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Contesting the Last Frontier Race, Gender, Ethnicity, and Political Representation of Asian Americans


Contesting the Last Frontier Race, Gender, Ethnicity, and Political Representation of Asian Americans

  • ISBN 13:


  • ISBN 10:


  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 06/21/2022
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Women of color, including Asian Pacific American (APA) women, have made considerable inroads into elective office in the United States in recent years; in fact, their numbers have grown more rapidly than those of white women. Nonetheless, focusing only on success stories gives the false impression that racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression are not barriers for APA candidates to public office. It also detracts attention from the persistent and severe under-representation of all women and nonwhite men in elective office in the United States.

In Contesting the Last Frontier, Pei-te Lien and Nicole Filler examine the scope and significance of the rise of Asian Pacific Americans in US elective office over the past half-century. To help interpret the complex experiences of these political women and men situated at the intersection of race, gender, and other dimensions of marginalization, Lien and Filler adopt an intersectionality framework that puts women of color at the center of their analysis. They also draw on their own original dataset of APA electoral participation over the past 70 years, as well as in-depth interviews with elected officials. They examine APA candidates' trajectories to office, their divergent patterns of political socialization, the barriers and opportunities they face on the campaign trail, and how these elected officials enact their roles as representatives at local, state, and federal levels of government. In turn, they counter various tropes, including the "model minority" myth that suggests that
Asian Americans have attained a level of success in education, work, and politics that precludes attention to racial discrimination. Importantly, the book also provides a look into how APA elected officials of various origins strive to serve the interests of the rapidly expanding and majority-immigrant population, especially those disadvantaged by the intersections of gender, ethnicity, and nativity. Ambitious and comprehensive, Contesting the Last Frontier fills an important gap in American electoral history and uncovers the lived experiences of APA women and men on the campaign trail and in elective office.

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