Yellow Peril! and A Is For Arab: Understanding Xenophobia

Thu, Feb 20, 2014 @ 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Admission: Free

This program is now at full capacity. No more RSVPs accepted. Thank you for your interest!



John Kuo Wei Tchen, Dylan Yeats (authors, Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear), Jack Shaheen (author, A is for Arab: Archiving Stereotypes in U.S. Popular Culture) and moderator Sewell Chan (Deputy Editor, Op-Ed/Sunday Review, The New York Times) will discuss xenophobia in America and the impact of stereotypical portrayals of Asians and Arabs in public perception and national policy. A book-signing session will take place afterwards. This panel discussion is presented as part of MOCACITIZEN, a signature public program series by MOCA, highlighting community, social justice, organizations, and the people dedicated to amplifying the voices that often go unheard.


The “yellow peril” is one of the oldest and most pervasive racist ideas in Western culture—dating back to the birth of European colonialism during the Enlightenment. Yet while Fu Manchu looks almost quaint today, the prejudices that gave him life persist in modern culture. Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear is the first comprehensive repository of anti-Asian images and writing, and it surveys the extent of this iniquitous form of paranoia.


A is for Arab: Archiving Stereotypes in U.S. Popular Culture features photographs of objects and materials from the Jack G. Shaheen Archive at Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, and documents U.S. popular culture representations of Arabs and Muslims from the early-20th century to the present. Jack G. Shaheen Archive, contains nearly 3,000 moving images including motion pictures, cartoons, newsreels, and televisions programs, as well as editorial cartoons, advertisements, books, magazines, comic books, toys, and games featuring anti-Arab and anti-Muslim depictions.



About the Authors


John Kuo Wei Tchen is a historian, curator, and writer. Professor Tchen is founding director of the A/P/A (Asian/Pacific /American) Studies Program and Institute at New York University, NYU and a founding faculty of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. He co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America in 1979-80 where he continues to serve as senior historian. Jack has just completed a critical archival study of images, excerpts and essays on the history and contemporary impact of “Yellow Peril” paranoia and xenophobia (Verso, Feb. 2014). He’s the senior historian for the upcoming exhibit on the impact of Chinese Exclusion Laws (1882-1968) on NYC, a 2014 New-York Historical Society exhibition with a film documentary by Ric Burns. His next book Chinaman! Exclusion & the American Promise (Scala & New-York Historical Society, 2014) will be published with the exhibit.


In 1991, Professor Tchen was awarded the Charles S. Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities (renamed The National Medal of Humanities). He is author of the award-winning books New York Before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 and Genthe’s Photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown, 1895-1905. He was co-principle investigator of the nationally-covered study “Asian Americas and Pacific Islanders Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight” (The College Board, 2008). He co-curated MOCA’s core exhibition: “With a single step: stories in the making of America” (2010) in a new space designed by Maya Lin.



Dylan Yeats is a doctoral candidate in History at New York University. He specializes in American history with a focus on the political demonology and structures of authority. He writes and teaches about American Politics, Asian American History, and Islamophobia. As a public historian and trained archivist, he has curated and consulted on numerous exhibits in New York City, where he also gives tours of Brooklyn as a licensed sightseeing guide.



Dr. Jack G. Shaheen's lectures and writings illustrate that damaging racial and ethnic stereotypes of Asians, blacks, and others injure innocent people. Shaheen, a former CBS News Consultant on Middle East Affairs,has also served as a professional film consultant on movies such as Syriana (2005) and Three Kings (1999).


Among Dr. Shaheen's awards recognizing his "outstanding contribution towards a better understanding of our global community" is the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2013) award. In cooperation with the U.S. Government, he has conducted seminars throughout the Middle East. Shaheen's new book, A is for Arab: Archiving Stereotypes in U.S. Popular Culture, features telling photographs of objects and materials from the Jack G. Shaheen Archive at New York University (NYU). The book and a special traveling exhibit documents U.S. popular culture representations of Arabs and Muslims from the early-20th century to the present. Both are about the need to build archives of aspects of American history, documentation, and culture which have not been dealt with. NYU's Shaheen Archive contains more than 4,000 images, including motion pictures, cartoons, and TV programs, as well as toys and games featuring anti-Arab and anti-Muslim depictions. For purposes of public education, these collections of visuals, media, and documents help people understand long historical patterns of how villainizing and criminalizing stereotypes of evil Asian others operate.


His other books are: Nuclear War Films, The TV Arab, Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, and GUILTY
Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs after 9/11
. Dr. Shaheen, an Oxford Research Scholar, is the recipient of two Fulbright teaching awards; he has appeared on national network programs such as CNN, MSNBC, CSPAN, Good Morning America, 48 Hours, and The Today Show.



About the Moderator


Sewell Chan is a deputy editor on the Op-Ed/Sunday Review desk at The New York Times. He joined the newspaper’s Editorial Department in 2011. He was previously a Washington economic correspondent for the newspaper, the founding bureau chief of the City Room news blog, and a local-news reporter, covering transportation and City Hall. Before he joined The Times, in 2004, he was a staff writer at The Washington Post, covering local government, social services and education in the District of Columbia and spending several months in Iraq in 2004. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal and for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he began his career as a summer copy-editing intern.

A native of New York City, Mr. Chan graduated from Harvard University with a degree in social studies in 1998, and received a master’s degree in politics from the University of Oxford, where he studied on a British Marshall scholarship, in 2000. He is a member of the board of incorporators of Harvard Magazine.