UPDATE: Growing Up Asian American in Children's Literature, Proposed Edited Collection - Deadline Extended to June 1, 2012

full name / name of organization: 
Ymitri Mathison, Ph.D.
contact email: 

"Growing Up Asian American in Children's Literature" seeks to explore some of the major issues Asian American children and adolescents face growing up in the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Defining the term Asian American inclusively, it will include all the "Asian" ethnicities from the Asian continent, the Pacific Rim, and also from around the world. Asian Americans are either lumped under one monolithic umbrella with their individual ethnicities reduced to the catch-all terms of "Asian," "Chinese," or "Indian, " or, frequently, South Asians and Middle Easterners are excluded from the Asian category altogether. The mission of the collection is to put children/tweens, adolescents/young adults (ages 1-17 years) front and center because they are a neglected category in Asian American Studies with the scholarship generally ignoring the diverse literature focusing on children's unique experiences.

The central question the collection seeks to discuss is what it means to grow up Asian and American in the United States. Is it possible to define the identity and nationality of "Asian" given its many categories? Is there a loss of identity in assimilation or is assimilation possible at all? For example, even American-born children with an American accent can be considered "foreigners" but not "American." How are Asian American children's experiences different from other minority groups? How do American-born, immigrant, or bi-racial children construct themselves racially and culturally? Are different regions of the country factors in how they grow up, such as California and New York/New Jersey?

The collection will be interdisciplinary and may include non-traditional texts, such as picture books, comic books, TV shows or movies, toys, and traditional adolescent classics such as John Okada's No-No Boy (1957) and Laurence Yep's Dragonwings (1975), graphic novels, such as Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese (2006), and recently published novels, such as Thanhha Lai's 2012 Newbery Honor Book Inside Out and Back Again (2011), and N. H. Senzai's Shooting Kabul (2010). These texts are examples, and there are many to choose from.

Possible article topics may include, but are not limited to:

• What it means to be Asian and American
• Identity and assimilation: white on the inside and yellow/brown on the outside
• Race/racism/exoticized and marginalized
• Immigrant (FOB) vs. the second/third generation (ABC or Desi).
• Bi-racialism, adoption, ethnicity, and hybridity
• Diaspora, home and homeland, transnationalism
• Globalization, citizenship, and mobility
• Family separations (war-torn homeland/refugees)
• Education and stereotypes of the model minority
• 9/11
• Religion in a Christian country: Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.
• Poverty/ illegal immigration
• Bilingualism, translation, and the child interpreter
• Alien/foreigner but never "American"
• Gender, sexuality, homosexuality

A major university press has indicated a strong interest in the project. Please submit a detailed 500-800 word abstract and a brief CV by June 1, 2012 to Ymitri Mathison at yjmathison@pvamu.edu. Completed articles of 6000-7500 words are due by November 1, 2012. I hope to turn in the collection to the publisher in early 2013 for a possible publication date in late 2013. Inquiries welcome, and all emails will be acknowledged.