The Political Incorporation of Taiwanese Americans in Comparative Perspective
35 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 15 Sep 2010
Date Written: August 19, 2010
This paper reviews theories of immigrant political incorporation and compares the social and political adaptation of two very different ethnic groups in American history and contemporary politics. Immigrants and their descendants from Ireland are now considered a symbol of success in social integration and political incorporation by becoming "white" in US racial politics. Taiwanese Americans, on the other hand, are considered part of the migrant population from Asia who has been paradoxically characterized as a “yellow peril,” a “model minority,” and the “perpetual foreigner” throughout US history. What explains the paradoxical gaps in social and political incorporation among Taiwanese Americans? What accounts for the differences in political incorporation between Irish and Taiwanese Americans? And how can the Irish American experience help explain the prospect of political incorporation for Taiwanese (and other Asian) immigrants as well as the role of ethnic homeland politics in the process? We take stock of historical, institutional, and behavioral evidences related to the evolution of the two ethnic groups to challenge the validity of the conventional pluralist framework and liberalism’s assumptions of immigrant incorporation for an emergent, nonwhite, and majority-immigrant community.
Keywords: Taiwanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Asian Americans, Irish Americans, political incorporation
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