Despite the turn toward diasporic, transnational, global, and comparative perspectives, this article argues that historians of Asian America have largely neglected and need to reflect upon inter-imperial relations—the relations of cooperation, competition, and conflict between empires, including subaltern attempts at creating spaces for maneuver and agency between them. With a focus on the development of the United States as an empire, this article identifies the key inter-imperial relations over time that have shaped the Asian American experience. An awareness of inter-imperial relations helps scholars to account for the political dynamics, the multiple sources of power, and the challenges to existing hegemonies that have structured Asian American lives. An approach sensitive to inter-imperial relations opens up the possibility of recognizing, and comparing, the simultaneous subaltern struggles that cut across nations and immigrant groups.

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