Abstract: Special Issue on Asian Americans in Global Cities

Abstracts for Special Issue on Asian Americans in Global Cities: Los Angeles – New York Connections and Comparisons, Volume 10, Number 2 Fall 2012

Message from the Editors

Asian Americans in Global Cities: Los Angeles – New York Connections and Comparisons
By: Paul M. Ong and Tarry Hum

Abstract:  This special AAPI Nexus issue examines Asian American experiences in global cities through comparative studies of Los Angeles and New York. The demographic facts are astonishing—more than a quarter of the sixteen million Asian Americans reside in either of the two greater metropolises where they comprise more than a tenth of the total population in each region. Consequently, it is difficult to fully understand and appreciate Asian American experiences without studying these two global cities. The comparative approach offers great analytical potential because it can generate insights into what phenomena transcend regions and patterns that are produced by factors and forces common to Asian Americans regardless of location and fundamental global-city processes. The comparative approach can also identify phenomena that are unique to each region, such as the outcomes of specific local and regional structures and dynamics.

A Tale of Two Global Cities: The State of Asian Americans in Los Angeles and New York
By: Howard Shih and Melany De La Cruz-Viesca

Abstract:  At the national level, the Asian American population has grown more than any other major race group. According to the 2010 Census, the Los Angeles metro area had 2,199,186 Asians, making it the home to the largest Asian population in the United States. Following close behind was the New York City metro area with 2,008,906 Asians. Over a quarter of the 14.7 million Asian Americans reside in either of the two greater metropolitan regions, where they comprise around a tenth of the total population in each metropolis. We begin with a brief historical overview of immigration legislation that has both invited and excluded Asian Americans, as a means of understanding how Asian Americans have been perceived over time. We will also compare some key characteristics of Asian American populations in Los Angeles County, New York City, the Balance of LA Combined Statistical Area (CSA) (excluding Los Angeles County), and the Balance of NYC CSA (excluding New York City), and the Balance of the United States. The paper will cover: (1) demographic trends and patterns (2) economic status (3) political engagement and incorporation, and (4) residential settlement patterns. We close with a discussion of how these demographic changes have contributed to Asian Americans rapid social, economic, and political upward mobility in the last decade, at a time when the global restructuring of the economy has blurred nation-state boundaries that once existed and migration from Asia to the United States has become more complex, particularly over the past two decades.

Cultivating a Cultural Home Space: The Case of Little Tokyo’s Budokan of Los Angeles Project
By: Susan Nakaoka

Abstract:  Little Tokyo is a unique case exemplifying the evolving nature of community economic development in Los Angeles. In-depth interviews with key community leaders identify the need for the importance of a place-specific, contextually relevant development approach in order to maintain an ethnic presence in the neighborhood. Faced with new threats of gentrification, the complications of a global economy, and a new phase of transit-oriented development, community members are banking on a multi-sports complex in Little Tokyo to rejuvenate a sense of cultural home space for the now geographically dispersed Japanese Americans.

This Is Part of Our History: Preserving Garment Manufacturing and a Sense of Home in Manhattan’s Chinatown
By: Lena Sze

Abstract:  This article explores attempts by labor and community advocates to retain a garment industry base in Manhattan’s Chinatown after 9/11. Specifically tying the viability of such proposals to ongoing processes such as gentrification, transnational capital investment, local development, and broader anti-manufacturing urban policy, I argue that strategies for appropriate and sensitive community development that are rooted in sectoral preservation or development need to take into account the specificities of place, class, and ethnicity. In particular, the concept of a valued cultural or home space adds urgency to the advocacy of such proposals beyond the generic economic rationale of manufacturing retention.

New Dimensions of Self-Employment among Asian Americans in Los Angeles and New York
By: C. N. Le

Abstract:  This article uses census data from the 2006–08 American Community Survey to illustrate the range of Asian American entrepreneurial activities in the Los Angeles and the New York City areas and finds that Los Angeles self-employment is characterized by emerging high-skill “professional service” industries while New York continues to be dominated by low-skill traditional “enclave-associated” niches. Within these patterns, there are also notable interethnic and generational differences. I discuss their socioeconomic implications and policy recommendations to facilitate a gradual shift of Asian American entrepreneurship toward more professional service activities that reflect the demographic evolution of the Asian American community and the ongoing dynamics of globalization.

We Make the Spring Rolls, They Make Their Own Rules: Filipina Domestic Workers’ Fight for Labor Rights in New York City and Los Angeles
By: Ariella Rotramel

Abstract:  This article provides a multidimensional examination of Filipina domestic workers’ efforts to promote workers’ rights nationally and globally. Through their own experiences as transnational workers, Filipina activists were able to translate their knowledge of labor dynamics into practical and effective tactics such as the demand for labor contracts as an industry standard. Combining ethnographic research and interviews conducted with New York–based Filipina domestic worker activists with primary and secondary sources from Los Angeles, recent advocacy work in New York is compared with efforts in Los Angeles and California more broadly. Key points of comparison—demographics and organizing histories, geography and usage of public space, and political contexts and legislation—illuminate significant divergences and continuities between the two regions.

Community-based? Asian American Students, Parents, and Teachers in the Shifting Chinatowns of New York and Los Angeles
By: Benji Chang and Juhyung Harold Lee

Abstract:  This article examines the experiences of children, parents, and teachers in the New York and Los Angeles Chinatown public schools, as observed by two classroom educators, one based in each city. The authors document trends among the transnational East and Southeast Asian families that comprise the majority in the local Chinatown schools and discuss some of the key intersections of communities and identities within those schools, as well as the pedagogies that try to build upon these intersections in the name of student empowerment and a more holistic vision of student achievement. Ultimately, this article seeks to bring forth the unique perspectives of Chinatown community members and explore how students, families, teachers, school staff and administrators, and community organizers can collaborate to actualize a more transformative public education experience.

“Asian Latinos” and the U.S. Census
By: Robert Chao Romero and Kevin Escudero

Abstract:  Numbering more than 300,000, “Asian Latinos” are a large but overlooked segment of the Asian American and Latino populations of the United States. Drawing from data generated from the 5 percent Public Use Microdata Samples of the 2000 U.S. Census, this article provides a preliminary quantitative analysis of the Asian Latino community. In particular, it examines the demographic characteristics of population size, geographic distribution, national origin, gender, age, citizenship, and educational attainment. In addition, it examines several policy implications related to Asian Latino coalition building and undocumented immigrant advocacy.