The Politics and Institutionalization of Panethnic Identity

Soo Ah Kwon, corresponding author Author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyzes an underexamined aspect in Asian American studies: the depoliticization and nonprofitization of “Asian American” as a racial category since the civil rights era. It examines the institutionalization of Asian American political demands as part of neoliberal restructuring and management of minority populations. It argues for an understanding of this history of incorporation to examine contemporary Asian American nonprofit organizations and their impact on community politics and formations. Drawing on an example of a controversy that took place over the inclusion of “Pacific” at an Asian cultural center, the article investigates the depoliticization of panethnic racial identifications and the potential use of them as a political strategy. Referring to the actions among a panethnic group of Asian and Pacific Islander youth activists, the author argues for the use of flexible and contingent political racial identifications for social justice and racial inclusion.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-157
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Asian American Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013


  • Asia -- Anthropology & Sociology -- Overseas Communities -- United States
  • depoliticization of Asian American as a racial category
  • racial identities
  • nonprofitization
  • political formations
  • Oakland, California
  • Asian/Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy and Youth Leadership (AYPAL)


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