Asian Americans and Politics: Perspectives, Experiences, Prospects

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Asian Americans have quite recently emerged as an increasingly important force in American politics. In 1996, more than 300 Asian and Pacific Americans were elected to federal, state, and local offices; today, more than 2,000 hold appointive positions in government. Asian American voices have been prominent in policy debates over such matters as education, race relations, and immigration reform. On a more discordant note, a national controversy with racial overtones erupted in 1996-97 over alleged illegal Asian and Asian American campaign contributions and illicit foreign influences on American politics, and in 1999 another controversy arose over allegations that a Chinese American physicist had passed nuclear secrets to the Chinese government. Yet little scholarly attention has been devoted to understanding the engagement of Asian Americans with American politics. This volume of fifteen essays is the first to take a broad-ranging look at the phenomenon. Its contributors are drawn from a variety of disciplines-history, political science, sociology, and urban studies-and from the practical political realm. They discuss such topics as the historical relationship of Asians to American politics, the position of Asian Americans in America's legal and racial landscape, recent Asian American voting behavior and political opinion, politics and the evolving demographics of the Asian American population, current national controversies involving Asian Americans, conclusions drawn from regional and local case studies, and the future of Asian Americans in American politics.