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Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America

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ISBN-13: 978-0195151275
ISBN-10: 0195151275
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Editorial Reviews


"The book challenges the reader to develop an expansive analysis of Asian Americans and their relation to race in the United States."--Educational Researcher

"A tour de force. Henry Yu takes us on a dazzling journey through twentieth-century social science and identity politics. There is something new and provocative on every page, from Yu's deep analysis of the construction of the "oriental" in Chicago School sociology to his finely-drawn biographical vignettes of famous intellectuals and little known immigrants. Thinking Orientals will find a place on a short shelf of absolutely indispensable books on the changing concept of race in American history."-Thomas J. Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania

"In this masterful and densely textured book, Henry Yu explores how American social scientists at the University of Chicago grappled with the 'Oriental problem' during the first half of the twentieth century. Offering rich insights on how theories of race and culture in American intellectual life were constructed, Thinking Orientals exposes the limitations of binary racial theories and offers us sophisticated ways of thinking about the complexity of contemporary race relations. This is an important book. It is one of the best intellectual histories of the concept of race I have read."-Ramón A. Gutiérrez, University of California, San Diego

"Elegantly written, keenly argued. Page after page, Thinking Orientals is aglitter with insights which will be important, not only for specialists in Asian American studies, but for anyone interested in the workings of 'race' on the American scene. Henry Yu brilliantly illuminates the mutual engagement of the social and the intellectual worlds-the power of ideas to disfigure the social landscape, and of existing social and institutional structures persistently to hem our thinking."-Matthew Frye Jacobson, Yale University

"Thinking Orientals is a brilliant synthesis of ethnic studies and intellectual history. Henry Yu's wonderfully cogent interpretation of the creation, racialization, and replication of the scholarly study of American 'Orientals' should be required reading for all scholars and students seeking to understand the intimate connections between race, culture, knowledge, and power in modern American history."-Peggy Pascoe, University of Oregon

"Stylish, rigorous, dramatic, and unpredictable, this book makes enormous contributions to American Studies, to Asian American Studies, to the sociology of race, and to cultural studies. More than almost any other recent work, it shows what is gained for intellectual history by taking a broadly cultural approach. Yu surely places social science within a broader and highly unequal world and situates the creativity of a fascinating group of intellectuals of color within sharp constraints."-David Roediger, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

About the Author

Henry Yu is Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, and the Principal of St. John's College, UBC. Previously he taught in the History Department and the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195151275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195151275
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,220,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Samuel C. on October 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
This was required reading for a race and ethnicity course I am currently taking. I have to say, I felt it was informative and interesting. Definitely a subject I was not familiar with, so I am open to any exposure. I am going to be reading Edward W. Said's Orientalism soon and I am curious to see how the two compare in terms of their accounts of one group defining another. Ultimately, I would like to use such accounts to see how issues in the Native American population might be better addressed. Are there ideas that Native scholars are missing, or are there ideas that Native scholars might be able to share with other groups? That's what I'm hoping to look into.

Also, I wouldn't take the other reviewer's comments too seriously. It sounds like more of a personal problem than one having to do with the book itself.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Moonmaedyn on August 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
Had to buy this for a course. It was dull and not really very informative. I believe the professor only added it as a text because the author was a friend of hers. Now I can't even get rid of it.
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