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“Understanding Perceptions of Asian-ness and Group Membership among Asian Americans” by Jennifer Wu

March 17, 2021 @ 8:00 am 9:00 am JST

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Author: Jennifer Wu (Yale)

Abstract: This study aims to understand how perceptions of Asian-ness – specifically, whether some national origin groups are perceived as being “more” or “less” Asian – influences subsequent perceptions and preferences around the descriptive representativeness of Asian politicians. In particular, I focus on Kamala Harris, whose recent nomination and election to Vice President generated news coverage highlighting her multiple racial identities and emphasized the role of her Asian identity in promoting Asian turnout. To do identify the role of how perceptions of who is considered Asian affects the ability of racial- and ethnic-based appeals to promote turnout, I rely on a series of survey experiments that are organized to answer the following questions. First, I measure the perceived “Asian-ness” of different Asian national origin groups and Asian politicians. Second, I measure whether Kamala Harris is perceived as more or less Asian depending on how her racial identity is primed in campaign appeals. Finally, I measure beliefs around Harris’s ability to represent the Asian community and her favorability to test whether increasing her perceived Asian-ness also increases her perceived representability of Asian Americans. For comparison, I also include other Asian politicians who differ in their national origin background.

Discussants: Nathan K. Chan (UC, Irvine), Edward T. Chang (UC, Riverside), Natalie Masuoka (UCLA), and Sara Sadhwani (Pomona College).

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