• 2021 Duration: Spring 2021


Project Contributors

In light of recent acts of violence targeting Asians and Asian Americans, and the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, Asian Americans are experiencing heightened visibility and precariousness. There are growing calls to understand the historical roots of anti-Asian racism in the formation of the U.S. nation and to situate Asian diasporic history in the context of U.S. imperial intervention. The archives of Dalip Singh Saund, the first Asian American Member of Congress, offer a unique opportunity to investigate this history. Throughout the spring of 2021, undergraduate student researchers explored the Saund archives to excavate the burden of firstness carried by Saund alongside his experience of immigration, racism, and nativism; his relation to model minority discourse; and his engagement with local and state politics, border politics, civil rights, settler-colonialism, and Cold War geopolitics.

The close readings of archival materials present here explore the following questions: How can the Saund archive help us understand the evolving terms of what it means to be Asian American? How does the Saund archive reshape our understanding of what counts as history and what is removed from the record? How can we frame and translate the artifacts found in Saund’s archive into public knowledge, with a view to transform our understanding of Asian America today?