This article examines the history of the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA), the organization that in the late 1960s originated a new identity, “Asian American,” and a new social movement, “the Asian American Movement” (AAM). Despite its significance, the scholarly coverage of AAPA has been rather cursory. This essay presents the most extensively researched study of AAPA and is the first published article based on AAPA’s papers at UC Berkeley, the newly released FBI files on AAPA, and extended interviews. It develops the concept of “Political Asian America” that, as constituted by AAPA, embraces ideas that are at once pan-Asian and Third Worldist, local and global, and antiracist and anti-imperialist. The article examines AAPA’s politics and practices through (1) developing the concept of Political Asian America; (2) examining AAPA’s intertwined goals of Asian American liberation and Third World radicalism, while raising complex questions about the tensions in coalitional work when Asians and Blacks are racialized differently; and (3) studying AAPA’s internationalist politics that pivoted away from a domestic analysis of race alone. In addition, the secondary aim of the article explores a brief history of the growth of AAPA chapters to show AAPA infused themes of Political Asian America into the nationwide AAM. While short-lived, AAPA’s politics continued to influence Asian American activism to the present through the ongoing organizing of its former members and its ideas that traveled across time and space.

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