Thursday, July 29, 2021
From the Bookshelves: The Trespassers? Asian Americans and the Battle for Suburbia by Willow Lung-Amam
A new book by sociologist Willow Lung-Amam describes the transformation of American suburbs (more specifically Silicon Valley, in Northern California) by the settlement of highly-educated professional Asian American families. These immigrant families increased racial diversity in the Bay Area suburbs and transformed the technology industry. It also changed the face of immigration from China, Taiwan, and India that had previously been driven by lower-wage work. The response to these newcomers among long-time community members in these affluent and mostly liberal places, and the urban places they left behind, was complicated.
The publisher's description says:
Trespassers? takes an intimate look at the everyday life and politics inside Silicon Valley against a backdrop of these dramatic demographic shifts. At the broadest level, it raises questions about the rights of diverse populations to their own piece of the suburban American Dream. It follows one community over several decades as it transforms from a sleepy rural town to a global gateway and one of the nation's largest Asian American–majority cities. There, it highlights the passionate efforts of Asian Americans to make Silicon Valley their home by investing in local schools, neighborhoods, and shopping centers. It also provides a textured tale of the tensions that emerge over this suburb's changing environment. With vivid storytelling, Trespassers? uncovers suburbia as an increasingly important place for immigrants and minorities to register their claims for equality and inclusion
Read an excerpt of the book here. A detailed analysis appears in this book review. I would add that the book is very readable and that its portraits of Fremont and its surrounding suburbs resonates with contemporary local politics and the landscape of schools, neighborhoods, and commerce in a thriving part of the country that is once again booming in pandemic times that depend so heavily on many technologies developed by these Asian immigrants.