Asian American and Pacific Islander Movements






Photo copyright © by Nikki Arai. Asian Ameriican radical activists speaking at International Women's Day rally in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1971.






The Asian American movement of the 1960s and '70s, like the other major civil rights/ethnic power struggles of the era, forever changed Asian American life in the US. The movement also had important internationalist alliances with figures in Asian and other Third World countries. As with the other major struggles of the 1960s, the movement became less visible and often less confrontational in later decades, but a wide range of community-based organizations have continued to fight for the rights of various groups collectively termed Asian American in a US context. New waves of Asian immigrants (the second largest immigrant bloc after Latinos in recent years) also have brought forth new exploitation and discrimination, and therefore new waves of activism.

Some Key Organizations and Activist Sites

Cultural Resources: Literature, Music and Visual Culture

Books and Articles on the Movement

Espiritu, Yen. Asian American Pan-Ethncity. Philadelphia: Temple U Press, 1993. Sophisticated study of the difficulties and successes of organizing across various Asian identities in the US.

Ho, Fred. ed. Legacy to Liberation: Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian/Pacific America. San Francisco: AK Press, 2001. Rich anthology of movement documents.

Michael Liu, Kim Geron, and Tracy Lai.The Snake Dance of Asian American Activism: Community, Vision, and Power. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. 2008. Traces movement from 1930s to 1990s to historicize and contextualize ongoing activism.

Louie, Steve, ed. Asian Americans: The Movement and the Moment. LA: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 2001. Collection of important cultural and political texts from the movement.

Maeda, Daryl. Chains of Babylon The Rise of Asian America. Minneapolis: U Minnesota, Press, 2009. Innovative book on the Asian American movements.

Pulido, Laura. Black, Brown, Yellow, and Left: Radical Activism in Los Angeles. Berkeley: U California Press, 2006. Includes much on Asian American activism and coalition building.

Vo, Linda Trinh. Mobilizing an Asian American Community. Philadelphia: Temple U Press, 2004. Excellent, sophisticated but accessible study of interethnic Asian American organizing.

Wei, William. The Asian American Movement. Philadelphia: Temple U Press, 1993. Interpetively weak, but with some useful history.

Yamashita, Karen Tei. I Hotel. San Francisco: Coffee House Press, 2010. Typically brilliant postmodern novel set in the Asian American movement era in San Francisco.

Research Institutes, Programs, and Libraries