Common Ground: Reimagining American History

ISBN13: 9780691070070
Release Date: April 1st 2001
Published by: Princeton University Press
Pages: 160

In Common Ground, Gary Okihiro uses the experiences of Asian Americans to reconfigure the ways in which American history can be understood. He examines a set of binaries--East and West, black and white, man and woman, heterosexual and homosexual--that have structured the telling of our nation's history and shaped our ideas of citizenship since the late nineteenth century. Okihiro not only exposes the artifice of these binaries but also offers a less rigid and more embracing set of stories on which to ground a national history. Influenced by European hierarchical thinking in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Anglo Americans increasingly categorized other newcomers to the United States. Binaries formed in the American imagination, creating a sense of coherence among white citizens during times of rapid and far-reaching social change. Within each binary, however, Asian Americans have proven disruptive: they cannot be fully described as either Eastern or Western; they challenge the racial categories of black and white; and within the gender and sexual binaries of man and woman, straight and gay, they have been repeatedly positioned as neither nor.

Okihiro analyzes how groups of people and numerous major events in American history have generally been depicted, and then offers alternative representations from an Asian-American viewpoint--one that reveals the ways in which binaries have contributed toward simplifying, excluding, and denying differences and convergences. Drawing on a rich variety of sources, from the Chicago Exposition of 1898 to The Wizard of Oz, this book is a provocative response to current debates over immigration and race, multiculturalism and globalization, and questions concerning the nature of America and its peoples. The ideal foil to conventional surveys of American history, Common Ground asks its readers to reimagine our past free of binaries and open to diversity and social justice.

More work like this

Rethinking Reproduction, Reimagining Technology
Ruha Benjamin
Political Activism and Expression in Today's NBA
Adam Silver, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Craig Robinson, Steve Mills
The Souls of Black Folk (Audio and ePub)
W.E.B. Du Bois
Mike Brown’s Body: Meditations on War, Race and Democracy
Robin D.G. Kelley

Upcoming Events

Hold: A Meditation on Black Aesthetics
Nov 4, 2017 @ 9:00 am - Feb 11, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
Screening of 'Rosenwald' (2015)
Nov 27, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
The Half-Life of Freedom: Jelani Cobb
Nov 28, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
Cinema Today — Film Blackness: Screening of various films by Frances Bodomo and Ja’Tovia Gary
Nov 29, 2017 @ 7:30 pm
Making History Visible: Faculty Roundtable on Art and Visualizing the American Nation
Dec 1, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
Morgan Parker, poetry reading
Dec 14, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
p: (609) 258-4270 | f: (609) 258-3484

African American Studies for the 21st Century

© 2017 The Trustees of Princeton University
  1. 'Rethinking Empire and Democracy' Reena N. Goldthree, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 44:49
  2. 'The Formation of Religio-Racial Identity' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Judith Weisenfeld 47:32
  3. 'What Was African American Marriage?' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Tera Hunter 44:59
  4. 'Before Cornel West, After Cornel West' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Cornel West 52:46
  5. 'An Insistence on Not Being Discouraged' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Chika Okeke-Agulu 55:19
  6. 'A Through Line for African American Studies' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Imani Perry 44:07
  7. 'Activism and Risk in the Face of Trump' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Asanni York, Destiny Crockett 43:02
  8. 'Langston Hughes, Religious Thinker' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Wallace Best 45:50
  9. 'Convergences and Dissonance' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Keeanga-Yamahatta Taylor, Naomi Murakawa, & Imani Perry 60:08