Immigration, Imagined Communities, and Collective Memories of Asian American Experiences: A Content Analysis of Asian American Experiences in Virginia U.S. History Textbooks


Elementary and Early Childhood Education

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This study explores how Asian American experiences are depicted in four high school U.S. history textbooks and four middle school U.S. history textbooks used in Virginia. The analytic framework was developed from the scholarship of collective memories and histories of immigration in Asian American studies. Content analysis of the textbooks suggests the overall narrative of Asian American history in U.S. history textbooks aligns with the grand narrative of American history, that is, the “story of progress.” This major storyline of Asian Americans – that they suffered from nativist racism and discrimination for a long time, overcame these obstacles through their hard work and efforts, and achieved the American dream – fits well into the master narrative of American progress, highlighting the process of their belonging to the U.S. as citizens. This storyline misrepresents the realities and diversity among Asian ethnic groups and their migration histories as well as the fluid nature of their identities across national borders. These findings stress the continued challenges in representing Asian American experiences as well as other marginalized groups in U.S. history textbooks.