Monday, October 29, 2007

Book: Asian American Assimilation: Ethnicity, Immigration, and Socioeconomic Attainment

Available @ Amazon

Asian American Assimilation: Ethnicity, Immigration, and Socioeconomic Attainment

We were pleased to hear of the new book by a favorite past Village contributor, C.N. Le, director of Asian American Studies at U. Mass Amherst and the mastermind behind the excellent web site, Longtime readers may recall that Dr. Le, a sociology and statistics expert, tends to appear on the Village to help put some sense to numbers when new elections surveys, Census, employment and Asian American demographic data, although he has also written extensively on other aspects of (h)APA society and Vietnamese American culture.

In his new book, which uses comprehensive data from the U.S. Census, Dr. Le broadens the idea of assimilation to include socioeconomic and institutional examples of integration by analyzing outcomes such as income, occupational prestige, small business ownership, residential segregation, and intermarriage for five Asian American groups, with an emphasis on Vietnamese. The results show that many Asian Americans, especially Vietnamese Americans, have historically and continue to encounter several disadvantages, particularly compared to Whites, when it comes to achieving structural integration.

Nonetheless, Dr. Le observes, many have been able to overcome such initial challenges in a relatively short amount of time by using collective resources and maintaining ethnic solidarity to weave together a pattern of achievement, mobility, and tradition. In analyzing the interconnections between history, institutional conditions, and community solidarity, Dr. Le's book serves as a valuable reference point and resource for students, policymakers, and Americans from all backgrounds.

In this, the book adds hard evidence to the growing body of research and publications that have recently begun to chip away at the myth of Asian Americans-as-monolithic-Model-Minority. Other research we've covered include, most recently, a UCLA study on APA undergraduate educational attainment in particular.

Dr. Le's book was released by LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC as part of a New Americans series.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jindal becomes first elected Indian American Governor

Well, for those who have been following our Bobby Watch, this past weekend's action in Louisiana answered our question.

Representative Bobby Jindal, Oxford-educated son of Indian immigrants, handily trounced a packed field of 11 opponents to become not only Louisiana's first non-white governor since the 1870s, but the first Indian American to be elected a state governor in U.S. history. He took 54 percent of the votes, which was enough to avoid a November 17 runoff.

According to the follow-up reporting by the Associated Press, Jindal, at 36 year, will also be the youngest state governor in the U.S.

Jindal had previously run for governor in 2003, losing to Kathleen Blanco by a narrow margin.

BTW, if you missed the Victory Speech...

Friday, October 19, 2007

9500 Liberty - Immigration Video Channel

What is 9500 Liberty? Call it “Macaca 2.0”.

We recently got a head's up from friends of the Village about an interesting project underway in Virginia that tries to bring some focus and dialogue to the immigration debates for those who want to give more independent thought to the issue.

A collective of activist filmmakers, many of them Asian Americans who had prominently pushed the charge to oust then-Virginia Senator George Allen during Macaca-gate, have again convened in the state to create a multivocal video documentary project about local government efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants in Manassas.

Calling itself 9500Liberty, the group has created a subscribable online video channel to form what it calls an "interactive documentary wall" comprising short guerilla videos that (to the group's credit) present multiple perspectives on the local immigration debate.

Although the project coordinators’ sympathies are clearly with immigrants in the area, 9500 Liberty publishes videos that convey the perspectives of both proponents and opponents of the anti-immigration measures. Videos range from interviews with Corey A. Stewart, Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, to presentations given at public hearings to harrowing on-the-street confrontations between local whites and Hispanic and Asians.

The group has also crafted a network of discussions on Blogspot, Facebook, and MySpace as well as YouTube, aiming to “elevate dialogue…and inform the public, and investigate alternatives to the intense polarization that is hindering progress on the immigration issue.”

In this way, they say, they hope to help pre-emptively inform the public about a complex issue, rather than allow immigration to become the kind of emotional, polarizing issue in the next national election that gay marriage was in the previous one. Although some viewers may well leave the 9500 Liberty Channel still convinced of their own position on the immigration crackdowns -- whether pro or con -- the visit should leave them better aware of the real issues beyond the campaign rhetoric, and better equipped to make an independent decision.

Louisiana Watch: Jobs, and Could Jindal Just Plain Win?

It's been a while since we logged in here with a Louisiana note, although we've continued to run news tidbits in our ongoing "Bobby Watch" tracking gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal's continuing strong run up to Saturday's election.

Most recently, the AP is musing that Jindal Might Avoid Runoff for Gov, that is, "If he gets more than 50 percent of the vote in Saturday's primary, the 36-year-old, Oxford-educated son of Indian immigrants will become Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction and the youngest U.S. governor in office."

He would also become the first elected Indian American governor of a U.S. state. (Careful readers will recall that the title of First Indian American governor was recently scooped by New Jersey transportation commissioner Kris Kolluri.)

Turnout is already high in early balloting, propelled by a new law that "means anyone can cast a ballot during a designated seven-day period, without having to proffer an excuse or an explanation," according to The Times-Picayune's So, keep an eye out on Saturday; history might just be made -- and early, to boot!



With its Katrina hangover not completely dissipated, Louisiana has a good deal at stake in the election. In a separate series this weekend, posted as a supplement in our Career Center news section, we're running an analysis of the jobs outlook in Louisiana, which on its flipside is paralleled by a serious labor shortage. We will also be highlighting Louisiana job opportunities that employers have posted on the job bank at IMDiversity.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shen Wei Wins MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship

When Choreographer Shen Wei was recently in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the University of Musical Society debut of “Second Visit to the Empress,” UMS President Ken Fischer was proud to announce that earlier that week Shen Wei had won the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

Shen Wei, founder and artistic director of Shen Wei Dance Arts, is a choreographer who combines Eastern and Western influences and multiple artistic disciplines to create a bold and visually arresting form of dance-theater. Born in China’s Hunan province and trained from his youth in calligraphy, painting, and Chinese operatic performance, Shen Wei became a founding member of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first modern dance company in China, prior to moving to New York in 1995. Through choreographed movements that are precise and inventive, he and his dancers perform highly stylized steps and gestures inspired by Western dance traditions as well as Chinese opera, acrobatics, and martial arts. With the compositional rigor of a visual artist, he incorporates vivid colors, striking costume design, and imaginative use of space into theatrical works that are, at once, kinetic paintings. Staging his dances on a grand scale with a high level of production detail, Shen defies expectations with each new work. Folding (2000) begins with dancers draped in dramatic red against a shimmering blue backdrop and concludes with the chanting of Tibetan Buddhist monks, while his Rite of Spring (2003) offers a spare, minimalist approach to a classic modernist score. In these and other works, Shen Wei fuses a diverse range of art forms into an aesthetically striking dance language that is all his own.

Shen Wei received degrees from the Hunan Arts Academy and the Guangdong Dance School. He performed with the Hunan State Xian Opera Company (1984-1989) and the Guangdong Modern Dance Company (1991-1994) prior to founding Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2000. His company has performed in festivals and at venues throughout the U.S. and internationally, including the Lincoln Center Festival, the American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Sadler’s Wells, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among many others. A painter as well as a choreographer, Shen’s works have been exhibited in New York City and Hong Kong. He is now based in New York City.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Central Asian music and poetry event

Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia:Nomads, Mystics and Troubadours
Alim Qasimov Ensemble, The Bardic Divas, Badakhshan Ensemble
Wednesday, October 24, 8 pm, Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Some of the world's most ancient and mysterious music and epic poetry comes to Ann Arbor in a remarkable concert featuring 18 of Central Asia's greatest singers and musicians, many of them appearing in the US for the first time. Performed against a backdrop of vibrant projected images, this concert includes artists from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kalmykia.

Showcasing some of the most exotic musical traditions on the planet, the concert includes the legendary mugham singer Alim Qasimov (Silk Road Project) in a program of riveting duets with his daughter, Fergane, accompanied by a four-man ensemble; trance-inducing mystical songs based on texts by classical poets Rumi, Hafez, and Nasir Khusrow, performed by the seven-person Badakhshan Ensemble; and the once-taboo, all-female ensemble, Bardic Divas. This multi-media performance includes supertitles and a two-camera live-video feed that projects close-up images of the musicians, as well a brief documentary film preceding each performance group.

check out for ticket info.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Cambodian Magic Flute at University of Michigan

Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute
Choreography, traditional music arrangements,and lyrics by Sophiline Cheam Shapiro; Performed by the Khmer Arts Ensemble (Phnom Penh)
Saturday, October 20, 1 pm [FAMILY PERFORMANCE]
Saturday, October 20, 8 pm
Sunday, October 21, 2 pmPower Center

The brilliant classicism of imperial Vienna meets the mythic-poetic splendor of ancient Angkor in Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute, a contemporary re-imagining of Mozart's fantastical opera by Cambodian-American choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. Performed in the refined and elaborate movement language of the thousand-year-old Cambodian classical dance tradition and set to traditional musical motifs played out by a pin peat instrumental ensemble, 32 dancers, musicians, and singers take the stage to explore the themes of enlightened change and transformation that frame Mozart's masterpiece. Cultures meld as we follow Pamina's arduous journey to transcend the rivalries and betrayals from which she is born and seek out a middle path of justice, tolerance, and love.

Commissioned by Peter Sellars for his New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, Pamina Devi is "a must see. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro's exotic realm of bejeweled dancers and formal patterns, full of elegance, filled the stage. Every finger of each backwardly arched hand, each raised foot while kneeling, all were accomplished with a calmly deliberate and beautifully fluid motion. This was an amazing experience." (Salzburger Nachrichten)In Khmer with English supertitles. for ticket info.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Çudamani comes to University of Michigan

Çudamani: Odalan Bali
I Dewa Putu Berata, artistic director
Friday, October 19, 8 pm Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Balinese music and dance ensemble Çudamani (pronounced SOO-duh-mahn-ee) makes its UMS debut with Odalan Bali, providing a unique window into the spiritual and cultural source of Balinese performing arts. Inspired by Bali’s timeless cycles of ceremony and ritual, Çudamani’s work transports the audience from the everyday world with its virtuosic detail, emotion, and energy. An exquisite synthesis of music, drama, and movement, Odalan Bali captures the exhilarating splendor of the Balinese temple festival, bringing to life vivid tales of gods and heroes of Balinese mythology and history. From the clamor of villagers working at dawn to the calm of prayer and worship, and from the meditative resonance of voice and flute to the breathtaking dances for which Bali is famous, this original work traces the life of a ceremony, from the awakening of the ritual site to purification, and, finally, to spiritual union.The performance features dazzling dancers, glittering costumes, and the shimmering polyrhythms of gamelan music, a living tradition in Bali. Beyond mere aethetic entertainment, Balinese arts capure and amplify the shifting dimensions of human emotion, nature, the spirit world, and the cosmos. Go to for ticket info.

A Related Event:
Roundtable: Traditional Modernity: A Panel Discussion on Identity and Culture in Asian Performing Arts, Thursday, Oct 18, 4-5:30 pm, School of Social Work Building, Room 1636 (1080 South University Avenue), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
A panel of experts on Asian performing arts and theater practitioners will discuss the “identity” of contemporary Asian performing arts and social and cultural function of the performing arts throughout the Asian continent. A collaboration with the the U-M Center for Chinese Studies, U-M Center for South East Asian Studies, U-M Center for World Performance Studies, U-M Institute for Humanities, U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance.