By Aihwa Ong

Fleeing the murderous Pol Pot regime, Cambodian refugees arrive in the United States as immediately the sufferers and the heroes of America's misadventures in Southeast Asia; and their encounters with American citizenship are contradictory besides. provider companies, bureaucrats, and employers exhort them to be self-reliant, individualistic, and unfastened, at the same time the method and the tradition constrain them inside phrases of ethnicity, race, and sophistication. Buddha Is Hiding tells the tale of Cambodian american citizens experiencing American citizenship from the bottom-up. in response to wide fieldwork in Oakland and San Francisco, the research places a human face on how American institutions--of well-being, welfare, legislations, police, church, and industry--affect minority voters as they negotiate American tradition and re-interpret the yankee dream.
In her previous ebook, Flexible Citizenship, anthropologist Aihwa Ong wrote of elite Asians shuttling around the Pacific. This parallel examine tells the very diversified tale of "the different Asians" whose direction takes them from refugee camps to California's inner-city and high-tech enclaves. In Buddha Is Hiding we see those refugees turning into new citizen-subjects via a twin strategy of being-made and self-making, balancing non secular salvation and entrepreneurial values as they suffer and undermine, take up and deflect conflicting classes approximately welfare, paintings, medication, gender, parenting, and mass tradition. attempting to carry directly to the values of relations and residential tradition, Cambodian americans still frequently think that "Buddha is hiding." Tracing the entangled paths of bad and wealthy Asians within the American country, Ong increases new questions about the shape and that means of citizenship in an period of globalization.

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Extra info for Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (California Series in Public Anthropology)

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Toward superiors they were deferential. ” 28 But because the links between different levels of the political system were tenuous, there was much local autonomy, and villagers were in effect clients of local officials. 29 Such vertical relations of patron–clientelism and personal deference were balanced somewhat in the villages by bilateral kinship ties and a KhmerBuddhist ethos of compassion that shaped male and female roles in kinship and community affairs. Anthropologists believe that societies with bilateral kinship systems tend to attenuate male domination while providing a source of informal power to women.

The can-do attitude is an inscription of ideal masculine citizenship; its legitimating power was perhaps sufficient to overcome the ugly stain of sexual harassment that plagued the judge’s confirmation hearings. To those who see a fundamental dynamic of exclusion along racial lines, the Thomas case is an aberrant one, the exception that proves the rule that has stacked the odds against the excluded racial minority. The assigning of racializing labels—model minority, refugee, underclass, welfare mother—is part of the racial classificatory process that, modulated by human capital calculations, continues to engender ethnicized subjectivity.

We did whatever we wished. Even if it was a disagreement over a single word, we would beat each other up. Men would beat up their wives if a meal was not tasty. . ” The men, we had authority over women. Whatever we said, the wives had to obey. Whatever the husband ordered, the wife must obey. The laws set the husband higher than the wife. The krou, who had formal training in Theravada Buddhism, added that Buddhist precepts do not give men the authority to control or beat their wives, but that Cambodians, like ordinary Thais and Laotians (with whom they share the religion), did not properly adhere to Buddhist doctrines.

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