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Asian American Political Action: Suburban Transformations

James S. Lai
Asian American Political Action: Suburban Transformations
ISBN: 978-1-58826-724-5
ISBN: 978-1-62637-291-7
2011/279 pages/LC: 2010026516

"[Lai] brings a new theoretical perspective to the study of Asian American politics, and indeed, to minority politics in general. This is an important book, and one that scholars of minority politics will continue to reference for its depth of insight into the mechanisms of political incorporation."—Wendy K. Tam Cho, Political Science Quarterly

"An important story of change that impacts the whole of American politics."—Christian Collet, Perspectives on Politics

"A ground-breaking study, this book is essential to understanding the behavior of immigrant and ethnic communities in US politics."—Book News, Inc.

"Empirically rich with a solid analytical framework. The number of ethnic groups and communities examined is impressive, going far beyond other books on Asian American politics."—Leland T. Saito, University of Southern California

"A critical contribution to studies of the rise of Asian American political success in diverse suburban gateways."—Paul Watanabe, University of Massachusetts, Boston

"A major contribution to scholarship on political incorporation.... Highly recommended."—Choice


Where are Asian Americans gaining political power in the United States today? And how? Looking beyond traditional conceptions of immigrant political behavior in "gateway" cities, James Lai comprehensively analyzes how Asian Americans are not only winning elected office, but also sustaining representation, in places as diverse as California, Texas, Wisconsin, and Maryland.

Lai's multidimensional approach and vivid case studies illustrate both the unique characteristics and the political commonalities of Asian communities throughout the United States: their core populations, civic organizations, political leanings, and specific electoral challenges and successes. The result is a complex portrait of the breadth of Asian American participation in contemporary multiracial politics.


James S. Lai is associate professor of political science and ethnic studies at Santa Clara University. He is coeditor (with Don Nakanishi) of Asian American Politics: Law, Participation, and Policy.


  • The Suburbanization of Asian American Politics.
  • Political Mobilization and Incorporation: An Analytical Framework.
  • From Exclusion to Inclusion: The Four Stages of Asian American Politics.
  • Locating Contemporary Political Incorporation: The Suburb vs. the Metropolis.
  • Cupertino, California: A Pan-Ethnic Suburb in Silicon Valley.
  • Garden Grove and Westminster, California: Vietnamese American Political Incorporation in Orange County’s "Little Saigon."
  • Gardena, California: Two Generations of a Japanese American Majority City Council.
  • Montgomery County, Maryland: Emerging Asian American Suburbs in the Washington Beltway. 
  • Sugar Land, Texas: The Political Awakenings of Asian Americans in a Houston Suburb.
  • Bellevue, Washington: Asian American Politics in a Pacific Northwest Suburb.
  • Daly City, California: The Barriers to Filipino American Political Incorporation.
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin: The Political Rise of the Hmong American Community.
  • Fitchburg, Massachusetts: Political Incorporation of Asian Americans in a Boston Suburb.
  • Forging Ahead: The Future Political Trajectories of Asian Americans.