October 23 2018

by Jonathan H. X. Lee, San Francisco State University

A white truck in a middle of a parade carries a yellow sign in its bed that reads "Sikh Society of Madison WI." Two American flags are on each side of the sign. A Sikh man wearing a dastar (turban) walks next to the truck and waves to the crowd

According to the 2012 (revised and updated in 2013) Pew Research Center report, “The Rise of Asian Americans,” Asian Americans are the “fastest-growing racial group in the United States."* Asian American religions and religiosities can be taught as stand-alone courses or as a part of other courses such as World Religions, Transnational Religions, or American Religious History, among others. Religious studies and Asian American studies are both inherently interdisciplinary and multi-methodological disciplines. Both disciplines pay careful consideration to emic and etic boundaries, and while Asian American studies explicitly promotes and condones experimentation with personal experience in research and teaching, religious studies can also do so, though that is not usually the norm.

by Emily S. Wu, Dominican University of California

Our eighty-seven-year-old Elder, a third-generation descendent of a Chinese American fishing village in northern California, gives us a timid smile from behind the bar of the small diner that he and his family have operated since the 1940s. My students and I have just set up a laptop and microphone to record a first-person account of his life story. The Elder looks over our shoulders to where a man stands with a stern face and his arms crossed—this is a member of the nonprofit organization that now operates the village as a park. The twinkle in the Elder’s eyes dim, but ever a shrewd businessman, he composes himself immediately. With his usual charm, mixed with a fragility that comes with his age, the Elder gives us a narrative that is consistent with the official story of the location, a story that evolves around ecological explanations of the decline of the local fishing industry. Having interacted with the Elder for months before the formal recording, we have started to hear bits and pieces of another version of the history—one that is not going to be captured on tape.

by Joanne Doi, Maryknoll Sisters Integration Program, Chicago, IL

Pie chart displaying religious affiliation of Asian Americans v. the general US population

Before studying at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, I lived many years in the southern Andes of Peru, 12,000 feet above sea level in the high plains bioregion surrounding Lake Titicaca, sharing life and working with the Aymara indigenous peoples. I experienced a deep connection with the Aymara through our mutual vulnerability, solidarity, and friendship. Instead of my "otherness," they recognized and embraced me as another. I experienced what theologian Johann Baptist Metz describes as the "mysticism of open eyes": an increased readiness to see more, to name visible and invisible suffering and pay attention to it, to be moved to compassion, to "suffer with," to respond, and in so doing, to experience God's presence in suffering and hope. This expansion of love in Peru gave me new ways to see the experience of my own Japanese American history and a new heart now able to perceive the suffering and hope that was lived in the lives of my parents and grandparents through immigration, detention, to redress and beyond.

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