March 3, 2003
American studies professor to present slide/talk
on Chinese American womens history
By Scott Rappaport
American studies professor Judy Yung will present a slide/talk featuring
the personal stories of women in Chinese American history on Tuesday,
March 25, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Bay Tree Building, Conference
|Judy Yung will speak on March 25 as part
of a new Diversity Lecture Series.
The event is part of a new Diversity Lecture Series sponsored by the
Office of Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action. All UCSC
faculty and staff are invited to attend.
The presentation is based on extensive research Yung conducted for
her latest book, Unbound Voices: A Documentary History of Chinese
Women in San Francisco. Drawing upon an intimate collection of letters,
poems, autobiographies, newspaper clippings, and oral histories, the
book portrays the lives of 40 Chinese American women from the late 1800s
through World War II, creating a picture of their ability to make a
home for themselves in America, despite severe racial, economic, and
"Ive taken this slide presentation around the country,"
Yung noted. "Through the slides and women's stories, I hope to
illustrate how these women took an active role in creating their own
history, refuting the prevailing stereotype of the passive
Chinese American woman."
She gave the example of Flora Belle Jan, a second-generation Chinese
woman born in the United States, who was a flapper, poet, and writer
in the 1920s. Yung came upon Jan in an oral history collection at Stanford
University. She tracked down and interviewed Jans two daughters
who had kept all of her letters and short stories, as well as articles
and columns that were published in San Francisco newspapers and student
publications. Using all these pieces of information, Yung was able to
reconstruct the puzzle of Jans personal history.
Yung said this particular story reveals the identity dilemmas that
Chinese American women faced as they simultaneously encountered rejection
by mainstream America, and their own difficulty in accepting the traditional
gender roles of Chinese culture.
"She was able to carve out a new, bicultural identity," Yung
noted. "And she was able to do it without rejecting her traditional
Chinese heritage, in which she still had a sense of pride."
Unbound Voices was written as a sequel to Yungs 1995 book,
Unbound Feet, a 10-year project that earned the 1996 National
Book Award in History from the Association of Asian American Studies.
She is also the author of Chinese Women of America: A Pictorial History
and coauthor of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants
on Angel Island, 1910-1940.
Yung is currently working on a biography of Eddie Fung, the only Chinese
American soldier captured by the Japanese in World War II. She has to
date conducted approximately 50 hours of interviews that she will eventually
turn into a publication.
Yung was introduced to Fung by a military historian while doing research
for her next book, Chinese American Voices, 1852-2000. That volume,
which will have a national focus, is now in the editing stage and is
expected to be published in 2004.
"People contribute to diversity in different ways," Yung
observed. "For me, my contribution is to do research and add the
voices of Chinese American women to the tableau of history."
For more information about the UCSC Diversity Lecture Series--open to
faculty and staff--call (831) 459-1590. Registration
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