Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Representations, Racialization, and Resistance: Exploring Asian American Picturebooks, 1993-2018
by Yi, Joanne Heejoo, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2020, 404; 28262034
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative study explores representations of Asian Americans in picturebooks through a critical content analysis. While public interests in diversity and equity in children’s literature have increased in recent years, the nature of the publication growth of Asian American books for young readers is largely unknown due to the industry practice of conflating Asian and Asian American content and authorship. This study addresses gaps in literacy research by providing a comprehensive examination of 356 Asian American picturebooks spanning 26 years. In addition, this study uses data from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, including publishing rates and trends, to look beyond the texts at the systemic forces affecting children’s literature.

This study uses a conceptual framework grounded in Asian American Critical Race Theory (AsianCrit), which describes the specific mechanisms of racialization experienced by Asian Americans in the United States. To consider how Asian Americans are represented and racialized in picture books, the study focused on the following questions: (1) How are Asian American picturebooks represented, in regard to publication rates and trends over time, within the broader context of Asian Pacific (AP) and Asian Pacific American (APA) children’s literature?, (2) How are Asian Americans represented in picture books according to genre?, and (3) How are Asian Americans represented in picture books according to racial/heritage identity?

The major findings of this study demonstrate that Asian American picture books have been published in marginal numbers since 1993 and continue to be infrequently produced. While many Asian American authors and illustrators demonstrated resistance to racializing mechanisms in their texts, the picturebooks comprised limited genres that recurrently represented Asian Americans using stereotypical tropes, such as the forever foreigner and the model minority. The texts also largely conflated Asian American identities with East Asian identities, leading to a neglect and silencing of South Asian and Southeast Asian perspectives. The omissions of heritage identities, genres, and character roles revealed how racialized representations are constructed and maintained in picture books. Simultaneously, the need to increase the number of texts, genres, and perspectives in picturebooks suggests how advocacy efforts towards equitable representations may be directed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Adomat, Donna
Commitee: Daley, Sharon, Kunzman, Robert, Lewison, Mitzi
School: Indiana University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 82/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian American Studies, American literature
Keywords: Asian American, Children's literature, Picture books, Racialization
Publication Number: 28262034
ISBN: 9798557055161
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