A Model Minority? The Misrepresentation and Underrepresentation of Asian Pacific Americans in Introductory American Government Textbooks

A Model Minority? The Misrepresentation and Underrepresentation of Asian Pacific Americans in Introductory American Government Textbooks

by Okiyoshi Takeda, Aoyama Gakuin University

Asian Pacific Americans are a racial group that is often viewed in stereotypes, most notably, as a “model minority”—a view that this group is naturally hardworking and successful unlike “other” racial and ethnic groups. Quite often, they are also neglected as U.S. citizens, whose presence and influence in American politics are not acknowledged. This study of 28 college-level introductory American government textbooks investigates the extent to which and the ways in which Asian Pacific Americans are misrepresented and underrepresented. The findings show that many textbooks reproduce the model-minority stereotype of Asian Pacific Americans despite criticisms from scholars in Asian American Studies, although some textbooks caution against depicting them in this stereotype. In addition, this analysis reveals that textbooks fail to include important and appropriate information on Asian Pacific Americans and contain many questionable statements regarding historical facts about them. The study concludes that this situation is of concern and provides suggestions on how to improve current textbooks.

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This Educate-JPSE collaboration brings together articles published in the Journal of Political Science Education that discuss classroom approaches related to teaching about race, racism, social justice and civic action. Our reading list offers a range of materials – from syllabi, reading lists to active learning assignments – that discuss classroom practices through the lens of identity, gender and power relations. It includes a model for professors who are interested in partnering with local community activists to design civically engaged courses, with specific examples covering research and organizing around affordable housing issues. 

The Journal of Political Science Education is an intellectually rigorous, path-breaking, agenda-setting journal that publishes the highest quality scholarship on teaching and pedagogical issues in political science. The journal aims to represent the full range of questions, issues and approaches regarding political science education, including teaching-related issues, methods and techniques, learning/teaching activities and devices, educational assessment in political science, graduate education, and curriculum development.

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