Dispatches from the Symposium: Douglas S. Ishii

The Coherent Incoherence of Asian American Difference
By Douglas S. Ishii

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program Director Konrad Ng thanked the artists and authors of “Asian American Portraits of Encounter Between Image and Word” via remote introduction for their work that “sustains narratives critical to understanding the Asian American experience.”7 The term “Asian American” here suggests a shared experience across individual lives—the term coheres through its social value. By contrast, David Ward, one of the exhibition’s seven curators and symposium session moderator, explained to the audience that the curators made “Asian American” second to bringing . . .

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