Social and Political Data Science: Introduction

Karl Ho

School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences

University of Texas at Dallas

On Interior Chinatown:
Reflection on Asian American Identity

Invited talk at the Irving Library Chinese American History panel, May 2, 2023

Speaker bio.

  1. Early Immigration (pre-1960s)

  2. Post-World War II Immigration (1950s-1960s)

  3. Late 20th Century Immigration (1970s-1990s)

Taiwanese Americans: background

  1. Early Immigration (pre-1960s): In the early 20th century, a small number of Taiwanese arrived in the United States, primarily for educational purposes. This number remained relatively low due to restrictive immigration policies, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which limited the number of Chinese immigrants allowed into the country.

Taiwanese Americans: background

Yung Wing (1828-1912): Yung Wing was the first Chinese student to graduate from an American university, Yale College, in 1854. Although born in Guangzhou, China, his work in promoting education and advocating for Chinese students to study abroad led to close ties with Taiwan. He played a significant role in establishing the Chinese Educational Mission, which allowed many Chinese students, including those from Taiwan, to study in the United States during the late 19th century.

Taiwanese Americans

 

Early Immigration (pre-1960s):

2. Post-World War II Immigration (1950s-1960s): After World War II, more Taiwanese arrived in the United States, as political and social changes in Taiwan, including the relocation of the Republic of China's (ROC) government from mainland China to Taiwan in 1949, led to increased emigration. During this period, the U.S. government relaxed its immigration policies, allowing more skilled professionals and students from Taiwan to enter the country.

Taiwanese Americans: background

Samuel C. C. Ting (1936-present): A renowned physicist, Ting was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Chinese parents from Taiwan. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976 for discovering a new subatomic particle, the J/ψ particle. He has contributed significantly to the field of particle physics.

Taiwanese Americans

 

Source: MIT Physics

Post-World War II Immigration (1950s-1960s):

Taiwanese Americans

 

Post-World War II Immigration (1950s-1960s):

Wen Ho Lee (1939-present): Lee, a Taiwanese-born American scientist, worked as a nuclear physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was falsely accused of spying for the People's Republic of China in the late 1990s, which led to a highly publicized investigation and legal case. Eventually, he was cleared of all charges related to espionage. His case highlighted the racial profiling and discrimination faced by many Asian Americans, including Taiwanese Americans, during that period.

3. Late 20th Century Immigration (1970s-1990s): The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act abolished national-origin quotas and introduced a new preference system that favored family reunification and skilled immigrants. This policy change led to a significant increase in Taiwanese immigration to the United States. Many of these immigrants were highly educated professionals, such as engineers, scientists, and doctors.

Taiwanese Americans: background

Taiwanese Americans

 

Source: Getty Images

Late 20th Century Immigration (1970s-1990s):

Ang Lee (1954-present): Ang Lee is a highly acclaimed Taiwanese-born film director known for his diverse and successful filmography. Some of his notable works include "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain," and "Life of Pi." He has received numerous awards, including multiple Academy Awards for Best Director.

Taiwanese Americans

 

Source: Getty Images

Late 20th Century Immigration (1970s-1990s):

Ang Lee (1954-present): Ang Lee is a highly acclaimed Taiwanese-born film director known for his diverse and successful filmography. Some of his notable works include "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain," and "Life of Pi." He has received numerous awards, including multiple Academy Awards for Best Director.

Taiwanese Americans

 

Source: Forbes

Late 20th Century Immigration (1970s-1990s):

Jerry Yang (1968-present): Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Jerry Yang is the co-founder of Yahoo! Inc., an early pioneer of the internet era. He moved to the United States at the age of 10 and later co-founded Yahoo! with David Filo in 1994, while pursuing a Ph.D. at Stanford University. Yang played a significant role in the development and growth of the internet and its services.

Taiwanese Americans

 

Late 20th Century Immigration (1970s-1990s):

Elaine Chao (1953-present): Elaine Chao was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and moved to the United States at the age of eight. She served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001 to 2009 under President George W. Bush and as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 2017 to 2021 under President Donald Trump. Chao is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a U.S. president's cabinet. She is married to Mitchell McCon

Taiwanese Americans

 

Source: NBA.com

Late 20th Century Immigration (1970s-1990s):

Jeremy Shu-How Lin (1988 - )is a Taiwanese-American professional basketball player for the Kaohsiung 17LIVE Steelers of the P. League+. He unexpectedly led a winning turnaround with the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association during the 2011–12 season, generating a cultural phenomenon known as "Linsanity". He is currently playing professional basketball in Taiwan.

More in academia:

1. Steven Chu (1948-present): Born in St. Louis, Missouri, to parents from Taiwan, Steven Chu is a physicist and former United States Secretary of Energy. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for his work on laser cooling and trapping of atoms. Chu has held professorships at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, and served as the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

2. Shing-Tung Yau (1949-present): Shing-Tung Yau is a mathematician born in Shantou, China, but raised in Taiwan. He is known for his work in differential geometry, particularly for proving the Calabi conjecture and the positive energy theorem in general relativity. Yau has been a professor at Harvard University since 1987 and was awarded the Fields Medal in 1982, one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics.

Famous Taiwanese Americans

More in academia:

3. Andrew Yao (1946-present): Andrew Yao is a computer scientist born in Shanghai, China, but raised in Taiwan. He is known for his pioneering work in theoretical computer science, particularly in computational complexity theory. Yao has taught at several prestigious institutions, including MIT, Stanford University, and Tsinghua University. He was awarded the Turing Award in 2000, often considered the "Nobel Prize of Computing."

4. Chenming Hu (1944-present): Chenming Hu is a Taiwanese-born American electrical engineer and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is known for his work on semiconductor devices, particularly the development of the FinFET transistor, which has had a significant impact on the electronics industry. In 2020, Hu received the IEEE Medal of Honor, one of the highest awards in electrical engineering.

Famous Taiwanese Americans

More in academia:

5. K. C. Nicolaou (1946-present): Kyriacos Costa Nicolaou is a Cypriot-American chemist born in Cyprus, who grew up in Egypt and received his higher education in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States. He has Taiwanese ancestry from his mother's side. Nicolaou is known for his work in the field of organic chemistry, particularly in the total synthesis of natural products. He has held faculty positions at the University of California, San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, and Rice University.

 

Famous Taiwanese Americans

  • As of the 2020 U.S. Census, there were approximately 215,000 Taiwanese Americans living in the United States, making up a small but important part of the larger Asian American population.

  • Taiwanese Americans are generally well-educated and have a high median household income, reflecting the significant number of skilled professionals in the community.

  • Profession: IT, service sector, medicine, etc.

Demographics

  •  Concentrated in several metropolitan areas across the United States, with notable populations in California (particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles area), New York City, and Houston, Texas.

    • Los Angeles, California:

      • estimated Taiwanese population of over 50,000.

    • San Francisco Bay Area, California:

      • around 30,000.

    • New York City, New York:

      • around 20,000.

    • Houston, Texas:

      • round 6,000.

    • Seattle, Washington:

      • around 5,000.

         

Demographics

Act I: Generic Asian Man
Act II: Int. Golden Palace
Act III: Ethnic Recurring
Act IV: Striving Immigrant
Act V: Kung Fu Dad
Act VI: The Case of the Missing Asian
Act VII: Ext. Chinatown

Life as a second generation
Asian American

  • Stereotypes and typecasting:
    • Willis faces constant typecasting in the entertainment industry, which limits him to playing roles like "Background Oriental Male," "Delivery Guy," or "Generic Asian Man." He dreams of reaching the pinnacle of his career by becoming the "Kung Fu Guy," but even that role is based on a stereotype.
    • Throughout the novel, Willis navigates this challenge by trying to break free from these restrictive roles and prove himself as an actor. For instance, when he is unexpectedly given the lead role in a court case, he embraces the opportunity and performs with dedication.

Willis' challenges

  • Family expectations and identity:
    • As a second-generation Taiwanese American, Willis struggles with the expectations of his immigrant parents. His father, a former actor himself, has experienced similar limitations in Hollywood and wants Willis to succeed where he could not.
    • Willis must reconcile his desire to live up to his father's expectations with his need to forge his own path in the entertainment industry. He overcomes this challenge by gradually understanding and accepting the sacrifices his parents made and the complex relationship they have with their own cultural identities.

Willis' challenges

  • Cultural assimilation:
    • Willis wrestles with the pressure to assimilate into American culture while maintaining his Taiwanese heritage. He faces discrimination and prejudices that make him feel like an outsider in both American and Asian communities. Willis confronts this challenge by reflecting on his own identity and the experiences of his family.
    • As he learns more about his parents' struggles and their cultural background, he begins to understand the nuances of his own identity and embrace the complexities of being a Taiwanese American in contemporary society.

Willis' challenges

  • Personal relationships:
    • Willis struggles with connecting to others on a deeper level, both romantically and platonically. His relationships are often complicated by his career aspirations and his struggle with identity.
    • As the novel progresses, Willis starts to let go of the Hollywood facades and stereotypes, learning to embrace the people in his life for who they are, which allows him to develop more meaningful connections.

Willis' struggles

  • Willis confronts these challenges by gradually breaking free from the stereotypes and expectations imposed upon him. He learns to embrace his heritage and identity, eventually finding a sense of belonging and self-worth. "Interior Chinatown" portrays a poignant journey of self-discovery and resilience in the face of adversity, as Willis navigates the complexities of being a Taiwanese American in a society that often marginalizes and pigeonholes him based on his race and cultural background.

Willis' challenges

Diaspora and Identity reflections

  • Wars
    • Opium war
    • Two world wars (1914-1918, 1939-1945)
    • Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945)
    • Chinese civil war (1945-1949)
    • Korean war (1950-1953)
    • Vietnamese war (1955-1975)
  • Chinese movements
    • Great leap forward/Hundred flowers movement
    • Cultural Revolution
  • Economic reforms
  • Democratization
  • Education reform (in Taiwan)

Taiwanese identity in Taiwan

Identity and Political Positions in Taiwan

  • [X] American identity struggles is not unique to Taiwanese or Chinese Americans

  • Speak volume to challenges to immigrants in an open society, particularly in America

  • Materialist vs. Post-materialist measures of success and meaning split generations

  • Another way to seeing this is we have different FOMO's

  • What about the Hong Kong stories?

Reflections

Thank you!

Taiwanese identity in the United States and Taiwan

By Karl Ho

Taiwanese identity in the United States and Taiwan

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