The UCLA Asian American Studies Center is sad to note the passing of long-time supporter Professor Alexander Saxton. In honor of his life and legacy, the Center Press presents to the public a complimentary copy of Saxton’s “The Indispensible Enemy and Ideological Construction: Reminiscences of an Octogenarian Radical“ from Amerasia Journal 26:1 “Histories and Historians in the Making” (2000).
The piece chronicles some of Saxton’s personal life and experiences as they influenced his path towards studying and presenting history with a strong sense of social consciousness.
He had served as chair on the Center’s Faculty Advisory Committee for 20 years and also was a member of Amerasia Journal‘s editorial board. His contributions to the Center and to Amerasia Journal, along with his tremendous impact on the fields of history and ethnic studies, are numerous and he will be definitely missed.
Please read the note below released by Center Director Professor David K. Yoo on Saxton’s passing which mentions many of the ways in which Saxton has left an indelible mark on the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.
UCLA History Professor Emeritus, and former Acting Director and longtime Faculty Advisory Committee Chair of the Asian American Studies Center, Alexander Saxton, passed away on August 20, 2012 in Lone Pine, California at the age of 94.
Professor Saxton throughout his time at UCLA was a staunch supporter and actively involved in the Asian American Studies Center, providing key leadership and mentoring many students over the years. Of his time at the Center, Professor Saxton said, “It turned out to be one of the most demanding (and rewarding) experiences of my life…. Being a proponent of Ethnic Studies at UCLA in the 1970s and ‘80s was good combat training. There still was big opposition to Ethnic Studies on grounds that ranged from blatant racism to lack of high academic principle. We constantly had to fight for approval for research funding and core courses, and we remained endlessly involved in struggles over initial appointments and tenure promotion for scholars committed to Ethnic Studies.”
A labor organizer and novelist, Saxton brought a depth of humanity and passion for social justice to his distinguished career as a historian. Among his many publications, Professor Saxton authored the pioneering, Indispensible Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (1975), one of the founding texts in Asian American history/studies. Professor Valerie Matsumoto commented: “Alex’s path-breaking book The Indispensable Enemy changed how historians thought about early Asian immigration and labor organizing. He was a brilliant, rigorous scholar, a generous colleague, and an inspiring teacher who mentored an enormous number of graduate students. When I arrived at UCLA, it was not always a hospitable place for ethnic studies faculty, and I will always be grateful for his friendship and support.”
In a special issue of Amerasia Journal (2000), Professor Saxton reflected upon his life and career in an essay entitled: “The Indispensable Enemy and Ideological Construction: Reminiscences of an Octogenarian Radical.” To read this article, please go the Amerasia Journal blog.
For additional information, see the History Department announcement.
The UCLA Asian American Studies Center is invariably richer for having known and worked with Professor Alexander Saxton whose intelligence and generous spirit brought so much to so many. He will certainly be missed, but not forgotten.
Edit (09/10/12): We are compiling some of Alexander Saxton’s obituaries and articles written on his life after his passing. Please see the below links for more insight into Professor Saxton.
New York Times: Alexander Saxton, Historian and Novelist, Dies at 93