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HomeUS Top UniversitiesCourse explores dimensions of Asian American popular culture — Harvard Gazette

Course explores dimensions of Asian American popular culture — Harvard Gazette

An episode of Padma Lakshmi’s “Style the Nation” on ube, a purple yam ubiquitous in Filipino delicacies, set off a category dialogue final month about meals and authenticity. College students had simply learn cultural anthropologist Martin F. Manalansan’s essay “Past Authenticity” about introducing his American associates to Filipino meals in New York Metropolis and the way meals can characterize a “diasporic return.” This sparked a debate about whether or not meals corresponding to ramen, boba (bubble tea made with tapioca), and galbi (Korean barbecue} have been co-opted or welcomed into American society.

The subject resonated with Zoha Ibrahim ’26, a social research concentrator who labored all through highschool at her dad and mom’ Indian catering enterprise.

“I seen that my dad and mom usually felt the necessity to show their meals as ‘genuine’ in ways in which different cuisines didn’t,” she mentioned. “There was usually a notion of getting to promote meals simply Indian sufficient to be unique and interesting, however not a lot that it was alienating.”

Earlier within the semester, college students watched and analyzed the commercially profitable movies “Mississippi Masala” (1991), which explores interracial love between Black People and Indians People in rural Mississippi, and “Loopy Wealthy Asians” (2018). Regardless of the vital success of the latter blockbuster, college students critiqued its advertising and marketing and premise as a romance movie whereas appreciating its significance to Asian American illustration in Hollywood.

Summer season Shen ’25 puzzled what the movies could have sacrificed by interesting to a large viewers. “Will we need to make Asian American popular culture, particularly movies, a industrial success?” she requested. “Is that what illustration and success is outlined by, or can we need to deal with the content material?”

Earlier than taking Fernandez’s course, the economics concentrator felt overly vital of Asian American popular culture, particularly when illustration has been traditionally so restricted, she mentioned.

“This class has actually validated a few of my frustrations. There’s a stress, as a result of there’s illustration on display screen [to be like] ‘Oh, it’s actually good. I ought to simply be actually grateful for it,’” she mentioned. “However I realized from this class that it’s OK to have critiques.”

For Fernandez, you will need to give college students the area to really perceive the significance and relevance Asian American popular culture has to politics and social replica.

“What it means to be Asian American is commonly born out of those areas,” the lecturer mentioned.



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