AfroAsian Encounters

Culture, History, Politics

342 pages

November, 2006

ISBN: 9780814775813



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Heike Raphael-Hernandez is professor of English at the University of Maryland in Europe. She is editor of Blackening Europe: The African American Presence.

All books by Heike Raphael-Hernandez

Shannon Steen is assistant professor of theater, dance, and performance studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

All books by Shannon Steen

Vijay Prashad is author of Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity.

All books by Vijay Prashad

Gary Okihiro is author of Common Ground: Reimagining American History.

All books by Gary Okihiro

With a Foreword by Vijay Prashad and an Afterword by Gary Okihiro

How might we understand yellowface performances by African Americans in 1930s swing adaptations of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, Paul Robeson's support of Asian and Asian American struggles, or the absorption of hip hop by Asian American youth culture?

AfroAsian Encounters is the first anthology to look at the mutual influence of and relationships between members of the African and Asian diasporas. While these two groups have often been thought of as occupying incommensurate, if not opposing, cultural and political positions, scholars from history, literature, media, and the visual arts here trace their interconnections and interactions, as well as the tensions between the two groups that sometimes arise. AfroAsian Encounters probes beyond popular culture to trace the historical lineage of these coalitions from the late nineteenth century to the present.

A foreword by Vijay Prashad sets the volume in the context of the Bandung conference half a century ago, and an afterword by Gary Okihiro charts the contours of a “Black Pacific.” From the history of Japanese jazz composers to the current popularity of black/Asian “buddy films” like Rush Hour, AfroAsian Encounters is a groundbreaking intervention into studies of race and ethnicity and a crucial look at the shifting meaning of race in the twenty-first century.


  • “Succeeds at placing blacks and Asians at the center of the Americas, inviting productive dialogue against the notion that interaction between these groups is out of the ordinary.”

    Journal of American Ethnic History

  • “This collection is evidence of the important topics and perspectives generated by illuminating AfroAsian linkages.”

    The Journal of African American History

  • “As fresh and exciting as it is important. This crucial book changes the conversation around American Studies and Ethnic Studies in key ways, challenging scholars to light out for previously-uncharted places on our mental maps in which borders are interrogated and challenged, alliances forged through imagined communities, commerce, popular culture, or politics are investigated and probed, and questions that are simultaneously new, and half a century old, are revivified. This volume, the first interdisciplinary anthology dealing with AfroAsian encounters, stands to become a landmark work in the field.”

    —Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Stanford University

  • “What critical anthologies do best is to present. . . . And AfroAsian Encounters does that.”

    Journal of Asian American Studies

  • “A ground-breaking interdisciplinary anthology entirely devoted to the studies of historical and contemporary African/Asian interactions.”

    African American Review