This month, in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the DePaul University Library highlights a few new publications from Asian American voices. Explore Asian American lives and experiences through art, fiction, memoir and history:
View thirty-six works created by Filipino American artist Carlos Villa (1936-2013) in the expansive exhibition catalog Worlds in Collision. Born and raised in San Francisco, Villa also studied and taught at the San Francisco Art Institute. His work incorporates cultural motifs and materials reflective of non-Western perspectives and his own identity as a man of Filipino descent. This book showcases mixed media works ranging from paintings to sculpture, tattoo and painted cloaks, alongside essays and commentary exploring the artist’s work and enduring influence on contemporary Asian American art.
Drawing on declassified documents, Brian Masaru Hayashi reveals the role of Korean, Japanese and Chinese Americans working in US intelligence during World War II in Asian American Spies: How Asian Americans Helped Win the Allied Victory. While Asian Americans were subjected to racism and forced internment, the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA) recruited agents of Asian decent for vital roles from linguists to espionage, cultural experts, and informants. He further examines the intersection of race and loyalty for Asian American agents during their service and the war crimes investigations that followed.
Published posthumously, Anthony Veasna So’s (1992-2020) collection of short stories, Afterparties, explores Cambodian life in California, where tens of thousands of refugees settled between 1975 and 1990 to escape genocide under the Khmer Rouge. Identity, belonging, and generational trauma are recurring themes in these funny, deeply personal stories reflective of Cambodian American and queer communities.
As a young child, Grace M. Cho moved from Korea to rural Washington with her Korean mother and white Merchant Marine father. Tastes Like War: A Memoir is a tribute to her relationship with her mother, who experienced the onset of schizophrenia during Cho’s teen years, and the ways that cooking together and sharing food allowed her to access her family’s history. Cho draws on her academic background as a sociologist to investigate the trauma her mother experienced in Korea and as an immigrant in rural America and how these experiences contribute to mental illness.
In The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics, prize-winning historian Mae Ngai traces the Chinese diaspora to the goldfields of California, Australia and South Africa. The “Chinese Question” refers to discourse in the US and elsewhere over the racial threat Chinese communities posed to “white men’s countries” and the creation of laws that excluded Chinese people from immigration and citizenship. She examines the associations and organizations they formed in the face of violence, harassment and inequality and the ways Chinese communities acted as agents of change in global politics and economics.