This course offers an in-depth survey of Asian American history and culture from the early twentieth century to the present starting with Congress's passage of the 1924 Asian Exclusion Act and culminating with an exploration of the experience of Asian Americans in society today. Drawing on an array of primary sources novels films and contemporary scholarship we examine the historical role Asian Americans have played in shaping our ideas of race gender labor empire and migration and we take a critical look at the category Asian American examining how it has been used to racialize immigrants while also being appropriated by activists as a positive political identity. We examine the allure of the idea of Asian Americans as a model minority as well as the ways such narratives oversimplify Asian America and contribute to discrimination against other communities of color. Through our conversations and coursework we ultimately seek to arrive at an understanding of what Asian America is and why it is important for a deeper understanding of American history.
Harvard Division of Continuing Education
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