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- This article deals primarily or exclusively with the definition of Asian in English-speaking countries, mainly referring to immigrants or descendants of immigrants living therein.
The term Asian<ref>"Asian". Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.</ref> is, literally, a demonym for people from Asia. In actuality, however, the meaning of the term varies by country and person, often being used in different manners to refer to people from a particular region or subregion of Asia.<ref>Aspinall, Peter J. Oxford Journals. Journal of Public Health. 2003. October 26 2006. </ref><ref>Lee, Sandra S. Mountain, Joanna. Barbara, Koening A. The Meanings of Race in the New Genomics: Implications for Health Disparities Research. Yale University. 2001. October 26 2006. </ref>
Synonyms include Asiatic<ref name="MESH"/>, or Asian Continental Ancestry Group.<ref name="MESH">United States National Library of Medicine. Medical Subject Headings. 2004. November 17, 2006.</ref>
Definitions in anglophone countries
In the United States, Canada and Australia, Asian refers most commonly to people of predominantly East Asian or Southeast Asian ancestry; however in the United Kingdom and Anglophone Africa, Asian refers most commonly to South Asians.<ref>Color Q World. Clarifying the Definition of Asian. 2005. October 1 2006. </ref><ref name=Oxford1>The New Oxford Dictionary of English. 2001. New York: Oxford University Press.</ref> Due to political lobbying by South Asians in the 1980s,<ref>Chandy, Sunu P. What is a Valid South Asian Struggle? Report on Annual SASA Conference. 1996. October 26 2006. way.net </ref> the U.S. census now groups South Asians with East and Southeast Asians, but this is not reflected in common usage.
In the US, Middle Eastern and Central Asian people are usually not considered as Asian people,<ref>Lee, Sharon M. Population Reference Bureau. Asian Americans Diverse and Growing. 2006. September 10 2006. </ref> though the term Asian originally referred to the ancient Near East. This term's modern application varies by region, but people described as Asian generally inhabit or have origins in the countries listed below (not including those of Southwest or Central Asia).
According to the definition that includes East Asia at 23.7%, the Indian Subcontinent at 22.5% and Southeast Asia at 8%, a total of 54.2% of the world's population would be included in this category.<ref>Brick, Gabrielle. News Voice of America. Asia - Home to Half the World Population - Is Graying. 2006. September 30 2006. </ref> The region to which the term applies includes the two most populated states in the world; the People's Republic of China<ref>CIA World Factbook. China. 2006. September 29 2006. </ref> and the Republic of India.<ref>CIA World Factbook. India. 2006. September 29 2006. </ref> The term Asian also includes the largest single ethnic group in the world, the Han Chinese.<ref>Genealogy Blog. 1.16 Billion Han Chinese Make up the World's Largest Ethnic Group. 2004. September 9 2006. </ref>
Definitions by country
- Main article: Asian American
For purposes of the U.S. Census, the term "Asian" is a race defined as "people who have origins in the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian Subcontinent. <ref name="USCensus2000Asian">Barnes, Jessica S. and Bennett, Claudett E. The Asian Population:2000. 2002. September 1 2006. </ref> Respondents can also report more specific ancestry, such as Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Laotian, Thai, Asian-Indian, and so on, including "Other Asian". Someone reporting these ancestries but no race will be classified as "Asian". Central Asian Americans were classified as "Asiatic" on the 1910 US Census which legally hindered their immigration along with other Asians. Central Asian Turkish Americans were the targets of anti-Asian hysteria during the "yellow race crisis".<ref>Arab American Institute. Not Quite White:Race Classification and the Arab American Experience. 1997. September 29 2006. </ref>
Template:Regions-Asia.png United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind 261 U.S. 204 (1923)<ref>PBS United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind 261 U.S. 204 (1923). 2000. September 1 2006. </ref> was a case in which the United States Supreme Court decided that Bhagat Singh Thind, a native of India, could not be a naturalized citizen of the United States, despite the fact that a number of anthropologists had defined members of the Indian subcontinent as being members of the Caucasian race. The ruling followed a decision in Takao Ozawa v. United States where the same court had ruled that a light-skinned native of Japan could not count as "white", because "White" meant "Caucasian",<ref>Find Law for Legal Professionals. Takao Ozawa v. the United States. 2006. September 1 2006. TAKAO OZAWA</ref> establishing White and Caucasian to be interchangeable terms for a single people of whom neither Japanese Americans nor Indian Americans are included.<ref>Assissi, Frank. Desparades. Are Desis White? 2006. </ref>
According to a social scientist Rosanne Skirble, the term Caucasian is becoming less frequently used in favor of White American or European American.<ref>Skirble, Rosanne. New Voice of America. 2001. September 4 2006. </ref> Although the restrictions on immigration and naturalization of East and South Asians were later repealed, the practice of classifying East and South Asians in an "Asian" category has its roots in this period. West Asian Americans were classified as White since they never constituted a large immigrant group that had significant physical difference from European Americans.<ref>Arab American Institute. Not Quite White:Race Classification and the Arab American Experience. 1997. September 29 2006. </ref>
According to Sharon M. Lee in her 1998 publication, for many non-Asian Americans in the United States (in 1998) Asian American means Oriental, Chinese American or Japanese American. This is due to the Chinese and Japanese immigrants being the first immigrants into the United States. Today, with the increasing demographic of Korean Americans, South Asian Americans and Southeast Asian Americans the definition among United States citizens of who is Asian American is expanding,<ref>Lee, Sharon M. Population Reference Bureau. Asian Americans Diverse and Growing. 2006. September 10 2006. </ref> but in common usage Asian has only additionally included Filipino Americans, Vietnamese Americans, and Korean Americans.<ref>Katsiavriades, Kryss. Qureshi, Talaat. English Usage in the UK and USA. 1997. October 26 2006. </ref>
- Main article: British Asian
In the United Kingdom, the term "Asian," though it can refer to the continent of Asia as a whole,<ref>Color Q World. Clarifying the Definition of Asian. 2005. October 1 2006. </ref> is more commonly associated with people of South Asian origin, particularly Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans.<ref>British Sociological Association. Equality and Diversity. Language and the BSA:Ethnicity & Race. 2005. October 26. </ref> Those of East Asian origin, such as the Chinese or Vietnamese (referred to as Oriental in the UK and the Commonwealth), are usually not included in the term. This is reflected in the "ethnic group" section of UK census forms, which treat "Asian" and "Chinese" as separate (see British Asian).<ref>National Statistics. Ethnicity. 2005. August 27 2006. </ref> Most respondents to the UK 2001 Census of non-Chinese East Asian and Southeast Asian descent chose to write-in their ethnicity in the "Other Ethnic Group" category rather than the "Other Asian" category, reflecting the association of the word Asian in the UK with South Asian.<ref>Gardener, David. Who are the Other Ethnic Groups. 2005. October 27 2006. </ref>
The United Kingdom, Anglophone Africa and Anglophone Caribbean are places in the Western world where the word "Asian" is used primarily to identify people from the Indian subcontinent. Of course, in Asia, the word "Asian" has a more localized definition when describing people by face, and is more inclusive when describing Asians by culture. Due to the term's contested definition in British English, the use of the term "South Asian" is used for clarity in discussions in the United Kingdom on colonialism, discrimination, and migration<ref>Aspinall, Peter J. Oxford Journals. Journal of Public Health. 2003. October 26 2006. </ref> or when the content of its parameters may become mistakenly conflated with those of East Asian descent. <ref>British Sociological Association. Equality and Diversity. Language and the BSA:Ethnicity & Race. 2005. October 26. </ref>
- Main article: Asian Canadian
In Canada, Asian refers to people from the Far East, Southeast Asia,<ref>Asian Canadian. 2000. September 29 2006. </ref> and the Indian Subcontinent.<ref>South Asian Observor. Asians take Longest Route to Enter Spain Illegally. 2006. September 29 2006. </ref> Like the United States, in Canada the term Asian generally refers to the East Asian Canadians since they were the first Asian immigrant groups into Canada.<ref>Aspinall, Peter J. Oxford Journals. Journal of Public Health. 2003. October 26 2006. </ref>
- Main article: Asian Australian
Notably, the Australian Census includes Central Asia, a region that is often considered to be part of the Greater Middle East.<ref>World Atlas.com The Middle East. September 30 2006. </ref> The Australian Census includes four regions of Asia in its official definition. Defined by the 2006-2011 Australian Census, three broad groups have the word Asian included in their name: Central and Southern Asian, South-East Asian and North-East Asian. Russians are classified as Southern and Eastern Europeans while Middle Easterners are classified as North African and Middle Easterners.<ref>Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups Second Edition. 2005. August 20 2006. </ref>
Anglophone Africa and Caribbean
In parts of anglophone Africa, especially East Africa and South Africa, and in parts of the Anglophone Caribbean, the term "Asian", though it can refer to the continent of Asia as a whole,<ref>Color Q World. Clarifying the Definition of Asian. 2005. October 1 2006. </ref> is more commonly associated with people of South Asian origin, particularly Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans.<ref>British Sociological Association. Equality and Diversity. Language and the BSA:Ethnicity & Race. 2005. October 26. </ref>
The United Kingdom, Anglophone Africa,<ref>Sinha, Gayatri. Diatribe or art? The Hindu. 2002. September 29 2006. </ref> and Anglophone Caribbean are places in the Western world where the word "Asian" is used primarily to identify people from the Indian subcontinent, although in South Africa, Asian can refer to East Asians as well.<ref>University of Maryland. Assessment for Asians in South Africa. 2003. September 29 2006. </ref>
New Zealand's census called Statistics New Zealand defines the Asian to include people of Chinese, Indian, Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Cambodian and Thai ancestries.<ref name=StatNewZealand>Statistics New Zealand. Asian people. 2006. December 4, 2006.</ref>
Statistics Norway considers people of Asian background to be people from all Asian countries, including Turkey.<ref>http://www.ssb.no/vis/english/subjects/02/02/20/innvutv_en/main.html</ref><ref>http://www.ssb.no/vis/samfunnsspeilet/utg/200604/10/art-2006-10-10-01.html</ref>
Orientals and the Orient
The term "Oriental" (from the Latin word for "Eastern")<ref>Cawley, Kevin. University of Notre Dame. Oriental. 2004. September 29 2006. </ref> was originally used in Europe in reference to the Near East. It was later extended to the rest of Asia, but came to refer to East Asians and Southeast Asians in the 19th and 20th century US,<ref>Hu, Alan. Model Minority. On Asian and Oriental. 1993. September 29 2006. </ref> where most Asians were Chinese (and later Japanese and Filipino). By the late 20th century, the term had gathered associations in North America with older attitudes now seen as outmoded, and was replaced with the term "Asian" as part of the updating of language concerning social identities,<ref>Bartleby.com The American Heritage® Book of English Usage. 2005. September 1 2006. </ref> which critics have derided as political correctness.<ref>Friedman. Haladina. The Politically Correct Handbook. 1992. September 1 2006. </ref>
The name Asia is probably derived from ancient Assyrian.<ref>Think Baby Names. Origin and Meaning of the name Asia. 2006. September 9 2006. </ref> It therefore originally referred to the regions now called "West Asia" and "Central Asia", the Sinai Peninsula to Persia and Asia Minor to Arabia. To the ancient Greeks, Asia usually referred to the Persian Empire, while to the Romans, Asia was a small region or, later, province at the Western end of Anatolia (now Turkey).
Clovis Maksound, Director for the Organization of Global South, argues that the term "Middle East" is a Eurocentric term denoting the region between Europe and East Asia, because it denies the Middle East's connection with Muslim North Africa.<ref>Katz, Elizabeth. Virginia Law. Democracy in the Middle East. 2006. September 9 2006. </ref> In English parlance, Western Asians like Turks, Iranians, Cypriots, and Arabs,<ref>Lee, Sharon M. Population Reference Bureau. Asian Americans Diverse and Growing. 2006. September 10 2006. </ref> and the Central Asians of the former Soviet Republics are not referred to as "Asian" by United States government agencies.
Ethnic Asians in Russia
Most of Russia's huge territory is in Asia, though the majority of its population is in Europe and ethnically Slavic. Depending on context, Russian people may be considered European or mixed according to their individual ethnic nationality, ancestry, or appearance. They may be considered European or Asian based on their current or recent place of residence or just by the state in which they happen to reside (and whether it extends into Europe or Asia).<ref>Lavelle, Peter. Weekly Experts' Panel: Could Russia collapse? 2005. September 1 2006. </ref> The word Eurasian is also often used to describe Russia's position in the world. See also transcontinental nation.<ref>Russia in Global Affairs. Russia as a European Nation and Its Eurasian Mission. 2005. September 30 2006. </ref>
Russians are generally not included in the term "Asian";<ref>American Heritage Book of English Usage. Asian. 1996. September 29 2006. </ref> one exception being the Kalmyks, the only Buddhist Asians living in East Europe in the republic of Kalmykia, which is a federal subject of Russia.<ref>Asian American Reading Home. A "Living Buddha" in Asian America: Looking for the Dilowa Gegen Khutukhtu. 2002. September 30 2006. </ref>
In normal usage Asian does not refer to the people from the Pacific Islands who are usually called Pacific Islanders.<ref>American Heritage Book of English Usage. Asian. 1996. September 29 2006. </ref> The term "Asians and Pacific Islanders" or "Asia/Pacific" was used on the 1990 US Census.<ref>Census '90. Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States. 1990. September 1 2006. </ref> As late as 2001, they were consided by most Americans to be the same racial group as Asians due to a perception of their implicit contrast to "whiteness".<ref>Lee, Sandra S. Mountain, Joanna. Barbara, Koening A. The Meanings of Race in the New Genomics: Implications for Health Disparities Research. Yale University. 2001. October 26 2006. </ref> However, in the 2000 US Census, many Pacific Islanders did not consider themselves the same social identity as Asians, and classified themselves separately.
Individuals classified as Asian
Three of the ten people who have been repeatedly ranked among the world's 100 most influential people by the American magazine Time are Asian. One is the Dalai Lama who made the Heroes & Icons section in 2005 & 2004.<ref>Time. Heroes & Icons. 2005. November 1 2006. </ref> The other two are Kim Jong Il and Hu Jintao who both appeared on the list in 2005 and 2004 and whose influence was recognized in the Leaders & Revolution category.<ref>Time. Leaders and Revolutionaries. 2005. November 1 2006. </ref> Time magazine also named Mahatma Gandhi the Man of the Year in 1930, and the runner-up to Albert Einstein as "Person of the Century" in 2000.<ref>McGeary, Johanna. The Time 100. Time 100 - Person of the Century Runner-Up: Mohandas Gandhi. 2000. October 31 2006. </ref>
Several other Asians have recently appeared on the list but only once. These include Yao Ming who was listed as among the Heroes & Icons in 2004, and Wu Yi who was recognized among the Leaders & Revolutionaries in 2004. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was twice Man of the Year.
Several Time 100 members have come from India including B.K.S. Iyengar who was recognized as one of 2004’s Heroes & Icons, Aishwarya Rai, the only South Asian woman to ever make the list, who was recognized as an artist and entertainer in 2004<ref>Time. Artists and Entertainers. 2004. November 1 2006. </ref>, and in the Leaders & Revolutionaries category Manmohan Singh and Atal Behari Vajpayee who made the list in 2004 and 2005 respectively.<ref>Time. Leaders and Revolutionaries. 2005. November 1 2006. </ref> Pakistan’s leader Pervez Musharraf made the list in 2006.<ref>Time. The People who Shape Our World. 2006. November 2 2006. </ref>
Aishwarya Rai is not the only Asian entertainer to recently make the list. Zhang Ziyi and Rain both qualified in 2005 and 2006 respectively.<ref>Time. The People who Shape Our World. 2006. November 2 2006. </ref>
In 2006, Time Asia magazine made a list of the most influential Asians in the past 60 years.<ref>60 Years of Asian Heroes. Time Asia.</ref> Besides those mentioned above, the list also included Freddie Mercury,<ref>Liam Fitzpatrick. Farrokh Bulsara. Time Asia.</ref> Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Aung San Suu Kyi, Corazon Aquino, Akira Kurosawa, Seiji Ozawa, Amartya Sen, Shigeru Miyamoto, Hayao Miyazaki,<ref>Tim Morrison. Hayao Miyazaki. Time Asia.</ref> José Rizal, Manny Pacquiao, Li Ka-shing, Muhammad Yunus, Lakshmi Mittal, Sachin Tendulkar, Jahangir Khan, Bruce Lee, Mother Teresa, and others.
- Amerasian — a person fathered abroad by U.S. servicemen to women of Asian nationalities
- Asian pride
- Asian Latin American
- Afro-Asian (Asian/African mixed ancestry)
- Eurasian (Asian/European mixed ancestry)
- Hapa — Hawaiian term commonly referring to Eurasians