Historical Perspectives on Diverse Asian American Communities: Immigration, Incorporation, and Education
by Susan J. Paik, Stacy M. Kula, L. Erika Saito, Zaynah Rahman & Matthew A. Witenstein - 2014
Background/Context: Asian Americans have recently been reported as the largest incoming immigrant population and the fastest growing racial group. Diverse in culture, tradition, language, and history, they have unique immigrant stories both before and after the Immigration Act in 1965. Historians, sociologists, educators, and other experts inform us that immigrant arrival into a new country has long-standing effects for any cultural group, but there is limited research that collectively and systematically examines historical immigrant experiences, particularly for diverse Asian American populations.
Purpose: The purpose of this analytic study is to provide a survey of the historical context experienced by diverse Asian American groups and to link these variations to their current educational outcomes. Based on an adapted model of incorporation, the article analyzes the historical experiences into a taxonomy to understand past and present trends. The research question under consideration is: “How do historical experiences of diverse Asian American immigrant populations link to their current educational outcomes?”
Research Design: The study design employed a historical analysis based on a taxonomy, which helps classify and systematically organize information to understand patterns and themes. To apply the adapted model across the subgroups of East Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian major groups, the authors gathered, reviewed, and systematically organized over 100 sources (e.g., literature review, census data, websites, other historical information, etc.).
Findings/Results: The findings illustrate the diversity that exists within and between Asian American groups in terms of their immigration, incorporation, and educational experiences. The modes of incorporation, as well as additional barriers and opportunities, varied across all Asian American communities. There is further need to disaggregate data as some groups experienced more barriers than opportunities and continue to struggle in the United States.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Historical contexts can help inform educators, policy makers, and researchers on ways to support Asian American students and their families. In understanding upward mobility, the nature of co-ethnic communities also played a role for the success of some groups. This study challenges the model minority stereotype by discussing the diversity that exists within and between Asian American groups and reveals how key stakeholders can work together to support positive opportunity structures and partnerships.
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