Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Lisa Koch

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2022 Daenerys I Pineda


During the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hate peaked and came to national attention. Given the country-wide scope of this issue, a potential avenue for its address is through federal representatives, and particularly through those representatives who identify as Asian-American. This community’s political participation began long before 2020, and this thesis evaluates how Asian-American representatives have provided meaningful political representation in various situations for a national Asian-American constituency. For the purpose of this thesis, I define substantive representation as an action of a representative, using their particular political powers and privileges, in the interest of their constituents. I conduct three case studies of Asian-American members of the House of Representatives post 1970 on a variety of legislative issues, integrating a lens of intersectional feminism to compare the experiences of these three representatives. I find that actions that align with interest groups and/or explicitly reference an impact on Asian-American constituents, make for very clear examples of substantive representation. This picture may be complicated by the necessities of political strategy and coalition building. A representative’s success is also affected by racial and gender dynamics created by the norms and structures of Congress. Ultimately, the presence of Asian-Americans in the legislative branch does not matter so much as how they spend their time there. Critical evaluation of their actions will determine whether they actually provide substantive representation for Asian-American constituents.