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Asian Pacific Studies

A guide for CSUDH students taking Asian Pacific Studies courses.

Primary sources in Asian Pacific Studies

For many researchers in Asian Pacific Studies, primary sources are essential resources for incorporating the ideas and knowledge of those who are traditionally excluded from academic conversations due to systemic racism, sexism, ableism, queerphobia, and other forms of oppression. Many cultures have rich oral, artistic, and literacy traditions not represented in euro-centric research undertaken from a colonial framework. Primary sources can be used to contextualize research in the experiences of real people and center the voices of the unheard.

Primary Sources

A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects. Interviews, surveys, fieldwork, and Internet communications via email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups are also primary sources.

Read more about primary v. secondary sources >>

When would I need to find primary sources? If you're working on a history project, you may be asked to find and cite primary sources to analyze something from the past, like posters from political activism in modern African history. If you're working on a sociology project, you may be asked to find demographic data on homeless in Los Angeles. Both documents would be considered primary sources in each case.

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Online Archives of Primary Sources for Asian Pacific Studies