The myth of the frontier West found its home in America's late twentieth century suburbs, argues University of San Francisco associate professor James Zarsadiaz in Resisting Change in Suburbia: Asian Immigrants and Frontier Nostalgia in L.A. (U California Press, 2022). In the East San Gabriel Valley, that myth meant protecting the suburban concept of "country living" from specific types of development, including increased traffic density and Asian cultural influences. Yet, by the late 1990s, as Asian immigration to the valley increased, new Asian and Asian American homeowning residents also bought into that same frontier myth, who often partnered with their conservative white neighbors in resisting changes to their suburban developments. Zarsadiaz explains how Turnerian ideas about the West's meaning shape everything from architecture and landscaping to race and belonging in suburban America, not just in LA, but across the United States.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.