Chapter

Making Multicultural America

Chiou-Ling Yeh

in Making an American Festival

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780520253506
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942431 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520253506.003.0001
Making Multicultural America

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In February 1953, the first Chinese New Year Festival Committee placed an announcement in the major San Francisco Chinese American newspapers. One of the reasons for hosting the Chinese New Year Festival was to unify non-communist Chinese Americans. This announcement explicitly situated the ethnic festival in a Cold War context; it was clearly a response to the direct impact of American foreign policy on the ethnic community. Whereas most literature on the model minority myth and the general history of Chinese Americans tends to concentrate on the class dimension, this book explores Chinese New Year celebrations and ethnic beauty pageants and parades, addressing class differences within the community and arguing that gender and sexuality are inseparable from ethnic-identity formation. Transnational politics and economies affected Chinese American identity formation and the Chinese New Year celebration. This book demonstrates how certain Chinese American community leaders created, manipulated, and marketed group identity. It also considers how globalization and transnational queer activism affected the ethnic celebration, and how commercialism and the mass media entered the terrain of ethnic-identity formation.

Keywords: Chinese New Year; San Francisco; ethnic identity; Chinese Americans; beauty pageants; Cold War; politics; queer activism; globalization; mass media

Chapter.  4355 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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