Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire

Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire (South End Press, 1997)

Edited by Sonia Shah

Still in print after more than a decade! The seminal collection of writings by Asian American feminists.

In Dragon Ladies, prominent Asian American women writers, artists, and activists seize the power of their unique political perspective and cultural background to articulate an Asian American feminist politics and to transform the landscape of race, class, and gender in the United States.

In sixteen critical essays, these writers draw on a wealth of personal experience and cogent analysis of Asian women’s relationships to immigration, work, health, domestic violence, spirituality, cultural production, and the media. From the global trade in Asian womenworkers to the elitism of the white feminist movement, no ground is sacred. These women warrriors don’t mince words but speak with fierce conviction and surprising insight.

This book showcases the growing politicization of Asian American women and their emerging feminist movement. It has been a vital contribution to women’s and Asian American studies, and is a must-read for Asian women and girls everywhere.


Delia D. Aguilar; Margarita Alcantara; Anannya Bhattacharjee; Kshiteeja Bhide; Grace Chang; Pamela Chiang; Milyoung Cho; Sayantani DasGupta; Shamita Das Dasgupta; Diane C. Fujino; Elaine H. Kim; Yuri Kochiyama; Miriam Ching Louie; Lynn Lu; Meizhu Lui; Leslie Mah; Sia Nowrojee; Juliana Pegues; Bandana Purkayastha; Shyamala Raman; Karin Aguilar-San Juan; Seema Sha; Purvi Shah; Jael Silliman; Julie Sze; Cheng Imm Tan; Selena Whang; and Helen Zia.

From a review on

Asian American feminism is a political hybrid linking very different cultures. “We all share the same rung on the racial hierarchy and on the gender hierarchy,” asserts Sonia Shah, the editor of this appropriately diverse collection of writings. In it, Shamita Das Dasgupta and her daughter, Sayantani Das Dasgupta, comment on both raising and being third-world activists in the American Midwest, teetering outside the approved boundaries of largely white feminist groups and the Indian community. Margarita Alcantara, editor of the zine Bamboo Girl; Leslie Mah, lead guitarist of Tribe 8; and oxymoronic moderator Selena Whang explode model minority images with a freewheeling round robin on issues and events facing self-identified queer, punk Asians. Community activists Bandana Purkayastha, Shyamala Raman, and Kshiteeja Bhide expound on their agency SNEHA, which embodies the contradictions faced by Asian American feminists trying to empower women while respecting cultural traditions. Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire is raw and powerful.

Honorable Mention in Gustave Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America’s Outstanding Book Awards 1997

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