In Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American 'Oriental' (University of Illinois Press, 2018), Amy Sueyoshi argues that Americans did not always regard Chinese and Japanese in the U.S. as pan-ethnic “Orientals” in ways that are familiar to Asian Americans today. Rather, this conflation occurred against a backdrop of troubling stereotypes that enabled white Americans in turn-of-the-century San Francisco to explore changing ideas and practices of gender and sexuality. Sueyoshi uses a wide variety of sources including newspapers and magazines, morgue and court records, novels, plays, and oral history to reconstitute differing images of Chinese and Japanese American men and women, while at the same showing that their lives defied these misrepresentations. In this conversation, Sueyoshi shares insights from Discriminating Sex, and talks about her journey through academia and activism in pursuit of equity for queer Asian Americans both on and off the page.
Ian Shin is C3-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in the History Department at Bates College, where his teaching and research focus on the history of the U.S. in the world and Asian American history. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the politics of Chinese art collecting in the United States in the early 20th century. Ian welcomes listener questions and feedback at email@example.com.