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Panel D: Asian America

Location: Rm. 3033

Rungsima Kullapat, “Siamese Twin’s Names: Two Kinds of Fruit from the Same Tree”

Research Affiliate, Carolina Asia Center, UNC-Chapel Hill

Keywords: Chang and Eng Bunker/Eng-Chang Bunker Digital Project

Thai have always called the famous North Carolina Siamese twins ‘In-Chan’. Nevertheless Chang-Eng became the names by which the world got to know them. In/Eng was born first and Chan/Chang was second. This pair of conjoined twins was taken from Siam by Mr. Robert Hunter, a Scottish trader, in 1829 to travel to Boston, Massachusetts. Eng-Chang were a popular couple; they developed close relationships with Dr. James C Calloway who invited them to his home in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. This resulted in Eng-Chang’s eventual move from New York to North Carolina.

Recently, the North Carolina Collection Gallery in the Wilson Library, at UNC-C H, initiated an Eng-Chang Bunker Digital Project, revising Eng-Chang information for the purposes of revamping and digitizing the exhibit. A team translated the material from English to Thai and Mandarin.

Revamping the exhibit raised the crucial issue of the name Eng-Chang. For the first time, this digitized exhibition shows the Thai names in Thai order, as they were officially written down and understood. These names have a real world reference, to a specific tree species which produces two kinds of fruit familiar to all Thai. The In-Chan tree, known in English as the Gold Fruit plant (Diospyros decandra), is endemic to and probably originated in Mainland Southeast Asia. Moreover, ‘In’ refers to Indra, the green king of the gods, while ‘Chan’ refers to the god of the Moon. Thus In-Chan’s mother gave the children she sent into the world supernatural as well as local references. Understanding the meaning behind the names In-Chan and the Thai context allows us to understand that these men were Thai, instead of the name bestowed on them in the US and Europe – Eng-Chang – which many people mistake as showing Chinese heritage.

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Sonia Kapur, “An exploratory study of Policies to address domestic violence related experiences of abused Asian Indian women”

Associate Professor of International Studies, UNC-Asheville

Keywords: domestic violence, policies

Domestic violence research indicates that in the United States, 1 in every 4 women have been a target of violence by an intimate partner. Among immigrant communities, and especially, the Asian Indian women, the situation is even more complex because of the interplay of complex issues surrounding immigration, ethnicity, and patriarchal norms. The manner in which policies are formed and implemented create conditions that undermine the rights of women and present unique challenges that further complicate the lives of women faced with situations of domestic violence. In this research, through interviews with domestic violence service providers working with immigrant communities, I explore the strengths and gaps in domestic violence related policies at the Federal and State levels. The key question this research explores is: How state level policies address the needs and concerns of abused Asian Indian marriage migrants? If yes, how do they differ? I highlight the policies that service providers find most useful and the ways in which some lacking policies, if implemented, can strengthen their work across 5 states (California, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Texas).

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Xiaodan Wang, “Unmasking Asian-American Perfection- Challenging stereotypes of model minorities”

Graduate Student, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke University

Keywords: Asian-American, stereotyping

This project’s research topic is invoking and challenging the stereotype of Asian Americans as model minorities. The earlier research on this trend examined the historical process and underlying factors that led to Asian immigrants developing this particular stereotype in their living society. Due to varying upbringings, as well as political and cultural circumstances, the second generation of Asian Americans is growing, which has pushed this community back into the spotlight. I base my analysis on the recently released Netflix series Beef, which accurately depicts East Asian culture in US society. Beef depicts the story of two strangers—Amy and Danny, two Asian Americans—uniting after a road rage incident during a low point in each of their personal lives. This led to a series of increasingly extreme retaliations against one another. Unlike the common perception of model minorities as hardworking, industrious, and having low rates of crime. On the other hand, there is a lot of violence, treachery, and hostility in the Asian-American community of Beef. It causes me to wonder about Asian Americans’ current status as model minorities and how they are currently shattering this stereotype. This research uses close reading and analysis of the television show Beef as its methodology. This paper’s first chapter will provide a quick overview of the model minorities’ theoretical foundation. The second chapter will examine how and why Beef uses character portrayals and tales to subvert the stereotype of model minority. This section would apply Freud’s theory of repression. To bolster the examination of this turn from a psychological standpoint. This essay tries to envision how minorities can gain a stronger sense of voice and belonging by concentrating more on the recent rise in Asian-American circumstances.