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A rich and compelling introduction to the history of Asian Pacific American communities as told through 101 objects, from a fortune cookie baking mold to the debut Ms. Marvel comic featuring Kamala Khan
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects invites readers to experience both well-known and untold stories through influential, controversial, and meaningful objects. Thematic chapters explore complex history and shared experiences: navigation, intersections, labor, innovation, belonging, tragedy, resistance and solidarity, community, service, memory, and joy.
The book features vibrant full-color illustrations of objects that embody and engage with Asian Pacific American issues, including the immigrant experience, the importance of media representation, what history gets officially documented vs. what does not, and so much more. Those objects include:
- Name tag for Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka
- Photograph of Hollywood actress Anna May Wong
- Hello Kitty bento box
- Stella Abrera's ballet shoes, pancaked to match her skin color
- Caravan’s Thailand: Songs for Life album
- Sewing kit of internment camp survivor May Ishimoto
- Nam June Paik's Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii
- The Devanagari typographical font patented by Hari Govind Govil
Asian Americans are the fastest growing group in the United States and include approximately 50 distinct ethnic groups, but their stories and experiences have often been sidelined or stereotyped. This spirited and beautifully illustrated book offers a vital window into the triumphs and tragedies, strength and ingenuity, and traditions and cultural identities of these communities. Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects is a crucial and celebratory read.
About the Author
THEODORE S. GONZALVES is curator of Asian Pacific American History at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. A Fulbright Scholar and past president of the Association for Asian American Studies with more than 30 years of teaching experience in the United States, Spain, and the Philippines, he is the author of Filipinos in Hawai'i and coeditor of Gossip, Sex, and The End of the World: Collected Works of Tongue In A Mood. The SMITHSONIAN ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN CENTER (APAC) was founded in 1997 to further the inclusion of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders across the Smithsonian’s collections, research, exhibitions, and programs. Having celebrated its twenty-fifth year in 2022, APAC is focused on building a national program supporting K–12 education and a dedicated gallery on the National Mall.
BOOKLIST, STARRED REVIEW
"Each story is designed to be specific, while drawing on the Asian American community as a whole. The color pictures and compelling text will keep readers browsing more stories and spending time exploring other objects in the book. [...] The book aims to entice readers to explore the history and challenges, at a human level, of the Asian American community in America."
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, STARRED REVIEW
"Objects are presented on a full-color spread with a photograph on one page and a short essay on the other. Some entries explain the cultural significance of the object, while some use the object as a springboard to a broader topic. The Smithsonian was founded with a mass collection of specimens brought back from a U.S. Naval expedition in the Pacific and Asia. A beautiful book that offers an intriguing introduction to many facets of the Asian Pacific American experience."
"This brilliant and beautiful book is a moving tribute to Asian Pacific American contributions, challenges, and triumphs. Vivid illustrations and insightful commentaries on the stunning objects introduce readers to the incredible diversity of Asian Pacific American experiences and their centrality in American history.” —Catherine Ceniza Choy, author of Asian American Histories of the United States
"Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects gathers the wide expanse of our boundless creativity and the evidence of hard-won survival. In these objects and the poignant meditations that accompany them, the ordinary and the magnificent, the tragic and the joyous, the intimate and the universal tell the powerful stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Feel the bold touch of our ancestors, trace the broad contours of how we are shaping the present, and see the signs of our shared future.” —Jeff Chang, author of Water Mirror Echo: Bruce Lee and the Making of Asian America
"History is more than just dates—it’s about being able to relate to our past. Asian Pacific American history, long underrepresented and undertaught, can be especially hard to bring to life. Luckily, Theodore Gonzalves has given us a monumental gift in Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects that uses the vast Smithsonian collections to animate our stories.”
—Hari Kondabolu, comedian and writer