Friday, November 26, 2010

So If I Published An Article in Taiwan 20 Years Ago Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me?

In my younger days when I had much more free time, I had a strong interest in the history of Chinese-Americans. Not to say that I have lost interest in the subject, but I just haven't had time for much outside reading, and certainly no time for any research or deep study for many years. I was fortunate that I was in college when the very first Asian American studies courses were just being offered back in the late 1960s. What made it so fortunate was that there was no developed body of works on the topic, which enabled the most inexperienced amateur scholars, e.g., college undergraduates, to pioneer the study of their topic of interest. In my case, it was two topics--the history of Los Angeles Chinatown, and the Chinese exclusion laws passed by the U.S. government starting in the 1880s that particularly attracted my interest. So even though I was an economics, business and law student, I was able to publish a number of articles in ethnic publications having a miniscule circulation, and even appeared on radio, television, and at conferences and other events as an "expert" on the subject. The most laughable instance was a presentation before a program sponsored by the Los Angeles School District on the USC Campus on Asian American studies. Representing the Japanese-American viewpoint, was Dr. Harry Kitano, Professor of Social Welfare at UCLA, author of hundreds of books and articles. Representing the Chinese-Americans was myself, senior tax accountant at Kenneth Leventhal & Company.

On a couple of occasions since then I had actually run into current scholarly works on Chinese American studies that mentioned one of my prior articles in the text and footnotes. However, it wasn't until today that I decided to try to see if there were any other references to items I had authored. With a name as common as mine (there are hundreds of people with my name on Facebook), I had never bothered Googling myself. However, it occurred to me that I could do a focused Google search with my name and part of the title of some of my written works. Imagine my surprise when I did one of the searches and it pulled out an article about Los Angeles Chinatown I had written in the 1980s for the Chinese-American historical society--but described as appearing in "Sino-American Relations (Hwa Kang, Taiwan) 16, no.4 (Win 1990 54-66)". Did somebody in Taiwan appropriate that article without telling me? Is the Internet reference in error? Was it translated to Chinese? I guess I'll never know for sure.

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