Course Overview

T/Th 11 – 12:15 @ LA-2203

Instructor: Amanda Solomon, PhD


Office hours: 9:30-10:30 T/Th and by appointment @ A&L 467


Course Description

Asian immigrants have been arriving in the Americas since before the United States was even established as a nation, and they’ve come from incredibly diverse backgrounds. From the Filipino seafarer who jumped ship and settled in New Orleans during the Mexico-Acapulco-Manila galleon trade to the Chinese sojourner who mined for gold in San Francisco to the Japanese picture bride who joined her husband on Hawaiian plantations, there has been a long history of Asian immigration that has shaped the make-up of the current Asian American community today. Moreover, while some Asian Americans can trace their roots back to the early 19th century, new Asian immigrants from white-collar Korean entrepreneurs to Southeast Asian political refugees continue to immigrate to the US to this day. Given such diversity, what does it even mean to be Asian American in contemporary US society? How has unity both been imposed and embraced by Asian Americans despite such differences in ethnicity, nationality, religion, class, gender, and sexuality? And how has this group labeled Asian American created a sense of identity and made their homes in the US?

This course reflects on the questions above, tracing the historical formation of Asian immigrant communities in the US and how these communities carve a space for themselves in contemporary US society.  Ultimately, the objectives of our course are: (a) to investigate how issues of capitalism and labor as well as colonialism and militarization create the conditions that affect Asian immigration; (b) to analyze how Asian Americans have cultivated a shared identity in order to act politically against racist marginalization; (c) to explore how Asian Americans use culture as a medium of resistance and a way to imagine home across nations; (c) to educate ourselves about and interact with local Asian immigrant communities in San Diego.

Course Requirements (All requirements must be completed to pass)

  • Attendance & Participation (10%):

This grade is determined by a student’s consistent attendance and lack of tardiness as well as participation in small and large group discussions and/or visits to office hours. Pop quizzes and in-class reading assignments may also count toward this grade. Failure to attend 60% of course meetings will result in automatic fail.

  • Critical Response Paper (15%)

At the end of Unit 1, students will reflect on the major readings in relation to the key themes and questions of the course. No outside research is necessary. Prompts will be made available but students can write on a question or topic of their own as long as papers demonstrate how students are synthesizing lecture and discussion with their own analysis of the readings. Papers are to be 3-4 pages long.

  • Community Event Reflection Paper (15%)

Students are required to attend any event in the San Diego community, either within or beyond the university, that engages with any of the populations, critical issues and cultural themes that we are studying. Students will write a reflection paper that describes the event and analyzes its relationship to the course. Papers are to be 3-4 pages long. All reflections are due by Thurs 11/12 but may be turned in before then. (Note : There is an opportunity to earn extra credit by attending and reflecting on more than the required amount of community events. Please ask instructor for further details.)

  • In-Class Midterm (30%)

Students will take a blue book, closed note, closed book, essay exam testing their knowledge of the texts and lectures from the first half of the course.

  • Final Exam (30%)

The final exam will be a blue book, closed note, closed book, essay exam testing students’ knowledge of the texts and lectures from the second half of the course. It will be designed to take the full time allotted.


Academic Integrity

“Cheating and plagiarism in connection with an academic program at the university may warrant two separate and distinct courses of disciplinary action that may be applied concurrently in response to a violation of this policy: academic sanctions, such as grade modifications; and punitive sanctions, such as probation, suspension, or expulsion” (SDSU University Policy).

It is the responsibility of the students to educate themselves about academic integrity and to understand what constitutes plagiarism and cheating. Violations of academic integrity will not be tolerated in this course and will result in automatic fail of the assignment, the course, and/or putative sanctions by the university.


Student Disability Services

Students who need accommodation of their disabilities should contact me privately, to discuss specific accommodations for which they have received authorization. If you need accommodation due to a disability, but you have not registered with Student Disability Services at (619) 594-6473 (Calpulli Center, Suite 3101), please do so before making an appointment to see me.


Required Texts (Available at SDSU bookstore)

Espiritu, Yen Le. Homebound: Filipino American Lives Across Cultures, Communities, and Countries. ISBN: 0520235274

thuy, le thi diem. The Gangster We Are All Looking For. ISBN: 0375700021

*All other readings and course materials are available as PDFs through course website



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