Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia. Edited by Mary Yu Danico. Los Angeles: Sage Reference, 2015. 4 vols. Alkaline $595 (ISBN: 978-1-4522-8190-2).

Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia is a comprehensive four-volume reference work that consists of 315 in-depth entries discussing many aspects of Asian American culture. Editor Mary Yu Danico, a past-president of the Association for Asian American Studies and currently a professor at California State Polytechnic University, states in the introduction, “We recognize that it is impossible to discuss every facet of Asian American society, but we have put forth our best efforts to examine the historical, social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of our society through the lens of multiple disciplines and voices” (xxv).

Danico’s introduction insightfully summarizes Asian American immigration history and the growing field of Asian American Studies. A chronology in volume 1 provides a solid overview of significant events in Asian American history.

The alphabetically arranged entries are written and signed by international scholars, and each entry concludes with cross-references and citations for further reading on the topic. There is a helpful reader’s guide in volume 1 that organizes articles into fourteen topical categories, such as “Asian American Literature,” “Family, Generations, and Youth Culture,” “Identities,” and “Social Problems.”

There are many lengthy and in-depth entries covering the social and historical cultures of twenty-one ethnic groups, some of which include Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Pacific Islander, and Thai Americans. This encyclopedia also contains informative essays about the LGBTQ Asian American identity, community, and issues. A significant number of entries are quite unique and focus on current and pop culture topics like “Beauty Pageants,” “Bollywood,” “Harold and Kumar Films,” “Helicopter Parents,” and “YouTube Performers.”

One of the most impressive features of this encyclopedia is the collection of primary documents which are the content of volumes 3 and 4. There are 213 primary documents spanning 1849–2013. Readers can examine the full-text of many landmark cases, letters, and legal acts. Some of the more memorable documents are the text of an 1880 pamphlet titled “Chinatown Declared a Nuisance” and the 1977 document “The Forgotten Minority: Asian Americans in New York City.” Another useful feature included in the appendix of volume 4 is the “US Census Bureau: 2010 Census Briefs—The Asian Population,” which is full of many rich statistics and analysis.

Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia would sufficiently supplement Xiaojian Zhao and Edward J. W. Park’s three-volume Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History (Greenwood, 2014). Zhao and Park’s encyclopedia contains many more biographical sketches and only the excerpts of a handful of primary documents. There is not a lot of overlap of content aside for entries about the various Asian American groups which are written by different contributors. Danico wrote essays for both encyclopedias about the “1.5 Generation Asian American.”

Since Asian American Studies is a widely growing discipline, Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia would be a valuable addition to any academic library.—Megan Coder, Associate Librarian, State University of New York at New Paltz


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ALA Privacy Policy

© 2021 RUSA