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Asian Americans in DixieRace and Migration in the South$

Jigna Desai and Khyati Y. Joshi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037832

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037832.001.0001

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Discrepancies in Dixie: Asian Americans and the South

Discrepancies in Dixie: Asian Americans and the South

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction Discrepancies in Dixie: Asian Americans and the South
Source:
Asian Americans in Dixie
Author(s):

Jigna Desai

Khyati Y. Joshi

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037832.003.0001

Abstract and Keywords

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the relationship between the Asian American and the American South. The figure of the Asian American is perceived to be discrepant in and antithetical to the American South. Within the American imaginary, the Asian American as perpetual foreigner and alien is always seen as a recent immigrant, and therefore associated with contemporary times, while the South is perceived as an anachronistic and isolated region. This renders the two—the Asian American and the South—allegedly mutually exclusive and incongruous. In these imaginings, the South remains a space quintessentially American but one steeped in an antebellum era of White supremacy, anti-Black racism, and outdated isolation. In supposed contrast stands the figure of the Asian American who is associated with immigration and borders, globalization, and contemporaneity.

Keywords:   Asian American, American South, American imaginary, White supremacy, anti-Black racism, immigration, contemporaneity

The figure of the Asian American is perceived to be discrepant in and antithetical to the U.S. South.1 Within the American imaginary, the Asian American as perpetual foreigner and alien is always seen as a recent immigrant, and therefore associated with contemporary times,2 while the South is perceived as an anachronistic and isolated region; this renders the two—the Asian American and the South—allegedly mutually exclusive and incongruous. In these imaginings, the South remains a space quintessentially American but one steeped in an antebellum era of White supremacy, anti-Black racism, and outdated isolation; in supposed contrast stands the figure of the Asian American who is associated with immigration and borders, globalization, and contemporaneity. Even in assertions of the “New South” as a modern, industrial, and cosmopolitan space, there is little mention of Asian migration;3 instead the “new” refers to two different moments, one beginning after the Civil War and the other indicating the economic boom in which global manufacturing industries became located in the South.4 In all of these formulations, Asian Americans are mentioned, rarely if at all, when speaking about the South. Consequently, Asian Americans are perceived to be doubly foreign within the context of the South as a U.S. region; they might be perceived to be and to create what we might call “discrepancies in Dixie.”5

In contrast, historiographical scholarship within Asian American studies has for several decades documented the presence and significance of Asian Americans in the South. Narratives of Asian American historiography often begin with the “Manilamen”—Filipino sailors who jumped ship and traveled to Louisiana over land via Mexico.6 Additional figures, Chinese coolies, South Asian peddlers and lascars (sailors), Chinese Mississippians, Vietnamese refugee communities in New Orleans, and Indian Gujarati motel owners are peppered throughout the scholarship.7 However, these figures quickly appear in and disappear from understandings of the South as well as the Asian American Studies “canon.”8 Hence, while they offer some “local” color to Asian American historiography, (p.2) for the most part, Asian Americans in the South become quirky exceptions to the larger story of Asian America that is configured through its bicoastal, if not Californiacentric, paradigm. Rather than see these historical figures as discrete or random aberrations, we place them in close proximity to each other in order to demonstrate and explore the presence and significance of Asian Americans to the South. This proximity allows us to consider the racialized historical and contemporary presence9 of Asian Americans in the South to trouble our formulations of Asian America, the South, and racial projects within the United States.

By resituating Asian Americans in the South, this anthology considers the discrepancies that are produced by this dis-placement. We find the many meanings of discrepant—discordant, dissident, disagreeing, and variant—productive in considering Asian Americans and the South. The figure of the Asian American disrupts popular discourses about the South in multiple ways: the Asian American demonstrates the shifting meaning of Black and White in a region in which this binary is writ large; is associated with foreignness and globalization in a space assumed to be parochial and isolated; and most generally, troubles more simple narratives of America’s own amnesia around his/her presence. It is important to note that the South itself is considered a discrepancy within, rather than an exemplar of, the nation.10 We seek not to be mired in the debate about Southern distinction, but rather seek to understand how Asian American racial formations within the South participate in regional, national, and transnational racial projects. As Asian Americans and the South are both taken as exceptional and anomalous, we seek to question these logics and expectations, asking how the stakes may change if we see them as a lens into this region and the nation. In other words, we believe that much can be gained when we consider Asian Americans in the South.

The anthology considers the presence of Asian Americans in the South in terms of demographics and epistemology. Racial demographics are radically changing within many emerging Asian American communities located in the South. Long studied through the lens of Black-White relations, studies of race in the South are increasingly attempting to contend with the increasing presence of Asian Americans and Latino Americans and their shifting racializations within the context of the contemporary South. We want to emphasize that the significance of Asian Americans to the South is not merely numerical or demographic. As many scholars have argued, historically, the figure of the Chinese and Indian coolie has been essential for the discourses of freedom and race during Emancipation in the South, despite the low number of actual Chinese and Indian migrants. Thus, a deliberation on the Asian American presence, past and present, can provoke a consideration of Asian American racial formations and migrations in regard to the broader constitutions of race, region, empire, and the nation-state. Consequently, interdisciplinary scholarship on race in the South has considered three important and related points: 1) the impact of the South’s history of transnationalism on (p.3) racial formations; 2) the historical racialization of Whites (e.g., Arabs and Jews) within the context of Black, White, and Asian American racial formations in the South; and 3) the role of Afro-Asian connections in producing Asian American and African American racial formations as relational.

In this manner, Asian American racial formations in the South have been understood in relation to other racial formations regionally, nationally, and transnationally; hence, several of the essays in this anthology attend to the nuanced ways in which Asian American racial formations are located in relation to the hegemony of the Black and White binary. Other essays provoke us to reconsider the isolationist narratives of the South, reintroducing the South as located in a historical web of global networks stretching across the Caribbean, Pacific, and Atlantic. As discrepant subjects, Asian Americans in the South suggest more than a project of recovery and recuperation. Instead, reflecting on the Asian American presence can be a method of reconsidering discourses of race, slavery, empire, citizenship, and the nation-state in broad terms. Therefore, it is not just the contemporary demographics that scholars must reckon with—it is the epistemological presence and absence (erasure, elision, and disappearance) of these racialized figures that requires further exploration as well. We suggest that attention to the presence of Asian Americans in the South demonstrates how multiple social differences (such as gender, ethnicity, and sexuality) as well as citizenship, nativism, and empire have continuously been constitutive of Asian American, Latino, White, and Black racial formations.

The Imagined South

One might ask where and what is the South. Scholars have debated over its meaning, its borders, its histories, its identity, its cultures, its distinction, and its role and location within the context of nation for over a century.11 The South takes on different meanings based on whether its definition is based on historical, social, or geopolitical parameters. Historically, it is often used to refer to those states that were slave states before 1860 now known as the Old South: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, as well as the territory of Oklahoma. Dixie is a nickname that is often associated with the states that seceded from the nation to form the Confederacy and refers to the states listed above minus Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. Dixie also is used interchangeably with the terms Old South, Deep South, and the Bible Belt to describe those states that are assumed to share some kind of cultural and religious similarities. The U.S. census designates the South as a geopolitical region that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.12

(p.4) We use the category of the South to signify a historical, cultural, and geopolitical space that is both understood to be a region of the United States and a space connected to and part of other transnational spaces such as the Atlantic world. More specifically, we recognize that the South is conceived as a coherent region and place as it is associated with a distinctive and authentic Southern culture and history. This history of slavery, war, Jim Crow segregation, and White supremacy leads to differences in political economy, social and cultural development, and racial projects. We point out that certain, but not all, spaces within this geographic region are associated with the legacies of Southern history and culture(s). This collection utilizes both understandings of the South as a geopolitical space in looking to specific places (e.g., Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas) and as a part of our national imaginary in looking to sociocultural discourses (e.g., Orientalist consumption, redneck humor, Black/White racial binary, and Christian normativity).

In the dominant American imaginary, “the South”13 is perceived to be an exceptional space within and to be temporally asynchronous with the nation. This regional difference is often understood through cultural, racial, and religious terms. The South is seen repeatedly as the primary site of American racial trauma and oppression. The region has been framed within narratives of distinction and exceptionalism so that the Old South of antebellum slavery, lynchings, and Jim Crow segregation is both romanticized for its quaint White Southern culture and demonized for its historical and explicit acts of racial violence that, supposedly, make it like no other region. These narratives inadvertently result in reifying the dominant paradigm of framing race only through the binary terms of Black and White while erasing the South’s exemplary experiences of race within the nation-state. The South’s “failure” to be modern and American is attributed to an individual Southerner’s own backwardness and inability to transcend her/his individual racisms specifically, and Southern culture more broadly. Furthermore, Christian hegemony is also strongly associated with the South. As we discuss below, the South is perceived to be more religious and oppressive than other regions; for example, the term Bible Belt is often used synonymously with the South in most discourses. By rendering the South as explicitly racist and hyper-Christian, these claims bolster non-Southern identities and spaces as postracial, secular, and modern in contrast.

The American religious metaphor of the Bible Belt, which associates evangelical Christianity with the South, is both a product of the region’s history and an oversimplification of it. There is, and has always been, more to the South than the Bible Belt and that term’s implicit assumption that White Protestantism had taken a different shape in the South. Even if the myth overstates the reality, religion does play a very significant role in the lives of Southern residents; data have shown not only that there are more churches in the South than in any other region of (p.5) the United States, but also that those churches are attended more frequently and by a greater proportion of the population.14

Among Southerners, more than a third (37 percent) are members of evangelical churches, and more than a tenth (11 percent) are affiliated with a historically Black church.15 Even more individuals than those who self-identify as “members” may nevertheless identify with the worship practices and cultural ideas expressed by those churches. Hence, organizational religious practice is strongly ingrained in the everyday practices of Southern culture. Charles Reagan Wilson uses the phrase Southern Civil Religion to describe “a common religion of the South which grew out of confederate defeat in the civil war” and that has an identifiable mythology, ritual, and organization.16 Wilson also asserts that Southern Civil Religion did not stand entirely separate from other Christian denominations.17 What Wilson identifies as Southern Civil Religion may be more directly named as Christian normativity in the South. Christianity is hegemonic within social and cultural practices across the South (and all of the United States); specifically, mainstream culture is dominated by evangelical Protestant churches and moral values.18 The normative presence of Christianity is encountered in the everyday lives of Southerners both past and present. Although the proportion of adults identifying as Christian is in decline in all regions of the United States, including the South, we nevertheless suggest that the normative power of White Protestant Christianity permeates Southern culture at many levels.19

Southern difference is often expressed through both temporal and spatial tropes. As Southern cultural difference is marked as the residue of the antebellum period, this association frequently locates the South in a temporal lag. Hence, these contemporary narratives of Southern exceptionalism also function to scapegoat the South as premodern, backward, and noncosmopolitan, thus the only region that has not transcended its history of racial oppression within the modern nation.20 Geographically, despite its long history of transnationalism through the Atlantic and the Caribbean, the South is assumed to be isolated, rather than transnational, and Southern culture to be insular, rather than transcultural. This is not to say that immigration to the South has historically been as substantial and vibrant as it was to other regions such as the Northeast, West Coast, or Texas and Southwest border areas. But because of its narrative of exceptionalism, the South is seen as removed from larger national and global processes such as late capitalism, migration, empire, transnationalism, and/or cosmopolitanism. Rather than locating the South as part of past and present global networks linking Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America to the United States, most constructions of the South emphasize its lack of transnational connectivity and globality. Hence, all Southerners, Black and White, are assumed to be noncos-mopolitan and nonmodern, while the region is taken to be disconnected from modern global processes. Despite its long-standing economic, political, social, (p.6) and cultural connections with Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the South is, nonetheless, associated with parochialism, isolationism, and xenophobia.21 In contrast to narratives that see the South as isolated, others have located the South as globally connected in the past and present.22

While the significance of Asian American migration has been mostly ignored in scholarship on the old and new South, the entry points of migration to the South via ports and border crossings create different geographies. For example, early Filipino migration to the South occurred through a geography foregrounding the oceanic circuits of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico and Texas borderlands, and the waterways of French Louisiana, while South Asian peddlers traversed port towns from New Orleans to Charleston and Savannah. Hence as scholars have indicated, the emergence and formation of Filipino communities in Louisiana, and other Asian communities elsewhere in the South, can help reorient Asian American studies and Southern Studies through alternative geographies and formations that integrate the South with the Atlantic, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the Filipino diaspora and Pacific world.23

Consequently, the trope of isolation coupled with the overemphasis on the Black/White binary buttresses notions of the South as a nativist and parochial space. Discussions of migration as well as Asian Americans and Latino Americans disappear from renderings of the South. It is precisely this overidentification with nativism that ensures the South an exceptional space within the American imaginary—one by which America’s progressive narrative of modernity can be measured and compared domestically. Of course, this idea of a nativist space in the American imaginary has much more to do with the ways in which the South needs to be understood as fixed within a premodern moment of isolation that is unlike other places within the nation than it does with any material, social, cultural, and historical realities.

Early Migration and Racial Formations within the Transnational South

If we begin with the premise that the South historically is a space of transnationalism, contact, intimacy, and presence rather than isolationism and absence, how might we understand the Asian American South differently? Race and immigration are certainly writ large in the contemporary South and Southwest; however, this volume suggests that we also rethink the historical narratives of the South that discuss it as a space untouched by globalization. It is interesting to note how this history of transnationalism is often erased in order to render the South isolated and provincial; the South as a global geopolitical space becomes abundantly clearer as scholars replace a paradigm of isolationism with that of transnationalism. It is necessary to understand Asian migration to the South (p.7) and its related spaces of the Caribbean, Latin American (including Mexico), and Atlantic worlds24 within its embedded context of the three major global forces that have shaped modernity: capitalism, colonialism, and nationalism.

If the African diaspora resulted from slavery, Asian migration is conjoined to this history as a source of “voluntary” labor that succeeded slave labor;25 hence, these histories are inextricably linked. Moreover, examining the multiple and cross-migrations that constitute Asian migrations through and between Asia, the Caribbean, Britain, and the South suggests that the racial formations of Asians in the South are formed within larger contexts than just those of the United States. Studies of Asian migrant communities in the Caribbean and Latin America by scholars, such as Walton Look Lai, Tan Chee-Beng, and Erika Lee, provide us with a means of understanding how the South is part of larger transnational formations, such as the Americas or the Atlantic world, and how these transnational processes form and impact racial formations and migrant communities. Studying the U.S. South, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Atlantic as a deeply connected space has been a steadily growing project within transnational history and cultural studies.

Asian migration to the South can be understood as indicative of the South’s connection to other spaces such as the Americas and Europe, rather than as a regional extension of Asian migration to California. Thus, discussions of Asian migration to the South can be placed in larger transnational historical movements in which South Asians travel the Atlantic world through Britain and other ports as peddlers and lascars,26 in which the sugar trade raises questions of racialized labor and slavery,27 and in which Asian migration leads to the formation and transformation of multiracial societies.28

Recent research on Asian racialized labor migration before, during, and after slavery reconsiders how (South Asian and Chinese) coolie migration is located within the global sugar economy, slavery, and American and British imperialisms. Scholars situate the figure of the coolie squarely at the center of national and transnational discourses about race, slavery, and migration in the age of emancipation.29 They suggest that prior to emancipation, the option of coolie migration was raised as an economic option to enhance America’s competitive edge in the sugar industry; arguing for coolies as a cheaper, more docile, and “more free” form of labor in relation to enslaved Africans, advocates of indentured labor from China posed coolies as a competitive and moral alternative to slavery. Consequently, Southern attitudes toward Asian migration have fluctuated with the changing status of slavery and labor needs in the South. In these debates, various parties conceived of coolies as a coerced or a voluntary form of labor. Coolies were repeatedly wedged into debates of slavery, freedom, and migration; generally, Chinese coolie migration to the South was discussed in relation to domestic debates about slavery and emancipation and in relation to international debates about (South Asian) coolies, (p.8) empire, and capitalism. Thus, focusing on the coolie is a way of foregrounding how Asian migrant and bonded labor is firmly located within modernity and the global forces of capitalism, colonialism, and nationalism.

Early on, with the exception of Californians and U.S. diplomats to China, no opponents were as vehemently anti-coolie as proslavery Southerners; citing examples from the British deployment of South Asian indentured labor within the Caribbean plantation system, they argued that Chinese indentured migration was worse than slavery and would threaten the Southern economy and the free American way of life through savagery, miscegenation, and the obfuscation of slavery.30 Through this scholarship, one can see how the political economy of empire and racialized labor migrations (African slavery and Asian indentured labor) are mutually constitutive within this context. By considering the racialization and migration of Chinese coolies in relation to discourses of slavery, for example, scholars make clear that the category of “immigrant” emerges in a dependent and vexed relationship with concepts of free/enslaved and White/Black. Prior to emancipation, it is the figural presence of the coolie, rather than demographic presence of Asian Americans, that is key to understanding these larger discourses of migration, slavery, freedom, and the nation-state in relation to the transnational space of the South. In this moment, coolies were located significantly between Black and White, between slavery and freedom—and were perhaps critical to the perceived line between them. Asian migrants played a significant role within the region linking the Caribbean, Latin American, and Atlantic worlds with the South; the side-by-side participation of Asian and African migrants in struggles for freedom continues to be a growing site of scholarly and activist exploration in these regions.

After emancipation, some Southerners looked to immigration, in addition to free African Americans, as a means of acquiring cheap labor to support primarily the agricultural economy. The Southern states also advocated for reversing the prohibitions within immigration law; for example, the governor of North Carolina in 1900 lobbied for the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act when cotton growers complained of labor shortages.31 A desire to reformulate a racialized underclass of subordinate laborers created a resurgence of interest in European and Asian migration to the South, this time, with greater Southern support. “Coolies represented a vexing anomaly whose contested status would reconstruct American identities after emancipation. Where would coolies fit in a race-obsessed society that no longer bounds Blacks to enslaved labor or allowed racial barriers to citizenship rights?”32 Coolie labor advocates whitened the figure of the coolie in order to render him a voluntary immigrant who was continued to be perceived as being dangerous to dissolving the line between colored and White. In 1867, sugar and cotton planters brought over one hundred Chinese laborers, some from Cuba, to Louisiana to work the plantations with emancipated African Americans. (p.9) 33 This resurgence of interest resulted in the migration of several hundred additional Chinese laborers to Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina toward the end of the nineteenth century in widely dispersed areas.34 Chinese did not necessarily seek to migrate to the South—“a destination that they dreaded even worse than Cuba or Peru.”35 These were not seen as successful ventures and Asian labor migration to the South ceased soon after this initial migration of laborers. Historians have long pointed out that most immigrants in the latter half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century went to places other than the South because of the expanding economic opportunities of the Northeast and Midwest and because of the inhospitality and nativism of the South. However, Chinese coolies were sought-after plantation labor; because they were a cheaper source of labor compared to Black slaves, there remained a lot of anxiety about their participation in the labor market. “Only ‘one power alone could conquer’ the ‘immorality of the Chinamen and Indians,’ but ‘these are the races of all others most difficult to convert to Christianity.’”36 One plantation owner is said to have remarked, “I believe they are completely destitute of moral principle. They are all heathens and won’t become Christians.”37 Consider the interplay of race and religion inherent in the owners’ viewpoint. Slaves, while Black, were seen as preferable to coolies because slaves converted to Christianity more readily. By contrast, there was a fear of coolies that did not exist about slaves—a fear that related back to their unwillingness to adopt their employers’ religious viewpoints. Non-Christians were less acceptable, and the only path to full acceptance (within the other, race-based social constraints of the time) was through conversion to Christianity. In summary, racism, xenophobia, and Protestant Christian supremacy continued to flourish despite a need for additional labor and the scarcity of immigrants in many Southern communities. While anti-immigration fervor targeted European and Asian migrants, religious and racial ideologies about the Oriental and Mongol races more strongly fortified anti-Asian immigration sentiment in the post–Civil War era.

The long-standing vitality of evangelical Protestantism as the cornerstone of Southern religious and civic culture can easily obscure an equally long-standing history of religious diversity. The region is, and has always been, a nexus of global flows of population and commerce, particularly with respect to trans-Atlantic trade. Different religions’ adherents migrated to the South in precolonial and colonial times. Thus, in addition to the spiritual traditions of the region’s indigenous Native Americans, it was home to the Protestant Christianity of northern European traders, the Catholicism of French migrants, the animist traditions of African and Caribbean migrants, and the Hinduism and Islam of South Asian sailors and traders. Scholars have often remarked upon the ways in which some of these practices have been integrated into various nondominant forms of Christianity.

(p.10) Afro-Asian South

Moving away from Whiteness, we consider the relationship between Asian Americans and African Americans in the South. As discussed earlier, Asian Americans have often been measured against, aligned with, and outside of Whiteness in many ways. Usually characterized as a subfield, Afro-Asian Studies pursues the multiple dimensions and modalities of the “encounters” between African Americans and Asian Americans; however, seldom has the South been specifically demarcated as a space for these numerous and strong interactions. This collection provides numerous examples of how the South has facilitated and been the space of such encounters.

The interactions between African Americans and Asian Americans were shaped by the broader national discourses of Orientalism and anti-Black racism. The specter of the coolie within debates about emancipation and slavery created anxieties about race, labor, and citizenship among Whites and African Americans. In arguing against Asian migration, both Whites and Blacks often posed the heathen aliens (Chinese and Hindoos) as unable to assimilate into America. In decrying segregation in the South in Plessy v. Ferguson and voicing the minority opinion, Supreme Court Justice John Harlan sought to name the injustice of segregation by contrasting the privileges denied to the African American with the supposedly inappropriate and undeserved privileges garnered by the Chinaman who could ride with the White citizen in the streetcar.38 Both Whites and Blacks employed an Orientalist difference to pose Blacks as more capable than Asians of inclusion into the nation and citizenship. Hence, some Black discourses of Orientalism defined and framed Blackness as more American in relation to Asian American religious and racial difference. Many different examples of African American deployments of Orientalism within Black discourses, popular periodicals, Christian and feminist discourses, and literary narratives have emerged as scholars seek to understand the mutual constitution and inextricable histories of Asianness and Blackness within Afro-Asian interactions; it is notable that many of these examples emerge from within the space of the South.

Many African Americans realized that policies and processes that oppress based on race, ethnicity, and religion could reflect or impact negatively their own attempts to claim rights; claims to assimilation and Christianity could most certainly backfire. Going beyond anti-Black racism and Orientalism, Afro-Asian studies suggests a more dynamic and heterogeneous discourse with multiple forms, politics, and modalities of Asian and African encounters in the South.39 Certain aspects of Afro-Asian studies emphasize the points of connection and solidarity as a counterdiscourse to these endeavors. Bill Mullen suggests that Afro-Orientalism is a “signifying discourse on race, nation, and global politics constituting a subtradition in indigenous U.S. writing on imperialism, colonialism, and the making of capitalist empire.”40 As a basis for cross-racial solidarities, (p.11) Afro-Asian can be “employed as an important site where a crude opposition between Blacks and Asians can be contested, where the parallel courses of Western imperialism through Asia and Africa can be explored, where the experiences of African Americans and Asian Americans as slaves and indentured servants in the Americas, respectively, can be compared, and where cross-racial, cross-ethnic, and trans-Pacific political solidarity that is not based on racial identification can be sought out.”41

Examples of Afro-Asian encounters can be found within past and contemporary Southern Black texts. In the novel Dark Princess (1928), W. E. B. DuBois links struggles against segregation with those against imperialism through the figure of an African American activist protagonist and an anti-imperialist Indian princess. As Desai discusses, the novel articulates DuBois’s complex internationalist, anti-imperialist, antiracist, Marxist politics focusing not only on the infamous color line between “darker peoples” and Whites in the United States and transnationally, but also on the racial hierarchies among people of color that impede political anti-imperialist solidarity.42 DuBois furthers his query of the role of the African American proletariat in the internationalist movement against capitalism in a vision that is not Afrocentric but is simultaneously national and international. To achieve this, Dark Princess explicitly ends in the South in an attempt to connect to the Africa and Asia it faces, searching continually for connection and inspiration between African diasporic and Asian liberation struggles. Desai posits Mira Nair’s film Mississippi Masala as a contemporary example of how recent migrations have led to similar narratives of Afro-Asian encounters.

Essays in this collection implicitly and explicitly further discussions through studies of past and contemporary Afro-Asian interactions. Historically, Bald addresses the relationships between Indian migrant peddlers and African American women in early-twentieth-century New Orleans, and Bow contemplates Asian American racial interstitiality within the Black/White binary in the mid–twentieth century. Within contemporary communities, Brandzel and Desai examine how Asianness is deployed as a mark of cosmopolitan inclusion in relation to African Americans at Virginia Tech; Vu locates the White supremacy and racism faced by Vietnamese Americans in relation to the racism experienced by African Americans in Houston; and Nguyen probes the Afro-Asian encounters between Vietnamese Americans and African Americans in post-Katrina New Orleans. We hope that this collection will encourage and engender other illustrations of Afro-Asian imaginings and solidarities between Asian Americans and African Americans in the South.

Immigration, Labor, and the State in the Twentieth Century

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the United States relied heavily on its history of dominance and colonialism of Mexico, in addition to its history (p.12) of slavery and Asian migration, to satisfy its labor demands within agricultural, railroad, and other industries. Hence, Asian and Latino racial formations are also bound together due to a shared legal, economic, and social status within histories of dominance and colonialism that constitute both Asia’s and Mexico’s relationship with the United States for the last two hundred years. During the nineteenth century, many Mexican laborers worked in places that had been recently colonized and had historically been part of Mexico as the United States seized land in California, the Southwest, and Texas. While usually considered in isolation from each other, it is abundantly apparent that Asian and Latino histories of migration, labor, racial ideologies, and state management are conjoined; specifically, it is often the case that they are racialized constitutively, meaning that racial ideologies often compare and contrast the groups, pitting them against each other and assigning values of desirability and belonging.

Latino and Asian labor and migration histories inform and shape each other through state management of labor, mobility, citizenship, and capital. As Asian migration and settlement became less attractive, the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 led to a dearth of migrant labor for building the railroads and the subsequent recruitment of Mexican workers by the railroad companies. Mexican migrants, unlike their Asian counterparts, were characterized by greater mobility between the United States and their country of origin. This mobility and flexibility was in part supported by the nation-state and capital, neither of whom sought Mexicans as citizens or permanent laborers. Asian and Latino immigration became increasingly linked, though differently managed, as the demand for cheap racialized labor expanded in the twentieth century. Hence, when the patrolling of the United States–Mexico border was established in 1904, it was not so much for the surveillance of Mexican migration, but the prevention of Chinese and other Asian laborers entering through Mexico. The border patrol is one example of a modern state technology for managing the migration of racialized populations across borders that was developed to target Asians and then extended to other racialized groups. In light of nativist and eugenic sentiments, new quota systems put into place by the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 continued to limit immigration based on nations of origin for Asian and European immigrants, but did not apply to Mexican migrants. Nevertheless, Mexican migrants were also subject to increased management and regulation through taxes, labor contracts, and literacy requirements. Policies and technologies of regulation denied permanent residency and citizenship to the vast majority of Mexican migrants, facilitating the state to control the flow of migration whenever the demands for labor increased and deporting or expelling migrants en masse when demands decreased. Such was the case of the Mexican Repatriation between 1929–1939 when nearly half a million Mexican workers were forced to repatriate. In contrast, the Bracero Program (1942–1964) marked the formal intensification of the state’s regulation and management of (p.13) the racialized (Mexican) migrant labor system as demands by agriculture and railroad industries increased due to war, Japanese internment, and other factors. The program expedited the mobility of Mexican migrant labor and return migration while preventing citizenship within the context of the rising nativism and White supremacy of this period. Nevertheless, facilitating exploitation and opportunity, this controversial guest worker program drew forth and focused the xenophobia and racism against transnational Mexican migrants while simultaneously providing labor to farms throughout California, Texas, and the Southwest as well as the South.

While Asian migrants had already been racialized as foreign and non-American, this period conjoins Latinos and Asians as foreign and unassimilable aliens within social and legal discourses, resulting in the formation and emergence of a new sociopolitical and legal subject—the illegal alien. “The racial formations of Asians and Mexicans in the 1920s were particularly significant because they modified a racial map of the nation that had been marked principally by the contours of White and Black and that had denoted race a sectional problem.”43 As scholars point out, this period demonstrated not only the establishment of new immigration policies and technologies by the state, but also a tremendous contestation about the meaning and metrics of race itself. While nativism, eugenics, and White supremacy thrived, the paradigm for defining and understanding race was repeatedly brought into question. Shifts in racial ideologies in which race was increasingly linked to body (physiognomy) and place (nation) produced new discourses and technologies for defining and identifying citizenship eligibility and racial classification for Asians, Mexicans, and other ethnic groups as we discuss below.

Reconsidering Race, Considering Whiteness

How were Asian Americans located in relation to Blacks and Whites during segregation? How did the racial codes account for a “third race” that was strongly associated with xenophobia and nativism? As Leslie Bow so poignantly points out, how can a binary system account for partial or different racializations? In this section, we discuss some critical moments in Asian, Black, and White racial and ethnic formations within the South; primarily, we turn to how race and ethnicity were decided and assigned legally for a variety of groups to better determine how Asian Americans were relationally read into race. Within the binary racial paradigm already described, the concepts and definitions of Whiteness and Blackness have changed over time (although it could be argued that certain fundamental tenets of the racial paradigm for Blackness, such as the idea that “one drop” of African blood made one Black, have not). We are not interested in simply inserting Asians into the Black/White binary, but questioning the binary and the ways that Asian Americans and others (such as Syrians and Jews) are racialized similarly and differently in relation to Whiteness and Blackness.

(p.14) Clearly, racial formations of Asian Americans in the South have changed as the broader racial ideologies have been transformed. Scholars (e.g., James Loewen, Susan Koshy, and Leslie Bow) interested in the racialization of Asian Americans in the South have turned, in part, to the Chinese Americans settled in Mississippi prior to 1965 to explore the processes of Asian racialization; several reach the conclusion that these Chinese Americans became White. Racial ideologies within the twentieth century underwent great transformations and legal disputes were a critical site where race was not just interpreted but produced and managed. These twentieth-century court cases demonstrate the mutability of racial ideologies as they articulated Whiteness in terms of biology and blood (grounded in science and pseudoscience) and then in popular perceptions of race (as defined by the “common man” and dominant culture). Shifting between cultural and biological definitions, racialist thinking deployed many differing ideas of race to further racial projects. It is illuminating to look more broadly at the legal debates about the meaning of Whiteness that provide the broader context for this one community. The phenomenon that allowed Asian Americans to go from Black to White within this Mississippi community requires that we examine how racialist thinking produced these categories legally during this time; one method for doing so is to attend how race and ethnicity were constructed in relation to Whiteness for other migrants.

It is important to note that the contours and characterizations of the racial category Asian, like Whiteness, have also changed over time. The answer to the question “Who is Asian?” is different today than during antebellum times. Indeed, the concept of “Asian”—a category of regional origin only used by the U.S. Census Bureau in the late twentieth century—may not have even existed in the nineteenth century, which was dominated by the racial formation of Oriental. Historically, Asian racialization has often fluctuated. Today Asian American is posed as a panethnic racial and political category that encompasses various ethnic groups who have been similarly racialized as Oriental. However, this is not to say that Chinese, Koreans, Indians, Pakistanis, and others, who can all be now categorized as Asian, are identically racialized. For example, even within the context of this collection, it is clear that East Asians such as the Chinese in Georgia and Mississippi (Bow and Bronstein) can be and have been racialized differently from the South Asians in New Orleans (Bald). These studies of earlier communities demonstrate the complexity of the racialization processes for many ethnic groups.

To understand the complexity of the racialization process during the twentieth century for Asian Americans including East Asians and South Asians, the situations of two other racially ambiguous groups—Syrians and Jews—are illustrative. Like South Asians, Syrians and Jews were seen as racially ambiguous: not Black, White or “mongoloid” (Oriental or East Asian), based on a visual inspection. At the same time, these groups carried the perception that their cultures were (p.15) inassimilable and “fundamentally at odds with the Southern Way of life.”44 Three court cases, each involving a dispute over the granting of citizenship to an individual (a legal process known as “naturalization”), each of which took place in the early twentieth century, demonstrate how skin color, geography, religion, and congressional intent were all factors in the racialization of Syrians in the South. In all three cases, Syrians petitioned the courts for citizenship. In order to become a U.S. citizen at the time, the applicant was required to be “White,” a term which was used but not defined in the Naturalization Act of 1790. In Georgia in 1909, Costa Najour was granted citizenship when a court concluded that Syrians were members of the “White race.”45 In making his case for naturalization, Najour relied on “scientific evidence” and asserted that there is a distinction between skin color and race. The court agreed, conveying the message that skin color did not matter if individuals “possessed personal qualifications deemed necessary for naturalization.”46 Importantly, Najour was a light-skinned man. A few years later in South Carolina, when Faras Shahid petitioned the federal court in that state for citizenship, color apparently did matter; Shahid was denied citizenship because of the darkness of his skin.47 In this case, the court ruled Syrians were not White, they had never been White, and that this was a matter of common knowledge.48 Thus, one could be both Asian and “White” under certain circumstances, and ascription of lightness increased the eligibility for citizenship while darkness decreased the likelihood.

George Dow was also a Syrian immigrant residing in South Carolina in the early twentieth century. His quest for citizenship highlights the combination of factors that led to the denial of his request. In 1914, Dow was refused citizenship because the judge disagreed with his argument that “scientific evidence” showed Syrians to be “Caucasians.”49 The judge denied Dow’s petition for naturalization, ruling “the applicant is not that particular free White person to whom the act of Congress has donated the privilege of citizenship in this country with its accompanying duties and responsibilities.” The outcome was unacceptable to many in the Syrian community, who raised funds to support Dow’s appeal of the lower court’s decision to the federal circuit court. And then on appeal, we see another set of factors impacting the racialization process. In Dow v. United States, 226 F. 145 (4th Cir. 1915), citing scientific evidence and congressional intent, the presiding judge held: “At the date of the new acts and amendments … it seems to be true beyond question that the generally received opinion was that the inhabitants of a portion of Asia, including Syria, were to be classed as White persons,” thereby overturning the lower court’s decision to deny George Dow’s application for U.S. citizenship. Dow gained citizenship as the Fourth Circuit court concluded Syrians were White because, at the time the law was passed, the Congress’s understanding of geography was such that individuals from a certain but unspecified “portion of Asia” were, in fact, “White persons.” Thus, whereas the lower court concluded that Dow was not the sort of person Congress meant to be “White,” the circuit (p.16) court reached the opposite conclusion. Clearly, this contradiction, within the scope of a single legal case, demonstrates that Syrians had little control over which racialization processes were in effect and impacted their shifting racial formations. Moreover, while citizenship afforded certain privileges, it did not protect against discrimination. In Georgia, Syrians like other groups such as Jews and African Americans were for many years even after George Dow won his case, the targets of the Ku Klux Klan, thus indicating how Syrians’ racial experiences occurred in multiple and often contradictory domains.

Juxtaposing the situation of the Syrians with those of Jews in the South shows how the combination of religion and geography further impacts the racialization process. Jews in the United States had always been entitled to citizenship. Syrians argued that they too were Semites, like the Jews, and therefore they should be considered citizens also. In the South, the idea of racial contamination had roots in religious difference. The judge, while granting citizenship to Najour, also stated in his opinion that “Najour, as a subject of the Muslim Ottoman Sultan, was incapable of understanding American institutions and government.”50 While the Jews were othered based on religion, there was another dimension to the racialization process—that of geography. Most of the Jews arriving to U.S. shores came from Europe; Syrians, even if Christians like Najour, did not. Such implicit and explicit unfavorable comparisons to Protestant Christianity were part of the racial othering process in which Orientalized Muslims were seen as incompatible with democracy, modernity, and citizenship within a White Christian nation.

For Jews in the South, anti-Semitism was predominantly based in religion and class; they were not seen as racially different, or subjected to legal segregation and social exclusion like Blacks. (One major exception was the lynching of Leo Frank, a young Jewish man, after he was convicted of murdering Mary Pheagin in 1913 in Atlanta.) Still, Jews did confront residential restriction, social isolation, and university quotas.51 Jews could be used as a scapegoat when convenient. For many Southerners, especially staunch segregationists, the Jewish presence was a “problem,” as they perceived Jews to be “White niggers” or of inferior blood who were diluting the White race by encouraging race mixing.52 Echoes of these ideations can also be seen in the experience of Asian Americans in the South. Asian Americans, like Jews, were not Black and therefore entitled to some of the privileges of Whiteness, but were nevertheless not quite White.

Juxtaposing the varied Syrian and Jewish experiences of racialization described above with the experiences of East Asians in the South further illustrates the multidimensionality of the racialization of Asian Americans, and how that racialization collided with the underlying Black/White paradigm. In the much discussed 1927 case of Gong Lum v. Rice,53 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that, as between the categories of White and “colored,” Chinese Americans were “colored.” When Gong Lum charged that his daughter was denied access and admission to schooling because of her race, he claimed that she was “Chinese” and (p.17) not colored or mixed blood. As there were no separate schools for “Mongolians,” he further argued that his daughter should be able to attend the White schools in preference to the “colored” schools. The Supreme Court denied this claim to Whiteness and affirmed segregation for Chinese Americans as colored. In the educational context of the time, that designation resulted in a denial of privileges enjoyed by Whites, and a grouping of the Chinese with Blacks.

James Loewen’s analysis of the Chinese Mississippi community proposes that the Chinese Americans generated a shift in racial formation and classification from ambiguously colored (1920s) to White (1960s) within the span of a few decades.54 The significance and simplicity of this explanation has been the site of interrogation by recent scholars, who have sought to trouble and complicate this story of racial assimilation and normalization. Despite Loewen’s claim that the Chinese “became White,” one can see other markers for the continued racialization of Asian Americans as racial Others past the middle of the twentieth century. For example, the famous Southern case of Loving v. Virginia, though not explicitly about Asian Americans, shows that in 1959 anxieties about racial mixing, miscegenation, and intermarriage still reference Asian Americans within discourses of Whiteness. The Lovings—Mildred, who was of Black and Native American ancestry and Richard, who was White—were charged with violating Virginia’s ban against interracial marriage. The trial judge who sentenced the Lovings to a year’s imprisonment for their crime of marrying, argued for the continued separation of races with these words: “Almighty God created the races White, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”55 Despite Loewen’s assertion that the Chinese in Mississippi are White, it is also apparent that in 1959, anxiety about racial mixing, miscegenation, and intermarriage continued to dominate discourses of Whiteness. In this formulation, Asianness exceeds and buttresses the Black/White binary in defining racial and ethnic formations in the South, and the concept of the “yellow” and “malay” people as non-Whites, would seem to contradict Loewen’s conclusion.

The legal cases discussed above are significant mile markers in twentiethcentury U.S. history, and particularly Southern history, because they demonstrate how racialization occurred through the legal system, and also impacted how Asian Americans experienced other economic, political, educational, religious, and cultural institutions. Clearly the dominant Black/White racial binary has affected the racialization of Asian Americans. Asian Americans have been seen as in-between, partially Black and White, mediating middlemen, third race, or as part of a racial triangulation. Though these various arguments take different positions on Asian American racialization, they all suggest that the racialization of Asian Americans is continuously (re)produced in relation to other racial formations such as Latino, Syrian, White, and Black. The essays within this volume (p.18) examine historical as well as contemporary Asian American racial formations in the South from a variety of perspectives to implicitly and explicitly highlight the ambiguous, complex, and changing racialization of Asian Americans. Scholars in this volume deploy various approaches to suggest no simple or singular historical racial formation of Asian Americans in the South. We propose that these disparate accounts relay the diverse and shifting racializations of Asian Americans in the South historically.

This volume continues the Asian American Studies project of telling a variety of Asian American stories: an Asian American interracial marriage story, an Asian American civil rights story, an Asian American violence story, an Asian American segregation story, an Asian American labor exploitation story, and an Asian American religious story. By doing so, we hope to demonstrate the complex and numerous ways that Asian American racialization is both intersectional and relational (with other groups such as Syrians, African Americans, Whites, etc.), thereby reading Asian Americans into race.

Emerging Communities

The long-standing presence of Asian Americans in the South is often overshadowed by discussions focusing on the recent migrations to the South. Changes in the Southern economy over the last decades of the twentieth century have made the region an “immigrant belt” for Asians and Latinos in unprecedented ways.56 Recent developments in the revitalization of the South’s industrial, agricultural, and technological economies have been preceded by transformative transnational and global processes.57 Asian and Latino migration to the South has been integral to these developments. Despite these transformations, there is no doubt that anti-immigration policies and practices are strongly entrenched in the South and Southwest—from the Minutemen vigilante border patrols to discriminatory laws and policies, there are many indications of nativism and resistance to Asian and Latino migration in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For example, though many Southern states later benefited from migration engendered by the pivotal 1965 Immigration Act, it was poorly supported by these same states. The Senate passed the act with a vote of 76 to 18, with all but two of the dissenting votes coming from Southern Senators.58 (This vote echoes earlier deliberations about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that garnered Southern support.) In examining the Congressional deliberations of the 1965 Immigration Act, it is clear that many Southern constituencies were opposed to lifting the immigration restrictions set forth in the Immigration Act of 1924. However, the overemphasis solely on isolationism and nativism poorly illuminates a more complex history of attitudes and perspectives on immigration within the South. Although nativist and anti-immigration activism and ideology have a long history in the South, political and social attitudes toward migration have fluctuated during the last few (p.19) centuries and should be considered in light of larger Southern interests in such systems as slavery, empire, and race as discussed earlier.

Anti-immigration racism, White supremacy, and nativism continue to thrive in the South; recent policies targeting migrants have proliferated nationally, and specifically, in the South. Modeled on the contemporary Arizona law SB 1070 that allows for the checking of immigration and citizenship status for racialized subjects by law enforcement officers, many other states—including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia—have proposed or passed similar legislation that requires proof of citizenship. This is not to say that only states in the South have proposed such measures, but that a large number of them are located here. Although many of these laws are perceived as targeting Latinos, Asian Americans must be considered as a target of such policies as well.59

Since the 1980s, Southern states have been the location of rapidly increasing Asian and Latino immigrant populations. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act again functioned as a method to prevent and criminalize undocumented labor migration. The Act unintentionally shifted previously established migration patterns geographically, deterring Californiacentric Mexican migration to more national dissemination, including the South. Furthermore, with its increase in state surveillance, heavily patrolled borders led to undocumented workers seeking longer and more permanent residencies rather than attempting frequent recrossings. Hence, the 1990s saw a great influx of Mexican (and Asian) migration to the South where agricultural, manufacturing and processing, and service labor were in high demand; within census counts alone, the Hispanic populations increased 200–400 percent within Southern states during this decade.60

More recently, the 2010 census61 clearly shows that some of the fastest-growing areas in the United States are located in the South. The top six states of growth—Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona—gained nearly a total of fifteen million people in the last decade and accounted for more than half of the overall increase during this time. These increases continue a trend from recent decades of migration to states in the South, Southwest, and West. While these numbers include all groups, not just Asians and Latinos, past analyses clearly indicate that much of this increase can be attributed to immigration from these two groups: by 1980 over 20 percent of the country’s foreign-born residents were in the South, and by 2000 the South was home to over one-quarter of U.S. immigrants.62 It is important to note that growth was concentrated in large metropolitan areas in the South. In a recent study, the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation—Houston, Atlanta, and Dallas–Fort Worth—had growth rates of approximately 25 percent which accounted for over 50 percent of the growth in Texas and Georgia.63

The significant increase in Asian migration to the United States spanning the latter half of the twentieth century (1950 and 2000), a thirtyfold increase, (p.20) reflects the changes in immigration policies during this time. By 2000, the Asian American population in the South increased 106 times, the highest among all regions.64 Since the 1960s, with the changes in immigration policy, the foreign-born population has quadrupled.65 Secondary and tertiary migration to the South from other states like California has also increased due to the draw of lower costs of living and greater economic opportunities.66 Between 2000–2010, the Asian American population in the South increased 43 percent, making Asian Americans the fastest-growing racial group in the nation with a total population of about fifteen million.67 Sakamoto et al. note in this volume that more Asian Americans now reside in Texas than in Hawaii, and in Atlanta than in San Francisco.

It is important to note that demographic studies often undercount vulnerable groups, such as unauthorized residents and undocumented migrants. Crossing borders without authorization, staying beyond authorized periods, or violating methods of legal entry can classify an individual as “illegally” entering or residing in the United States. Ironically, despite a long history of crossing borders without authorization in response to restrictive immigration laws, Asian migrants remain largely invisible within political and social discourses on illegal immigration. Though Asians constitute a smaller percentage of undocumented migrants than Mexicans (approximately 60 percent) and other Latinos (approximately 15 percent), migrants from the Philippines, India, Korea, and China, nevertheless, comprise nearly 10 percent of the total unauthorized immigrant population of the United States.68 Recent reports suggest that Asians, especially South Asians, continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in increasing numbers; with Indians accounting for nearly one third of non-Mexican unauthorized migrants detained in 2011.69

However, experiences of racism and class differences within Asian America continue to be erased so that Asian Americans are constituted as a model minority, pitting them not only against African Americans, but also against Latino Americans in contemporary American discourses. For example, a recent Pew Research Center study on “The Rise of Asian Americans” has the subtitle “Meet the New Immigrants: Asians Overtake Hispanics.” Playing on many discourses that evoke an Asian tide, model minority, tiger mom, and perpetually foreign, the online report rejuvenates multiple stereotypes. It is important to note that the Pew study proffers economic statistics and explanations that can be misleading—the study explains that Asian Americans have the highest incomes and most education because they “place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work, and career success.”70 Consequently, the media coverage of the report pits the figure of the Asian professional against that of the undocumented (“illegal”) Mexican. The report has drawn the ire and critique of Asian American Studies scholars and community activists who have noted its heavily biased presentation of information, (p.21) misleading framing, perpetuation of stereotypes, and fostering of interracial strife and competition. In their letter to the Pew Research Center, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Research Consortium emphasize that data for income has to be calibrated more precisely to acquire an accurate picture of Asian American wealth; for example, an adjustment for household size (per capita) and location shows that Asian Americans earn only seventy-one cents for every dollar for non-Hispanic Whites.71 Furthermore, such reports do not attend to the highly variable income distribution of Asian Americans wherein certain ethnic and refugee groups (including Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Laotian Americans) are much more economically vulnerable with significant rates of poverty that are sometimes higher than those of African Americans. (See Roy Vu and Margeurite Nguyen in this volume for in-depth analyses of Vietnamese American communities in the South.) It is imperative to delve more deeply into Asian American communities to identify and understand the significance of location, class, and economic differences, rather than presume homogeneity; otherwise, it becomes possible to foster ideologies that obliterate the interrelationships between racial groups (Asians and Latinos) and the differences within Asian America.

These documented and undocumented migrants have appreciably remade the landscape of the South with highly visible and vital communities in many rural, suburban, and urban spaces. As a consequence of these migrations, in towns, suburbs, and cities scattered throughout the South are Korean shopping centers, Vietnamese apartment complexes, Hindu temples and Islamic mosques, and Hmong farms. In motels and universities, restaurants and low-income housing, fishing villages and manicured suburbs, Asian Americans span the professional and class spectrum.

Religious Hegemonies

Contemporary migration of Asian immigrants has increased the vitality of religious diversity in the numerous emerging communities located in the South. Samuel S. Hill notes that this religious diversity contributes to “the dismantling of normative religious patterns and conditions.”72 Contemporary Asian American religious communities in the South face the challenge not only of establishing their own ethnoreligious communities, but also of doing so in the entrenched and sometimes hostile presence of Black and White Evangelical Christianity. Asian migrants have arrived in a place not only where Whiteness and Protestantism are normative, but also where they have functioned as an established part of a political and cultural power structure that for centuries has subjugated Blacks and oppressed and marginalized others.73 Since the Immigration Act of 1965, Asian American religious groups have developed strong communities within (p.22) the South. The entire Southern landscape is peppered with Buddhist and Hindu temples, as well as gurdwaras, mosques, and Korean churches. These houses of worship and others can be found in small and large towns alike.74 In some places, rapidly growing Asian Christian communities have achieved the “critical mass” necessary to break off from predominantly White host churches and establish their own separate houses of worship.75 Often, Asian American religious communities have had to establish and maintain themselves in this hostile terrain by creating and fortifying clearly demarcated ethnoreligious spaces, by exposing and guarding against the normative influence of Christianity, and by slowly adapting social and political structures to accommodate religious diversity and difference through legal, cultural, and media activism. In doing so, these communities have begun to expose and erode, if not dismantle, some of the dominance of White Protestant Christianity in the South.

Increasing decade after decade since 1965, Asian immigration is now impacting the traditional biracial order. The shape of that impact, and the nature of the changes that will result for mainstream Southern culture, largely remain to be seen. Will demographic changes, along with the influence of other social identities such as religion, lead to a loosely organized “triracial” order posited by Bonilla-Silva “white, honorary white, and the collective black?”76 Will Asian American Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim communities be accepted and be able to participate in the Southern cultural and political citizenship as much as Asian American Christians? In contemporary times, individuals who do not follow Christianity continue to be seen as potentially suspect, particularly in the political culture of the U.S. South.

In answering this question, it is important to consider the rise of Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina, and Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, Governor of Louisiana. The South’s only two governors of color, Haley and Jindal are both Indian Americans who converted to Christianity before starting their political careers. Haley was raised in a Sikh family and converted to the Methodist faith at age 24. Jindal, raised in a Hindu family, converted to Catholicism in high school. As candidates, and now in office, both frequently assert and make reference to their identity as Christians. Haley and Jindal are the first non-Whites elected governor of their respective states. Was it by “accepting Christ into their lives” that they made themselves acceptable to the South as political leaders? Put more simply, and more broadly, is religion a litmus test for full acceptance into Southern society? Is it a “secret handshake” that Asian Americans can master and “become White”? Or do their ethnic and racial identities cause consternation and are their conversions (Jindal) or “acceptance of Christ” (Haley) questioned just as they were with Indians and Chinese coolies over a century ago? Despite their political victories, will their authenticity and acceptability in Southern culture remain perpetually subject to challenge because of their racial and religious backgrounds?

(p.23) Asian American Studies and the South

We hope that these sections have made clear what can be gained by locating Asian Americans within the South. We would also like to consider what is gained by locating the South within Asian American studies. Scholars have long considered whether or not Asian American studies can be best addressed by a California-centric paradigm. In looking to the South, while California may function as an important point of reference for some (see Bronstein in this collection), it by no means provides the dominant paradigm. While there has been a move to consider the West Coast–centric orientation of Asian American studies by facilitating the rise of the “East of California” paradigm, the framing continues to provincialize and marginalize other sites and spaces within Asian American studies. As Stephen Sumida forcefully argues:

Working with evidence of Asian/Pacific American history and culture of the South and Midwest reveals certain limitations of a Californic paradigm…. The expression “East of California” itself both reinscribes and plays with notions of centrality of the West Coast in Asian American studies. By contrast, not boundedness but the vastness of the places to the east—as well as to the north, south, and west—of California in Asian American studies resists centralization. The seemingly scattered evidence of whatever concerns Asian American studies East of California—and all the better because it seems scattered—speaks of not one but many centers, many points of origin and departure, for narratives that constitute the field.77

In fact, the essays in this collection suggest various material and discursive conditions of emergence as well as numerous ports of entry and routes of migration. Although we want to ensure these sites and presences are located and noted on the map of the South and Asian America, in shifting to the South, we hope to do more than pepper the map with new “sightings” of Asian Americans or create a singular narrative about the South. Importantly, we seek to think about the significance of Asian American migration to, racial formations within, and community formations in the South as well as the epistemological and intellectual questions raised about the region and space. What we highlight here methodologically is not the addition of a different region to Asian America by deploying a cookie-cutter paradigm based on a California model, but rather a consideration of how the South as a transnational space raises its own questions, concerns, histories, and arguments for Asian American studies.

This multidisciplinary collection of essays highlights the presence and involvement of Asian Americans in the American South. We explore the intersections of racial formation, immigration, religion, gender, and community formation both past and present. And in doing so, we hope to illuminate the presence of different Asian groups in Southern U.S. history and show how their presence (p.24) and involvement in their communities are part of Southern life. From a variety of methodologies and approaches, the essays provide analyses of how Asian Americans are located in, adapting to, and transforming the South.78 The essays in this collection are grouped into three sections: Disrupting Race and Place; Community Formation and Profiles; and Performing Race, Region, and Nation.

In the first section “Disrupting Race and Place,” the essays offer divergent ways of understanding the racialization processes of Asian Americans in the South. In “Selling the East in the American South: Bengali Muslim Peddlers in New Orleans and Beyond, 1880–1920,” Vivek Bald’s insightful analysis presents the complex racializations and negotiations of South Asian sailors who jumped ship in Southern and Northeastern seaports and became entrepreneurs who traded ethnic notions within the larger cultural economy of Orientalism of the time. Leslie Bow’s previously published essay, “Racial Interstitiality and the Anxieties of the ‘Partly Colored’: Representations of Asians under Jim Crow” has revitalized the study of Asian Americans in the South as it critically intervenes in the debates about Asian Americans’ near-White status in popular and scholarly discourses; Bow provocatively forwards the idea of “racial interstitiality” as a method of reading the excess of racial formations within the context of the Black/White binary. Finally Amy Brandzel and Jigna Desai in “Racism without Recognition: Toward a Model of Asian American Racialization” turn to Seung-Hui Cho and the violence at Virginia Tech to critically interrogate Asian American masculinity and racial formations in relation to contemporary postracial discourses in the American South since 9/11.

The next section “Community Formation and Profiles” articulates how different Asian American groups remake the Southern landscape. Daniel Bronstein’s detailed and rich essay “Segregation, Exclusion, and the Chinese Communities in Georgia, 1880s-1940” examines the impact of various state apparatuses, including exclusion laws, on the little remarked but fascinating Chinese American merchant communities in Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah, Georgia. Based on the more-detailed 2000 census (rather than the 2010 census),79 Art Sakamoto, ChangHwan Kim, and Isao Takei in “Moving out of the Margins and into the Mainstream: The Demographics of Asian Americans in the New South” meticulously present the changing demographics and provocatively suggest the beginning of a new stage of Asian American history that is characterized by improved socioeconomic opportunities and a move away from the Asian American strongholds of Hawaii and California. Roy Vu’s engaging discussion in “Natives of a Ghost Country: The Vietnamese in Houston and Their Construction of a Postwar Community” identifies the significant factors impacting the emergence and establishment of the refugee Vietnamese American community in Houston, Texas. Khyati Joshi’s essay “Standing Up and Speaking Out: Hindu Americans and Christian Normativity in Metro Atlanta” explicitly and importantly focuses on the significance of (p.25) race, ethnicity, and religion by discussing the how and why a group of Hindus in Metro Atlanta came together to challenge Southern Christian normativity.

The final section focuses on “Performing Race, Region, and Nation.” Jennifer Ho’s capacious essay “Southern Eruptions in Asian American Narratives” attends to the eruptions of Asian American literature and film about the South as they disrupt multiple narratives about race relations and racial subjectivity. Jasmine Kar Tang in “A Tennessean in an Unlikely Package: The Stand-Up Comedy of Henry Cho” probes the comedy and figure of Southern and Asian American entertainer Henry Cho. Tang utilizes Bow’s framework of racial interstitiality (see this volume) to better locate Cho’s racial, classed, and gendered performances within the context of White Southern comedy and culture. Finally, Marguerite Nguyen in “Like We Lost Our Citizenship: Vietnamese Americans, African Americans, and Hurricane Katrina” examines newspapers and archival documents to understand how Afro-Asian relations in New Orleans East have shifted before and after Hurricane Katrina.

We hope this collection will soon be one of many that take immigration, transnationalism, and race as central to the study of the South. In the twenty-first century, the migrations of Asian Americans and Latino Americans to the South can no longer be ignored or marked as discrepancies. These improbable Southerners have already arrived and are radically remaking the landscape.

Notes

(1.) Recent articulations often refer to the region as the U.S. South (as opposed to the global South). Others distinguish between the Old South, Jim Crow South, Deep South, and the New South. We simplify our use to the “South” in order to encompass the broadest meaning of the term in the American imaginary.

(2.) In the South, both White Americans and African Americans often see Asian Americans as perpetually foreign. See Khyati Y. Joshi, New Roots in America’s Sacred Ground: Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Indian America (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2006), 95–96. For a more general discussion of how the “citizen” is opposed to the foreignness of the Asian American, see Lisa Lowe, “Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity,” Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996); and Mia Tuan, Forever Foreigners or Honorary Whites? The Asian Ethnic Experience Today (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2001).

(3.) For a brief discussion, see Carol Schmid, “Immigration and Asian and Hispanic Minorities in the New South: An Exploration of History, Attitudes, and Demographic Trends,” Sociological Spectrum 23 (2003).

(4.) One could similarly argue that the Latinoization of the Southern states is also un-noted for the most part. Recent collections that specifically address this topic include Heather A. Smith and Owen J. Furuseth, eds., Latinos in the New South: Transformations of Place (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, 2006); and Mary E. Odem and Elaine Lacy, eds., Latino Immigrants and the Transformation of the U.S. South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009).

(p.26) (5.) Philip Deloria’s Indians in Unexpected Places (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004) also provides a similar but distinct frame for understanding the perception that people of color are anomalies. Deloria examines how the juxtaposition of Native Americans with mise-en-scènes of modernity creates a disjuncture in the White imaginary. As American Indians are consistently relegated to a premodern era, representations that place them within modern spaces and technologies challenge assumptions about their spatial and temporal locality as reservation-based primitives. Thus, their unexpected locations cause anxiety within White America as they bring to the foreground the location of Native Americans within modernity. Our frame of discrepancy shares that sense of challenging assumptions that underlies Deloria’s argument. Unexpectedness emphasizes assumptions—what people imagine and assume. Discrepancy suggests discord and disagreement in a situation in which similarity or sameness is expected. We want to emphasize several different meanings enabled by the use of discrepancy: the perception that Asian Americans are a variation that deviates from the norm because they are out of place (closest to Deloria’s definition); the disagreements that underscore debates about Asian migration to the South; the divergence between common perception and historical evidence and presence; the perspective that Asian Americans are antithetical to the South; and the way that Asian Americans deviate from the binary of Black and White.

(6.) Filipinos were present in the South as early as 1765. Marina Espina, Filipinos in Louisiana (New Orleans: A. F. Laborde and Sons, 1988).

(7.) See R. Visram, Ayahs, Lascars and Princes: Indians in Britain 1700–1947 (London: Pluto, 1986); Robert Seto Quan, Lotus among the Magnolias: The Mississippi Chinese (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1982); Karen J. Leong et al., “Resilient History and the Rebuilding of a Community: The Vietnamese American Community in New Orleans East,” Journal of American History 94.3 (2007); and Pawan Dhingra, “The Possibility of Community: How Indian American Motel Owners Negotiate Competition and Solidarity,” Journal of Asian American Studies 12.3 (2009).

(8.) Of course there are notable exceptions. Lisa Lowe, “The Intimacies of Four Continents,” Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History, ed. Ann Laura Stoler (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006); and Moon-Ho Jung, Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) both interrogate how Asian migration via Chinese or Indian coolie migration was inextricably linked to discussions of slavery, modernity, and notions of America. Leslie Bow (in this volume) forcefully argues that Asian Americans were complexly racialized as Black and White in the Jim Crow South.

(9.) By presence, we mean several things including existence, influence, specter, and significance.

(10.) People often ask if the South is more racist than the rest of the United States. The claim of Southern exceptionalism, in our minds, mirrors the claim of U.S. exceptionalism. Here we seek to understand what is at stake in such claims to exceptionalism and distinction rather than foster or dispute such claims.

(11.) Rebecca Mark and Rebecca Vaughn, The South: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004).

(12.) See Sakamato, Kim, and Takei, chapter 5 in this volume.

(13.) Originally just called “the South,” then “the American South,” and most recently the “New South” and the “U.S. South.” These shifts indicate an increasing engagement (p.27) with placing “the South” in dialogue with broader discourses on globalization, political economy, and the “global South.” See Jon Smith and Deborah N. Cohn, Look Away!: The U.S. South in New World Studies, New Americanists (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004). These changing nominations also attempt to mark social and historical ruptures by creating temporal distinctions between the “Old South” and the “New South.” In this way, there is an attempt to temporally distance the South from its own historical past by asserting its transformation and “newness.”

(14.) Frank Newport, “Mississippians Go to Church the Most; Vermonters, Least,” State of the States (2011). http://www.gallup.com/poll/125999/mississippians-go-church-most-vermonters-least.aspx. Accessed April 10, 2011.

(15.) Similarly, of all the regions, the South has the smallest concentration of Catholics (16 percent) and unaffiliated people (13 percent). See “The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life,” US Religious Landscape Survey (Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center, 2008), 70.

(16.) Charles Reagan Wilson, “The Religion of the Lost Cause: Ritual and Organization of Southern Civil Religion, 1865–1920,” Religion and American Culture: A Reader, ed. David G. Hackett (Oxford, U.K.: Taylor and Francis Group, 2003), 207.

(17.) However, Robert Bellah asserts American civil religion was not seen as specifically sectarian or explicitly Christian (Robert Bellah, “Civil Religion in America,” Daedalus 96:1 (1967): 1–21).

(18.) See Joshi, chapter 7 in this volume.

(19.) Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, American Religious Identification Survey (Aris) 2008 (Hartford, Conn.: Trinity College, 2009).

(20.) For example, in contrast, one can see that the Midwest is perceived to be middle America, and thereby homogenously White, but not racist.

(21.) Additionally, such histories suggest much more a hemispheric, oceanic approach than one in which a region is isolated or taken merely in relation to other regions within the nation. Hence we attempt to link the local, the national, and the transnational through reading the Asian American South.

(22.) See Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993); Lisa Lowe, “The Intimacies of Four Continents”; and James L. Peacock, Grounded Globalism: How the U.S. South Embraces the World (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007).

(23.) For discussions of how Manilamen helped to forge multiple transoceanic connections around the world, see for example, Evelyn Hu-DeHart, “Latin America in Asia-Pacific Perspective,” What’s in a Rim? Critical Perspectives on the Pacific Region Idea, ed. Arif Dirlik (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1998), 251–282; “Asian American Studies as Global Studies,” paper presented at Re/Siting Asian American Studies: Connecting Critical Approaches in the Field, Rutgers University, February 19, 2010; Kale Bantigue Fajardo, Filipino Crosscurrents: Oceanographies of Seafaring, Masculinities, and Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011); Espina, Filipinos in Louisiana; and E. San Juan, “Configuring the Filipino Diaspora in the United States,” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 3:2 (1994): 117–133.

(24.) See, for example, Lisa Yun, The Coolie Speaks: Chinese Indentured Laborer and African Slaves in Cuba (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009).

(25.) See Susan Koshy, Introduction, Transnational South Asians: The Making of Neo-Diaspora (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

(p.28) (26.) See Visram’s Ayahs, Lascars and Princes.

(27.) See, for example, Walton Look Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar: Chinese and Indian Migrants to the British West Indies 1839–1919 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2004); and Walton Look Lai and Tan Chee-Beng, The Chinese in Latin America and the Caribbean (The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill, 2004).

(28.) See Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui, and Moises Sio Wong’s Our History Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution (Atlanta: Pathfinder Press, 2005); and Aisha Khan, Callaloo Nation: Metaphors of Race and Religious Identity among South Asians in Trinidad (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004).

(29.) Jung, Coolies and Cane; and Matthew P. Guterl, “After Slavery: Asian Labor, the American South, and the Age of Emancipation,” Journal of World History 14.2 (2003).

(30.) Jung, Coolies and Cane.

(31.) See Rowland T. Berthoff’s “Attitudes toward Immigration, 1865–1914,” Journal of Southern History 17.3 (August 1951): 331.

(32.) Jung, Coolies and Cane, 7.

(33.) See Lucy Cohen’s The Chinese in the Post–Civil War South: A People without History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984).

(34.) Obviously the South itself is not homogenous. Migration to various urban and rural venues created often vastly different experiences. For example, New Orleans as a trading port and entry point of migration is a confluence of varying and complex racial projects and racial formations due to French, Caribbean, Latin American, and Asian migration. This expansive racial code and structure accommodated multiple racial groups in comparison to those located in other spaces within the antebellum and postbellum South. See Guterl, “After Slavery,” 229.

(35.) Jung, Coolies and Cane, 120.

(36.) Ibid., 66.

(37.) Ibid., 68.

(38.) Ibid., 219.

(39.) Vijay Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001); and Bill Mullen, Afro Orientalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004).

(40.) Mullen, Afro Orientalism, xv.

(41.) Nami Kim, “Engaging Afro/black-Orientalism: A Proposal,” Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion 1:7 (2010): 6. http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Engaging-Afro-black-Orientalism.pdf. Accessed January 13, 2013.

(42.) Jigna Desai, Beyond Bollywood: The Cultural Politics of South Asian Diasporic Film (New York: Routledge, 2004).

(43.) Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005), 8.

(44.) Sarah Gualtieri, “Becoming ‘White’: Race, Religion and the Foundations of Syrian/Lebanese Ethnicity,” Journal of American Ethnic History 20.4 (2001): 32. See also Leonard Rogoff, “Is the Jew White? The Racial Place of the Southern Jew,” American Jewish History 85.3 (1997).

(45.) In re Najour, 174 F. 735 (N.D. Ga. 1909).

(46.) Gualtieri, “Becoming ‘White,’” 34.

(47.) Ibid.

(48.) Ex parte Shahid, 205 F. 812 (E.D.S.C. 1913).

(p.29) (49.) Ex Parte Dow, 211 F. 486 (E.D.S.C. 1914).

(50.) Gualtieri, “Becoming ‘White,’” 37.

(51.) Rogoff, “Is the Jew White?” 228.

(52.) Ibid., 227.

(53.) See Gong Lum v. Rice. Accessed July 1, 2009.

(54.) James W. Loewen, The Mississippi Chinese; Between Black and White, Harvard East Asian Series, 63 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971).

(55.) http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/loving.html. Accessed January 5, 2013. Additionally, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia are Southern states that had long-standing miscegenation laws for Asian Americans (and “Malays”) and Whites.

(56.) George E. Pozzetta, ed., The Immigrant Religious Experience (New York: Garland, 1991); and David Reimers, “Asian Immigrants in the South,” Globalization and the American South, eds. James Cobb and William Stueck (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005).

(57.) See Kathryn McKee and Annette Trefzer, “Global Contexts, Local Literatures: The New Southern Studies,” American Literature 78.4 (2006); Reimers, “Asian Immigrants in the South”; and Alfred Hornung, “Unstoppable Creolization: The Evolution of the South into a Transnational Cultural Space,” American Literature 78.4 (2006).

(58.) James Frank Hollifield, Immigrants, Markets, and States: The Political Economy of Postwar Europe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992).

(59.) The relationship between Latino and Asian American communities in the South is a prime topic for research. While we find this a significant topic that would engender fruitful conversations about race, immigration, and class in the new South, it is beyond the scope of this collection. Here, we modestly consider the significance of Asian American presence to the South. Importantly, many of the essays in the collection implicitly and explicitly locate Asian American racial formations in relation to the Black and White racial binary.

(60.) Raymond A. Mohl, “Globalization, Latinization, and the Nuevo New South,” Other Souths: Diversity and Difference in the U.S. South, Reconstruction to Present, ed. Pippa Holloway (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008), 413–414.

(61.) At the time of writing, more specific ethnic and racial information about Asian American populations in the South from the 2010 census had not been released.

(62.) Carl L. Bankston III, “Immigrants in the New South: An Introduction,” Sociological Spectrum 23.2 (2003).

(63.) U.S. Bureau of the Census, Estimates of the Resident Population by Race and Hispanic Origin for the United States and State, 2008 (Washington, D.C., 2009).

(64.) U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals by Race, 1790 to 1990, and by Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990, for the United States, Regions, Divisions, and States (Washington, D.C., 2002).

(66.) See Sakamoto et al., chapter 5 in this volume.

(67.) This discussion focuses on those reporting as single-race Asians on the census for 2010. We have not aggregated the increases due to multiracial-identified Asian Americans here.

(68.) Michael Hoefer, Nancy Rytina, and Bryan C. Baker, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2009.” Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics. (p.30) January 2010. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2009.pdf. Accessed September 5, 2012.

(69.) Ravi Kumar, “New Guys on the Border: Nepalis Join the Trek to America,” Global-Post. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120730/South-Asians-Nepali-immigrants-Latin-America-US-border?page=full. July 31, 2012. Accessed September 5, 2012.

(70.) Pew Research Center, “The Rise of Asian Americans,” June 19, 2012. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/06/19/the-rise-of-asian-americans. Accessed September 4, 2012.

(71.) Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Research Consortium, “Letter to Pew Research Center,” June 22, 2012. http://www.aapiprc.com/home-1/pressreleases/pewopenletter. Accessed September 4, 2012.

(72.) Samuel S. Hill, “Introduction,” Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts, eds. Corrie E. Norman and Donald S. Armentrout (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005), viii.

(73.) Indeed, some argue that the Civil Rights movement was a turning point for the South’s Catholic and Jewish communities as well because it allowed them to take a place in the Southern power structure by virtue of their shared opposition to Black equality. The Ku Klux Klan has targeted Catholics, Jews, Blacks, and immigrants historically.

(74.) See Pluralism Project, www.pluralism.org. Accessed January 5, 2013.

(75.) Raymond Brady Williams, Christian Pluralism in the United States: The Indian Immigrant Experience, Cambridge Studies in Religious Traditions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 9.

(76.) Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, “From Bi-Racial to Tri-Racial: Towards a New System of Racial Stratification in the USA,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 27.6 (2004).

(77.) S. H. Sumida, “East of California: Points of Origin in Asian American Studies,” Journal of Asian American Studies 1.1 (1998): 95–96.

(78.) Although this project is broadly conceived and inclusive, the collection is not and cannot be comprehensive. There are, of course, topics, ethnic communities, histories, and perspectives that remain outside of the scope and purview of this volume.

(79.) It is important to note that the “long-form” version of the census questionnaire, which requests socioeconomic information such as income and education, was not collected by the 2010 Census for the first time in many decades. There have been a few recent surveys since 2006 that have included these variables, but they are too small to appreciably change any of the reported results, especially for Asian Americans (Sakamoto in personal correspondence).

Notes:

(1.) Recent articulations often refer to the region as the U.S. South (as opposed to the global South). Others distinguish between the Old South, Jim Crow South, Deep South, and the New South. We simplify our use to the “South” in order to encompass the broadest meaning of the term in the American imaginary.

(2.) In the South, both White Americans and African Americans often see Asian Americans as perpetually foreign. See Khyati Y. Joshi, New Roots in America’s Sacred Ground: Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Indian America (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2006), 95–96. For a more general discussion of how the “citizen” is opposed to the foreignness of the Asian American, see Lisa Lowe, “Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity,” Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996); and Mia Tuan, Forever Foreigners or Honorary Whites? The Asian Ethnic Experience Today (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2001).

(3.) For a brief discussion, see Carol Schmid, “Immigration and Asian and Hispanic Minorities in the New South: An Exploration of History, Attitudes, and Demographic Trends,” Sociological Spectrum 23 (2003).

(4.) One could similarly argue that the Latinoization of the Southern states is also un-noted for the most part. Recent collections that specifically address this topic include Heather A. Smith and Owen J. Furuseth, eds., Latinos in the New South: Transformations of Place (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, 2006); and Mary E. Odem and Elaine Lacy, eds., Latino Immigrants and the Transformation of the U.S. South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009).

(p.26) (5.) Philip Deloria’s Indians in Unexpected Places (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004) also provides a similar but distinct frame for understanding the perception that people of color are anomalies. Deloria examines how the juxtaposition of Native Americans with mise-en-scènes of modernity creates a disjuncture in the White imaginary. As American Indians are consistently relegated to a premodern era, representations that place them within modern spaces and technologies challenge assumptions about their spatial and temporal locality as reservation-based primitives. Thus, their unexpected locations cause anxiety within White America as they bring to the foreground the location of Native Americans within modernity. Our frame of discrepancy shares that sense of challenging assumptions that underlies Deloria’s argument. Unexpectedness emphasizes assumptions—what people imagine and assume. Discrepancy suggests discord and disagreement in a situation in which similarity or sameness is expected. We want to emphasize several different meanings enabled by the use of discrepancy: the perception that Asian Americans are a variation that deviates from the norm because they are out of place (closest to Deloria’s definition); the disagreements that underscore debates about Asian migration to the South; the divergence between common perception and historical evidence and presence; the perspective that Asian Americans are antithetical to the South; and the way that Asian Americans deviate from the binary of Black and White.

(6.) Filipinos were present in the South as early as 1765. Marina Espina, Filipinos in Louisiana (New Orleans: A. F. Laborde and Sons, 1988).

(7.) See R. Visram, Ayahs, Lascars and Princes: Indians in Britain 1700–1947 (London: Pluto, 1986); Robert Seto Quan, Lotus among the Magnolias: The Mississippi Chinese (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1982); Karen J. Leong et al., “Resilient History and the Rebuilding of a Community: The Vietnamese American Community in New Orleans East,” Journal of American History 94.3 (2007); and Pawan Dhingra, “The Possibility of Community: How Indian American Motel Owners Negotiate Competition and Solidarity,” Journal of Asian American Studies 12.3 (2009).

(8.) Of course there are notable exceptions. Lisa Lowe, “The Intimacies of Four Continents,” Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History, ed. Ann Laura Stoler (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006); and Moon-Ho Jung, Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) both interrogate how Asian migration via Chinese or Indian coolie migration was inextricably linked to discussions of slavery, modernity, and notions of America. Leslie Bow (in this volume) forcefully argues that Asian Americans were complexly racialized as Black and White in the Jim Crow South.

(9.) By presence, we mean several things including existence, influence, specter, and significance.

(10.) People often ask if the South is more racist than the rest of the United States. The claim of Southern exceptionalism, in our minds, mirrors the claim of U.S. exceptionalism. Here we seek to understand what is at stake in such claims to exceptionalism and distinction rather than foster or dispute such claims.

(11.) Rebecca Mark and Rebecca Vaughn, The South: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004).

(12.) See Sakamato, Kim, and Takei, chapter 5 in this volume.

(13.) Originally just called “the South,” then “the American South,” and most recently the “New South” and the “U.S. South.” These shifts indicate an increasing engagement (p.27) with placing “the South” in dialogue with broader discourses on globalization, political economy, and the “global South.” See Jon Smith and Deborah N. Cohn, Look Away!: The U.S. South in New World Studies, New Americanists (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004). These changing nominations also attempt to mark social and historical ruptures by creating temporal distinctions between the “Old South” and the “New South.” In this way, there is an attempt to temporally distance the South from its own historical past by asserting its transformation and “newness.”

(14.) Frank Newport, “Mississippians Go to Church the Most; Vermonters, Least,” State of the States (2011). http://www.gallup.com/poll/125999/mississippians-go-church-most-vermonters-least.aspx. Accessed April 10, 2011.

(15.) Similarly, of all the regions, the South has the smallest concentration of Catholics (16 percent) and unaffiliated people (13 percent). See “The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life,” US Religious Landscape Survey (Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center, 2008), 70.

(16.) Charles Reagan Wilson, “The Religion of the Lost Cause: Ritual and Organization of Southern Civil Religion, 1865–1920,” Religion and American Culture: A Reader, ed. David G. Hackett (Oxford, U.K.: Taylor and Francis Group, 2003), 207.

(17.) However, Robert Bellah asserts American civil religion was not seen as specifically sectarian or explicitly Christian (Robert Bellah, “Civil Religion in America,” Daedalus 96:1 (1967): 1–21).

(18.) See Joshi, chapter 7 in this volume.

(19.) Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, American Religious Identification Survey (Aris) 2008 (Hartford, Conn.: Trinity College, 2009).

(20.) For example, in contrast, one can see that the Midwest is perceived to be middle America, and thereby homogenously White, but not racist.

(21.) Additionally, such histories suggest much more a hemispheric, oceanic approach than one in which a region is isolated or taken merely in relation to other regions within the nation. Hence we attempt to link the local, the national, and the transnational through reading the Asian American South.

(22.) See Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993); Lisa Lowe, “The Intimacies of Four Continents”; and James L. Peacock, Grounded Globalism: How the U.S. South Embraces the World (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007).

(23.) For discussions of how Manilamen helped to forge multiple transoceanic connections around the world, see for example, Evelyn Hu-DeHart, “Latin America in Asia-Pacific Perspective,” What’s in a Rim? Critical Perspectives on the Pacific Region Idea, ed. Arif Dirlik (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1998), 251–282; “Asian American Studies as Global Studies,” paper presented at Re/Siting Asian American Studies: Connecting Critical Approaches in the Field, Rutgers University, February 19, 2010; Kale Bantigue Fajardo, Filipino Crosscurrents: Oceanographies of Seafaring, Masculinities, and Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011); Espina, Filipinos in Louisiana; and E. San Juan, “Configuring the Filipino Diaspora in the United States,” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 3:2 (1994): 117–133.

(24.) See, for example, Lisa Yun, The Coolie Speaks: Chinese Indentured Laborer and African Slaves in Cuba (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009).

(25.) See Susan Koshy, Introduction, Transnational South Asians: The Making of Neo-Diaspora (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

(27.) See, for example, Walton Look Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar: Chinese and Indian Migrants to the British West Indies 1839–1919 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2004); and Walton Look Lai and Tan Chee-Beng, The Chinese in Latin America and the Caribbean (The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill, 2004).

(28.) See Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui, and Moises Sio Wong’s Our History Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution (Atlanta: Pathfinder Press, 2005); and Aisha Khan, Callaloo Nation: Metaphors of Race and Religious Identity among South Asians in Trinidad (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004).

(29.) Jung, Coolies and Cane; and Matthew P. Guterl, “After Slavery: Asian Labor, the American South, and the Age of Emancipation,” Journal of World History 14.2 (2003).

(31.) See Rowland T. Berthoff’s “Attitudes toward Immigration, 1865–1914,” Journal of Southern History 17.3 (August 1951): 331.

(33.) See Lucy Cohen’s The Chinese in the Post–Civil War South: A People without History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984).

(34.) Obviously the South itself is not homogenous. Migration to various urban and rural venues created often vastly different experiences. For example, New Orleans as a trading port and entry point of migration is a confluence of varying and complex racial projects and racial formations due to French, Caribbean, Latin American, and Asian migration. This expansive racial code and structure accommodated multiple racial groups in comparison to those located in other spaces within the antebellum and postbellum South. See Guterl, “After Slavery,” 229.

(36.) Ibid., 66.

(37.) Ibid., 68.

(38.) Ibid., 219.

(39.) Vijay Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001); and Bill Mullen, Afro Orientalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004).

(41.) Nami Kim, “Engaging Afro/black-Orientalism: A Proposal,” Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion 1:7 (2010): 6. http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Engaging-Afro-black-Orientalism.pdf. Accessed January 13, 2013.

(42.) Jigna Desai, Beyond Bollywood: The Cultural Politics of South Asian Diasporic Film (New York: Routledge, 2004).

(43.) Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005), 8.

(44.) Sarah Gualtieri, “Becoming ‘White’: Race, Religion and the Foundations of Syrian/Lebanese Ethnicity,” Journal of American Ethnic History 20.4 (2001): 32. See also Leonard Rogoff, “Is the Jew White? The Racial Place of the Southern Jew,” American Jewish History 85.3 (1997).

(45.) In re Najour, 174 F. 735 (N.D. Ga. 1909).

(48.) Ex parte Shahid, 205 F. 812 (E.D.S.C. 1913).

(p.29) (49.) Ex Parte Dow, 211 F. 486 (E.D.S.C. 1914).

(52.) Ibid., 227.

(53.) See Gong Lum v. Rice. Accessed July 1, 2009.

(54.) James W. Loewen, The Mississippi Chinese; Between Black and White, Harvard East Asian Series, 63 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971).

(55.) http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/loving.html. Accessed January 5, 2013. Additionally, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia are Southern states that had long-standing miscegenation laws for Asian Americans (and “Malays”) and Whites.

(56.) George E. Pozzetta, ed., The Immigrant Religious Experience (New York: Garland, 1991); and David Reimers, “Asian Immigrants in the South,” Globalization and the American South, eds. James Cobb and William Stueck (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005).

(57.) See Kathryn McKee and Annette Trefzer, “Global Contexts, Local Literatures: The New Southern Studies,” American Literature 78.4 (2006); Reimers, “Asian Immigrants in the South”; and Alfred Hornung, “Unstoppable Creolization: The Evolution of the South into a Transnational Cultural Space,” American Literature 78.4 (2006).

(58.) James Frank Hollifield, Immigrants, Markets, and States: The Political Economy of Postwar Europe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992).

(59.) The relationship between Latino and Asian American communities in the South is a prime topic for research. While we find this a significant topic that would engender fruitful conversations about race, immigration, and class in the new South, it is beyond the scope of this collection. Here, we modestly consider the significance of Asian American presence to the South. Importantly, many of the essays in the collection implicitly and explicitly locate Asian American racial formations in relation to the Black and White racial binary.

(60.) Raymond A. Mohl, “Globalization, Latinization, and the Nuevo New South,” Other Souths: Diversity and Difference in the U.S. South, Reconstruction to Present, ed. Pippa Holloway (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008), 413–414.

(61.) At the time of writing, more specific ethnic and racial information about Asian American populations in the South from the 2010 census had not been released.

(62.) Carl L. Bankston III, “Immigrants in the New South: An Introduction,” Sociological Spectrum 23.2 (2003).

(63.) U.S. Bureau of the Census, Estimates of the Resident Population by Race and Hispanic Origin for the United States and State, 2008 (Washington, D.C., 2009).

(64.) U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals by Race, 1790 to 1990, and by Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990, for the United States, Regions, Divisions, and States (Washington, D.C., 2002).

(67.) This discussion focuses on those reporting as single-race Asians on the census for 2010. We have not aggregated the increases due to multiracial-identified Asian Americans here.

(68.) Michael Hoefer, Nancy Rytina, and Bryan C. Baker, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2009.” Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics. (p.30) January 2010. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2009.pdf. Accessed September 5, 2012.

(69.) Ravi Kumar, “New Guys on the Border: Nepalis Join the Trek to America,” Global-Post. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120730/South-Asians-Nepali-immigrants-Latin-America-US-border?page=full. July 31, 2012. Accessed September 5, 2012.

(70.) Pew Research Center, “The Rise of Asian Americans,” June 19, 2012. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/06/19/the-rise-of-asian-americans. Accessed September 4, 2012.

(71.) Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Research Consortium, “Letter to Pew Research Center,” June 22, 2012. http://www.aapiprc.com/home-1/pressreleases/pewopenletter. Accessed September 4, 2012.

(72.) Samuel S. Hill, “Introduction,” Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts, eds. Corrie E. Norman and Donald S. Armentrout (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005), viii.

(73.) Indeed, some argue that the Civil Rights movement was a turning point for the South’s Catholic and Jewish communities as well because it allowed them to take a place in the Southern power structure by virtue of their shared opposition to Black equality. The Ku Klux Klan has targeted Catholics, Jews, Blacks, and immigrants historically.

(74.) See Pluralism Project, www.pluralism.org. Accessed January 5, 2013.

(75.) Raymond Brady Williams, Christian Pluralism in the United States: The Indian Immigrant Experience, Cambridge Studies in Religious Traditions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 9.

(76.) Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, “From Bi-Racial to Tri-Racial: Towards a New System of Racial Stratification in the USA,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 27.6 (2004).

(77.) S. H. Sumida, “East of California: Points of Origin in Asian American Studies,” Journal of Asian American Studies 1.1 (1998): 95–96.

(78.) Although this project is broadly conceived and inclusive, the collection is not and cannot be comprehensive. There are, of course, topics, ethnic communities, histories, and perspectives that remain outside of the scope and purview of this volume.

(79.) It is important to note that the “long-form” version of the census questionnaire, which requests socioeconomic information such as income and education, was not collected by the 2010 Census for the first time in many decades. There have been a few recent surveys since 2006 that have included these variables, but they are too small to appreciably change any of the reported results, especially for Asian Americans (Sakamoto in personal correspondence).