New Book Explores Asian Influence on the American Experience


Imagining Asia in the Americas2CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 8, 2016 – With an ever changing population in the Americas, being from another culture or part of the world can be hard — from the language barriers to everyday life processes.  However, the Americas have begun to change as well.

Dr. Debra Lee-Distefano, a professor of Spanish in the Department of Global Cultures and Languages at Southeast Missouri State University, has recently compiled a book to explore how the Asian influx has affected the Americas’ way of life. The book is “Imagining Asia in the Americas.”

“Essentially we are focusing on aspects of what it means to be Asian in the Americas,” she said.  “It is a collection of essays from many authors in the field that explore in depth the effect that people of varying Asian descents, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Gujarati, have had on religion, history, literature and many other of the American experiences. By America we mean from Alaska to Patagonia. Our goal is to demonstrate how heterogeneous our hemisphere is and to represent them as hemispheric citizens.”

The book was a collaboration between Dr. Lee-Distefano and Dr. Zelideth Rivas, professor of Japanese at Marshall University.

“I wrote the introduction and have shared the editing with Dr. Zelideth Rivas,” Lee-Distefano says.

The book will be out in September and will be available through Rutgers University Press for purchase online.

Lee-Distefano is from Doniphan, Missouri, and completed her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish  at Southeast and her Master of Arts and doctoral degrees from the University of Missouri- Columbia. This topic has been her passion since her dissertation. It was, however, her experiences at Southeast that truly sparked her interest in the topic.

“SEMO is what made me who I am.  It was my classes and my exposure to international students that helped shape me into the person I am today,” she said. “I will forever be grateful to SEMO for those experiences. Our goal is simply to expand knowledge.  That is what pushed us.”