E/RS lecture discusses anti-Asian fear

By: Henry Eden ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of books.google.com | Author Dylan Yeats visited Kennedy Auditorium to discuss the history of anti-Asian fear in Western society.

The latest installment of Xavier’s Ethics/Religion and Society (E/RS) lecture series brought a fresh take on a concept that has existed in Western society for years.

New York University (NYU) doctoral candidate Dylan Yeats visited the Kennedy Auditorium for a presentation regarding his book, “Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear.”

The book, which Yeats co-authored with NYU professor Jack Tchen, was published in early 2014 and uses a series of 90 artifacts throughout time to show the long history of Western fear of Asia and its people.

It also shows the changing identity and role that this fear has had in Western society.

Yeats described and explained a select few of these writings, images and pieces of art to demonstrate the different ways that “yellow peril” has existed in the West throughout time.

“Kaiser Wilhem II, who was the chancellor of Germany in late 19th century, coined the term yellow peril in 1897,” Yeats said.

Yeats added that term supposedly came from a dream that the Kaiser had in which the words “yellow peril” appeared alongside a flaming Buddha flying on a cloud across Europe, which he then had painted and distributed to the heads of state in several prominent European nations, as well as American President William Howard Taft.

The painting was one of the images that Yeats presented to the audience during the lecture.

Several other artifacts were presented, all with their own significance to the prevalence of Asian fear in the U.S. and Europe in different moments throughout history.

The most notable artifacts came from the time period starting with World War II and extending up until the 2012 U.S. election.

Following the presentation, Yeats opened up the floor to questions from students and discussion regarding the artifacts seen in the presentation and the book in general.

“Yellow Peril and Anti- Asian Fear” was the sixth and final lecture of the series in 2015.

The series continues in the spring semester with the E/RS interviews on sustainability on Jan. 27.