Sylvia and “The American West”: Constructing Asian American Identity in Rock Springs, Wyoming

Julia Shizuyo Popham (University of Colorado, Boulder)

What does it mean to be Asian American? And what are the limitations of assimilationist aspirations particularly for a family that longs to be white? My project draws from a series of interviews I conducted with my grandmother, in which she relays her memories of growing up in Rock Springs, Wyoming in the 1930s as the daughter of two Japanese American immigrants. With an eye toward this year’s conference theme, my paper traces some of the ways in which my ancestors negotiated “Americanness” and “Japaneseness” at a time when dominant racial discourses deemed them “other.”

Part of 07-15 Sounding Board 3: Folklore Matters, Saturday, November 04, 8:30 am–10:00 am