Saving Face: The Emotional Costs of the Asian Immigrant Myth

Friday Evening Lecture Series

Please join us for a talk on, Saving Face: The Emotional Costs of the Asian Immigrant Myth, on Friday, April 1, 2016, from 6pm to 8pm, at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor, Room 6304.01, Manhattan. This talk is free and open to the general public, and is co-sponsored by the CUNY Graduate Center – Immigrant Seminar Series.

Tiger Mom. Asian patriarchy. Model minority children. Generation gap. The mainstream discourse has drawn on many generic concepts to describe the prototypical Asian family, which have given rise to two versions of the Asian immigrant family myth. The first celebrates Asian families for upholding the traditional heteronormative ideology of the “normal (white) American family” based on a hard-working male breadwinner and a devoted wife/ mother who raises obedient children. The other demonizes Asian families around these very same cultural values by highlighting the dangers of excessive parenting, oppressive hierarchies, and emotionless pragmatism in Asian cultures. In her new book Saving Face, Angie Chung shatters these one-dimensional portrayals of Asian families and reveals the emotional complexities of family relations in a changing economy through the eyes of adult-age Korean and Chinese Americans.

Based on the moving narratives of daughters and sons of immigrant families, Chung explores how the family roles American-born children assume in adaptation to their specific family circumstances have informed the way they view ethnicity and practice culture as adults. Although they know little about their parents’ lives, the author reveals how Korean and Chinese Americans assemble fragments of their childhood memories, kin-scripted narratives, and racial myths to make sense of their family experiences. Chung argues that this process of managing their feelings helps them to ease the emotional and economic strains of immigrant family life and to rediscover love and empathy through new modes of communication and caregiving. However, the book ultimately finds that these adaptive strategies come at a considerable social and psychological cost that do less to reconcile the racial contradictions and economic strains that minority immigrant families face today.

Angie Y. Chung is an Associate Professor of Sociology at SUNY Albany. Dr. Chung has served as visiting professor at Yonsei and Korea University and is currently the 2016 CUNY Thomas Tam Visiting Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her areas of expertise include immigration and the second generation, community and urban sociology, gender and family, race and ethnicity, Asian American studies, and qualitative methods. She is currently working on an NSF-funded research project on the politics of economic growth and urban redevelopment in Koreatown and Monterey Park, Los Angeles.

To RSVP for this talk, please visit Please be prepared to present proper identification when entering the building lobby.

If you are unable to attend the talk, streaming video and audio podcast will be available online the following week.

Thanks to CUNY AAARI for sharing this announcement.