Russian-Americans are Asian-Americans, right?

Russian-Americans are by definition Asian-Americans, right? Or is Russia not part of Asia?

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Comment by Ed on June 2, 2015 at 10:26pm

A Russian is an Asian geographically. Why the question?

Comment by Davis Goodman on June 3, 2015 at 7:10am

Dividing Russia and Asia into two is about as arbitrary a division as it gets. At least South America is divided by a tiny little strip of land and Africa hangs on also by a super tiny strip as well.

Difficult cultures (even within Euroe) divide the land mas differently). For some, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are included in Europe and for others it is not. Some use the Black sea and the Ural mountains as a dividor. The first divider is more of a cultural divide (white, christian Europeans with similar culture, architecture etc.) and the second part is a conventient geographical feature (a chain of mountains that runs North). White Russians immigrated West of those mountains but hundreds of the minorities, like GM mentioned (especially non-christian and non-white) also live(d) there natively...and there are also non-white-christian groups inside the European half (West of the mountains). 

A small amount of Russians immigrated over the bearing sea to what is now Alaska, Washington State, Oregon and Hawaii. They lost part of it and sold all of the rest to the US. Their colonisation was very small and they left little to remember them by. Is this what you means by Asian Americans?

Comment by Andy Hoke on June 3, 2015 at 9:57am

GM, you are kind of getting at my point, by saying that at a certain point, the distinctions really aren't meaningful.

I had the thought as I was applying for jobs. I started checking the Asian-American box because I thought, 'Hey I'm probably part Russian.' At least in searching for a job, I just got really frustrated with race always counting against me.

A different take on the same subject, how about all the white people born and raised in Africa but then move to America. Are they Afircan-americans?

It's impossible to live your life without checking these boxes, but as time goes on, the box you check seems to result in arbitrary bureaucratic stupidity. So I'm sorry to report that I think this is a practical question. It's so western to categorize, to pigeonhole. I think western society relies on categories and labels too much.

Comment by Ed on June 3, 2015 at 3:28pm

"A different take on the same subject, how about all the white people born and raised in Africa but then move to America. Are they Afircan-americans?"

If you were born in Africa you are African. You will always be African ethnically regardless of where you live. If you move to America I don't believe you could consider yourself African American, maybe if you achieve citizenship. African Americans are normally those individuals born in America who have an ancestry/family background originating from the African continent.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on June 3, 2015 at 4:04pm

Is a job application form permitted to ask about your “race” (or religion)?

Comment by Dr. Bob on June 3, 2015 at 7:48pm

Traditionally, Russia would be considered European.  That is to say, historical Russia had its ties to Europe, and Russians are ethnically and culturally European.   You have to remember that most of modern Russia in Asia is very sparsely populated.

Since when we're talking about an individual being Russian-American we're talking about ethnicity rather than geography, I would call a Russian-American a European-American unless they told me differently, or I knew them well enough to know that they came from somewhere like Kamchatka Krai.

Comment by Unseen on June 3, 2015 at 9:37pm

I believe Russia has one foot in Europe and one in Asia. The further East you go in Russia, the more Asian in appearance and culture they are, with the reverse being the case in the Western end of Russia, which is much more European.

A lot of European Russians show evidence of intermarriage with a vaguely Asiatic tinge to their appearance like the actress Olga Kurylenko (below). Others are so un-Asiatic they could pass for Irish.

Comment by Pope Beanie on June 3, 2015 at 9:50pm

Purely anecdotal: A few hundred job applications have crossed my desk over the years. Few volunteered information about race. Most of those who did volunteer it were white. I'm not sure why.

You don't think maybe it's because they fear prejudice?

Comment by Davis Goodman on June 3, 2015 at 10:25pm

White russian who live in Vladivostok (not far from Korea) most certainly don't consider themselves Asian...even those who are second, third, fourth generation. There has been minimal inter-mixing. They consider themselves Europeans. Though when you say European that comes with a disclaimer...they are Russian Europeans. The "Asian" influence is actually very minimal except for small things like a few dishes they eat, some of the chord patterns in their music and a small amount of their vocabulary. Geographically they are Europe and Asia but culturally they are white European russians with their own unique variation of Europeaness...and then there are Caucasians, Turks, Inuits, Persians, Finic and a plethora of other minorities who are also either European or Asian.

Russia and the rest of Europe have always been semi-different and this is very much the case now with very notable diverging politics, values and culture. There truly is a mini-clash of civilizations as the Russian sphere diminishes more and more. It's actually painful to watch this divide grow...but in the end it's up to Russians to define who and what they are...and they have dicided to still maintain a notable variation of the continuum of European culture.

Comment by Davis Goodman on June 3, 2015 at 11:02pm


This is a density map. You can see how sparsely populated the Asian side is (75% of the land mass with much less the population) as per what GM said. You can easily go 500km down a road (or what passes for a road) without crossing a village let alone a town or city. Apart from the narrow path Russia carved out through the forest and a line of towns on the way...much of the development came from Soviet industry building...forcing people to move out into Siberia (or into labour camps). Vladivostok is the Area at the far right close to Japan/Korea. They are closer to Asia and even North America than to Europe...yet those who settled maintained their Russian-European heritage regardless of mixing with "locals". When Stalin was at his nastiest...he deported or exterminated most of the indiginous population or other cultures who settling the area including Chinese, Koreans, Turks, Inuit, Finnic, Mongolian, Indo-Iranian, Japonic and other minorities. There are exceptions in the centre where minority-centric-autonomous-republics exists, though they have been rather Russianised in their daily lives. Must of Asian russia is cold unforgiving ice waste. It is nothing short of a miracle that they managed to colonise some of it and create a path Eastward during the 18th and 19th century...and still maintain absolute contact with Moscow/St. Petersburg as well as their culture and language.

So if a white russian from Vladivostock moves to San Francisco...he may geographically have been Asian and now American...culturally he is a "Russian-European-who-lived-in-Asian-Russia"-American.

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