A Feeling of Belonging: Asian American Women's Public by Shirley Jennifer Lim

By Shirley Jennifer Lim

When we think the actions of Asian American girls within the mid-twentieth century, our first innovations usually are not of snowboarding, attractiveness pageants, journal examining, and sororities. but, Shirley Jennifer Lim argues, those are exactly the types of rest practices many moment new release chinese language, Filipina, and eastern American ladies engaged in in this time.

In A Feeling of Belonging, Lim highlights the cultural actions of younger, predominantly single Asian American ladies from 1930 to 1960. this era marks a very important generation—the first within which American-born Asians shaped a severe mass and started to make their presence felt within the usa. notwithstanding they have been wonderful from prior generations via their American citizenship, it used to be basically via those possible mundane ''American'' actions that they have been in a position to triumph over two-dimensional stereotypes of themselves as kimono-clad ''Orientals.''

Lim strains the varied ways that those younger ladies sought declare to cultural citizenship, exploring such issues because the nation's first Asian American sorority, Chi Alpha Delta; the cultural paintings of chinese language American actress Anna may well Wong; Asian American formative years tradition and wonder pageants; and the success of status of 3 foreign-born Asian girls within the overdue Fifties. by means of donning poodle skirts, going to the seashore, and generating magazines, she argues, they asserted not only their American-ness, yet their humanity: a sense of belonging.

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Extra info for A Feeling of Belonging: Asian American Women's Public Culture, 1930-1960

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The use of the word correct emphasized anxiety about propriety. ” Though the fashion show attendees would not realistically have different items of clothing for each occasion, the parade did instill the knowledge that time of day and type of event proscribed certain clothing choices. This type of event-specific knowledge would assist both prospective and active members of Chi Alpha Delta in picking the perfect outfit for occasions ranging from a rush dinner to a formal fundraising dance. The Chi Alpha Deltas were not unusual in their function as an organization that could initiate members into the dress and manners of bourgeois behavior.

On December 18, 1938, for example, for dinner they served each other rolls, meatloaf, potato chips, pickles, cake, and macaroni salad. 88 Yet, belying the notion that sororities were merely founded for “fun,” members discussed whether or not it was appropriate to announce marital engagements and celebrate them during meetings. Rush recruitment events were some of the most effective ways that the women of Chi Alpha Delta learned appropriate American social practices. Since their immigrant mothers were not necessarily well versed in American social norms, the sorors of Chi Alpha Delta turned to collegiate culture and each other for initiation.

What is particularly interesting is that the young women themselves generally did not know how to wear the kimono, and experts were hired to teach the young women how properly to attire themselves and how to walk while wearing one. 115 An action as seemingly trivial as choosing to dress in kimonos to serve tea to UCLA faculty members or to publicize Nisei Week can be interpreted as a sign of orientalness, a sign of exoticism, a sign of honoring ancestral culture, a means of educating the general public, a means of the women educating themselves, a way to claim class and cultural status, a way to play into the vogue for japonaiserie, a sign of femininity, and a way for these women to distinguish themselves from all other Asian ethnicities.

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