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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the diverse migration experiences of Americans with origins in Southeast Asia and excavates the trends in knowledge production about people from this region. To better understand Southeast Asian American history, the article contends that it is necessary to consider the complex histories of colonialism, imperialism, and war from the late nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth century. A commonality across Southeast Asian American groups is that their immigration history resulted primarily from U.S. political and military activities aimed at building the United States as a global power. From Filipinos during the Spanish-American War in 1898 to Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, and Hmong refugees from the Vietnam War, military interventions created opportunities for migration to the United States. Consequently, today’s Southeast Asian Americans are heterogeneous with varying levels of acculturation into U.S. society.

Keywords: Southeast Asian Americans, refugees, Filipinos, forced migration, Burmese, Cambodians, Hmong, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese

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