Abstract – The Color of Patriotism: Asian American Military Service and U.S. Citizenship

Hi! My name is Yosselin Turcios and I am a freshman at the College of William and Mary. I plan on majoring on Kinesiology and Health Science concentrating in Public Health and minoring in Psychology. This summer I will be assisting Professor Sohoni on his research concerning the legal obstacles foreign-born Asian Americans faced when trying to gain citizenship after serving the U.S. military during World War II.

My summer research will aim to answer the essential question of, ‘‘who is worthy of being a citizen?’ – is citizenship something that can be earned through certain actions or simply based on where you are born? Specifically, I am interested in how this question applies to foreign born Asian Americans who fought during World War II (WWII) and sought United States citizenship shortly thereafter. To do so, I will consider how race is a factor in our conception of citizenship and furthermore, how race is often used to exclude certain groups from attaining citizenship. Asian Americans were one of the first groups to be targeted and excluded from national membership which makes studying how this group attained citizenship of particular interest (Hing 1993). Additionally, the large number of Asian Americans who participated in WWII caused a major conflict in our understanding of citizenship, as many who fought were foreign-born Asian Americans, but displayed immense patriotism through their involvement in the war. This conflict has been the subject of much of Professor Sohoni’s research and the goal of my research this summer will be to build off of this work, and improve our understanding of the historical context in which these dynamics of citizenship played out in. Specifically, I will help with transcribing audio interviews of Asian Americans who served during World War II from the Library of Congress and National Archives Veteran Service Records. I will assist in collecting primary information to create a history of Asian American participation in WWII.

Hing, Bill Ong. 1993. Making and Remaking Asian America Through Immigration Policy, 1850-1990. Standford: Standford University Press.