The Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) has announced the upcoming release of its latest publication, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects. Edited by Theodore S. Gonzalves, curator of Asian Pacific American history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, this volume is scheduled to launch Nov. 7. The book offers a remarkable exploration of the experiences of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) through a thoughtful selection of 101 objects from across the Smithsonian’s vast holdings.
The book’s 11 chapters are organized thematically to represent wide-ranging, shared experiences: navigation, intersections, labor, innovation, belonging, tragedy, resistance and solidarity, community, service, memory and joy. More than a dozen colleagues from across the Smithsonian have contributed insightful entries that shed light on the significance of each object, ranging from a Hello Kitty bento box, symbolizing the “soft power” of a beloved pop culture icon, to the “Fight the Virus, NOT the People” COVID-19 banner, which highlights the ongoing struggles of AANHPI communities against racism and prejudice. Over 200 full-color illustrations provide compelling visual evidence of the stories and histories represented by these objects, including, among others, the immigrant experience, the significance of family and community, and the impact of popular culture and media representation.
As Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III noted in the volume’s introductory remarks, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects is “a feat of curation.”
“Through the careful examination of 101 objects across 14 Smithsonian units, we get a true sense of the incredible complexity and breadth of Asian, Pacific Islander and Asian American history,” Bunch said. “The narrative behind each object recognizes these histories as integral to both American history and the Smithsonian’s origin story.”
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects is published by Smithsonian Books.
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Rick H. Lee