Being interested in how Asian American communities operate according to or challenge representations of the racialized Asian identity, I will assume the position of a researcher with a social constructivist perspective. This assumption would be most appropriate because I strive to learn about the social conditions, cultural contexts, and historical formations that have impacted the experiences of the participants in relation to existing images of the different Asian minorities in the U.S. In addition to the social constructivist position, however, I am interested in how participants could interact with each other to make sense of each other’s experiences and negotiate new forms of representation imagined by them for the purpose of creating media representations empowering to the Asian diaspora communities. In order to engage in such a discourse and pedagogy, I will have to account for concrete agendas geared for cultural change. I must reflect on my own position as an advocate, facilitator, and participating agent of social and cultural change. I plan to be a part of this movement, which will be led by a community of mobilized Asian American artists and media practitioners.
To begin, I must identify a collection of media and artwork dealing with the issues of Asian American and/or Asian immigrant identities and communities. Critical analyses of both content and the form in which they have been presented will be necessary to form research arguments. Through this stage of the research, I plan to determine or at least find a better understanding of whether or not there is a viable “model” for alternative media dealing with particular racial politics regarding the histories of Asian diaspora communities. I will pose questions such as, what is the historical formation of this model or practice(s)? What social and cultural impact have these media works had on the communities for which they concern? What are the terms currently being negotiated in order to either reinforce or reform existing alternative practices?
Then, taking more of a participatory action approach, I plan to engage in a collective investigation on imagining a new set of alternative media artistic practices designed to mobilize Asian diaspora communities toward actively making social changes, particularly in regards to cultural perception and representation of the Asian identity(s). I plan to explore the research questions with activists, artists and media practitioners who are currently working on de-constructing and constructing images or representations of Asian minorities in North America. I would want to have active discussions on how we as practitioners can collaborate on developing a new model for alternative Asian Diaspora media/art. I would collect stories of the artists’ past experiences with different alternative modes of production (and viewership) as we construct a new narrative or discourse collectively. We could experiment on producing a media project (preferably audio-visual) or multiple projects to propose as examples for what could possibly motivate activism against racial subjugation of Asian Americans.
Specifically, I plan to conduct this participatory action research with a Korean American grassroots organization based in New York City. Willing members of the organization will participate in the research to share their own stories of being Asian American activists and develop methods or aesthetic/formal strategies to communicate understanding of their unique memories, experiences, and struggles. The participants would use audio-visual media tools to produce their own expressions of the displaced history of Asian American (in this case Korean American) activists. Then I would facilitate several sessions of discussions on how we interpret as well as analyze this particular set of art/media works. In this dialogue, participants would also discuss how these “texts” would serve to motivate and drive more people to support their causes and become a part of their activist community.
Documenting the Process
As the research facilitator, I will document all of the participatory processes by taking field notes and capturing audio-visual representations through video cameras and audio recorders. Additionally, the participants will be asked to engage in informal interviews and individual oral narration exercises, which will also be recorded audio-visually. Eventually, the captured audio and images will be edited into a short (20-30 minute) experimental documentary piece revealing the processes involved to gather, analyze, and represent data from the research. Participants will be informed of the documenting process and will be reminded that they always have the choice to withdraw from the recording sessions without penalty or losing their right to confidentiality and anonymity.