Elena Shih and Lee Ann Wang

In a recent Clayman Conversations event, scholars explored the larger context of recent violence against Asian-Americans. The particular inequalities that impact Asian-American women are better viewed through a structural, cultural and historical lens, rather than a lens of personal prejudice and racism.

While immigration law and municipal licensing requirements seek to protect trafficking victims and monitor local businesses such as massage parlors, respectively, in practice these are modes of increased surveillance of women. Often, they do not result in heightened safety, or even increase harm, for those purported to protect. 

While some are encouraging AAPI communities to increase police involvement, local groups are promoting effective community-based safety strategies.

The historic legacies of the Vietnam war cast a long shadow. Soldiers created a demand for commercial sex tourism in Thailand, and U.S. officials encouraged the country to shift its economy from agriculture to tourism. This impacted generations of mass migration patterns and established a connection between Asian women and service sector work. The impacts of this imperialism continue today. 

Submitted by The Clayman Institute for Gender Research