U.S. national mythology

1.One of the fundamental principles of U.S. national mythology is that it is a “nation of immigrants.” In many ways, the “nation of immigrants” narrative is really about assimilation and citizenship. Does the experience of Asian Americans reinforce or challenge this narrative? In what ways is race implicated in the debate? Using political, cultural, and legal examples, your answer should make a clear argument about which position you find most compelling.

2.In his “Empire” entry in Keywords, the historian Moon-Ho Jung argues that the discourse of American exceptionalism relies on the purposeful repudiation or denial of the role of colonialism and imperialism in the nation’s growth and expansion in the 19th and 20th centuries. Colonialism and imperialism, according to this argument, describe the practices of “Old World” Europe but are antithetical to American modernity and its democratic values. Do the histories of migration from China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, Hawaii, and the Philippines in the late-19th and early- 20th centuries support this claim? What happens to these foundational myths—American exceptionalism, “nation of immigrants”—if we use “Empire” as our animating framework? Are “Empire” and the nation’s narratives of liberal democracy compatible?

3.The sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant (Keywords entry on “Race) introduced “racial formation” as a concept to describe the contested processes through which ideas about race are made and remade. In your essay, describe the specific racialization of Asian Americans between the 1840s and today. What are the principle ideas at the center of Asian American racialization? Using historical, legal, political, and cultural examples, your answer should make an argument about the specific racial formation of Asian Americans.

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