impact of Mainstream Political Mobilization of Asian American Communities: The Case of Korean Americans in Los Angeles, 1992–1998
Edward J. W. Park

Part Four: Toward a Future
12. People from China Crossing the River: Asian American Political Empowerment and Foreign Influence
Frank H. Wu and Francey Lim Youngberg
13. Lessons Learned from the “Locke for Governor” Campaign
Judy Yu and Grace T. Yuan
14. Building on the Indigenous Base: The Fund-Raising Controversy and the Future of Asian American Political Participation
Paul Y. Watanabe
15. Asian Americans and Multiracial Political Coalitions: New York City’s Chinatown and Redistricting, 1990–1991
Leland T. Saito


“The collection presents valuable insights into the growing political maturity of Asian American communities.”—California History

“This is an extraordinarily good collection of essays, one of the finest of its kind that I have encountered.… [The essays] are topically varied, theoretically and ideologically diverse, and comprehensive.”—Journal of American Ethnic History