Graham Bendickson MODEL MINORITY MyTH In her inaugural lecture, Riley argued that the myth of the model minority hardened a racial barrier between white Americans and Asian Americans and required political submissiveness from the latter.
That was the question that Nancy Riley, the A. Myrick Freeman Professor of Social Sciences, used on Thursday evening to launch her inaugural lecture, entitled “Producing Foreigners: China, Orientalism, and Asian Americans in U.S.
Racial Construction.” Riley, who joined the Bowdoin sociology faculty in 1992, received the appointment to the endowed chairship this past July.
At Bowdoin, she noted, she has sought to create arenas, such as her ongoing course “Asian American Experience,” for students to engage critically with the historical and contemporary dimensions of the Asian racial experience in the United States.
Riley focused specifically on how the cultural myth of Asians as the so-called model minority continues to shape the experience of Asian Americans today.