Asian American Media Activism

Fighting for Cultural Citizenship

272 pages

22 halftones

May, 2016

ISBN: 9781479866830



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Lori Kido Lopez is Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Communication Arts Department and an affiliate of the Asian American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies Departments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

All books by Lori Kido Lopez

Choice Top 25 Academic Title

How activists and minority communities use media to facilitate social change and achieve cultural citizenship. 
Among the most well-known YouTubers are a cadre of talented Asian American performers, including comedian Ryan Higa and makeup artist Michelle Phan. Yet beneath the sheen of these online success stories lies a problem—Asian Americans remain sorely underrepresented in mainstream film and television. When they do appear on screen, they are often relegated to demeaning stereotypes such as the comical foreigner, the sexy girlfriend, or the martial arts villain.           
The story that remains untold is that as long as these inequities have existed, Asian Americans have been fighting back—joining together to protest offensive imagery, support Asian American actors and industry workers, and make their voices heard. Providing a cultural history and ethnography, Asian American Media Activism assesses everything from grassroots collectives in the 1970s up to contemporary engagements by fan groups, advertising agencies, and users on YouTube and Twitter. In linking these different forms of activism, Lori Kido Lopez investigates how Asian American media activism takes place and evaluates what kinds of interventions are most effective. Ultimately, Lopez finds that activists must be understood as fighting for cultural citizenship, a deeper sense of belonging and acceptance within a nation that has long rejected them. 


  • “Original and provocative, this book is a revelation, making a sorely needed intervention in the fields of media studies, social movement studies, ethnic studies, and American studies.  Well written and deftly researched, Asian American Media Activism pushes our understanding of how ethnic groups are fighting for improved representation and enacting cultural citizenship on a daily basis within the realm of mediated popular culture.”

    —Mary Beltrán, author of Latina/o Stars in U.S. Eyes and co-editor of Mixed Race Hollywood

  • “Moving beyond issues of representation of Asians in mainstream media, Lopez leads us through a fascinating debate, focusing on how Asian American audiences participate as cultural citizens and active consumers of mainstream and minority media. Provocative and persuasive, this book provides a nuanced understanding of the strengths and limitations of these forms of advocacy.”

    —Peter X Feng, author of Identities in Motion: Asian American Film and Video

  • " This is an absolutely remarkable book. It is meticulously researched and very carefully argued.”

    Choice Connect