In Two Faces of Exclusion: The Untold History of Anti-Asian Racism in the United States
(University of North Carolina Press, 2016), Lon Kurashige
emphasizes the contingencies that shaped the history of Asian restriction and exclusion in the United States from the 1840s to the 1980s. Two Faces of Exclusion
answers the question, posed by another scholar, of why Asian exclusion took so long to achieve and was so uneven if racism was so total and overwhelming. Kurashige proposes that we think about anti-Asian racism as the result of a “perfect storm” that required the convergence of several vulnerabilities—most important among them the inability of Asians to become U.S. citizens—with fears about political, economic, and social contamination by Asians. Contesting the ebbs and flows of this storm were two camps that Kurashige calls the “exclusionists” and the “egalitarians,” which themselves evolved over time. Like other recent cutting-edge scholarship in the field of Asian American history, Two Faces of Exclusion
follows these threads internationally and shows how American lives and careers abroad in many cases influenced their support for egalitarianism at home. Kurashige’s use of quantitative data about congressional roll call votes and precinct-level voting patterns will interest fans of historical methods, and adds fresh insights to a story that many may think they already know.