AAS 312
The 626 Spring 2024
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed SOC 313
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Class Details

Ryka Aoki’s Light from Uncommon Stars is “a defiantly joyful adventure in California’s San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made doughnuts.” What sociological insight could a sci-fi novel about intense extracurricular pressure, food, and foreignness have to offer about the San Gabriel Valley, area code 626? In this course, we take the fantastical characters and plots of Aoki’s novel as an invitation to delve into the histories of Asian American settlement to Gabrielino/Tongva lands on the eastern fringes of present-day Los Angeles County. The multilingual boba shops, restaurants, and store fronts throughout the valley mask a history of violent backlash and English-only initiatives. Media reports of academic and musical prodigies skew a broader socioeconomic picture that includes crimmigration, deportation, and xenophobia. And the figure of an intergalactic refugee mother exposes the toll that crossing borders takes on individuals, families, and communities. In this project-based course, we survey the formation of a particular place and its surroundings. In doing so, students grapple with general questions such as: How does migration shape intergenerational dynamics? When and with what tools do people confront racism and intersecting forms of discrimination? How do ethnic enclaves form and fracture? And how do communities mobilize for political rights?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3944
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: thoughtful and consistent participation; mock film festival screening and vote; possible community partnership; regular writing assignments
Prerequisites: N/A
Enrollment Preferences: ANSO majors and AAS concentrators
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AAS 312 Division II SOC 313 Division II
DPE Notes: This course explores the making of the San Gabriel Valley as the "Asian American Holy Land." It delves into actors' diverse responses to the model minority stereotype, class, and belonging. Students will evaluate (pan)ethnicity as something to be explained, rather than explanatory, and consider the gaps between diversity and inclusion versus equity in the so-called majority-minority context of the 626.
Attributes: AAS Core Electives

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