This introductory chapter presents the rationale of the book. U.S. blacks and Asians have long been variously situated in interrelation in the economic sphere of labor, the political sphere of citizenship, the social sphere of urban space, and the sphere of national culture. Thus, the book argues for the necessity of looking for a history of how struggles for Asian American and African American citizenship have been intersecting and divergent, and of examining how the juridical field of citizenship has consistently and coercively structured struggles and aspirations for national inclusion. By focusing on how Asian Americans and African Americans have engaged with discourses of U.S. citizenship, it becomes clear that the production of racial meanings is a relational process in which differential inclusions and exclusions are endemic to the institution of citizenship itself.
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