Stanford Lyman (1956)

Professor of Social Science, Florida Atlantic University

I entered the University of California at Berkeley in 1951, three months after graduating from George Washington High School in San Francisco.  I remained in Berkeley until 1960, obtaining a BA (sociology and social institutions, 1955);  MA (political science, 1957); Ph.D. (sociology and social institutions, 1961), and serving as lecturer in the Department of Speech from 1955-1960.  During my undergraduate years I switched to sociology as my major after doing a year as an economics major and finding that subject boring.  My courses with Blumer, Bendix, Selznick, Kornhauser, Lipset, Shibutani, Grana, and Bock provided me with a broad and deep knowledge of the discipline and its several contending schools of thought.  I was especially attracted to the historical sociology that was being espoused by Kenneth Bock.  He would serve as my graduate adviser, outside man on my MA thesis, and chairman of the oral examinations committee for my Ph.D. Thinking of my self as a "political sociologist", I decided to take my MA in political science. With the blessings of the sociology department, and with the assurance that I would return to sociology for my doctoral studies, I went across the hall of "Old South" and studied with Ernst B. Haas, Paul Seabury, Sheldon Wolin, and other political scientists.  My MA thesis, "The Impact of Germany on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization" was chaired by Professors Haas, Seabury, and Bock.  (Thirty-eight years later, It was published as Germany And Nato: A Study In The Sociology Of Supranational Relations, [Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1995] and awarded "honorable mention" in the "distinguished book award" competition conducted annually by the Mid-South Sociological Association).  I returned to the sociology department and, with the supervision of Kingsley Davis, Franz Schurmann, and Edward A.N. Barnhart, completed my doctoral dissertation, The Structure Of Chinese Society In Nineteenth-Century America, in 1961. (Twenty-five years later, it was published as Chinatown And Little Tokyo: Power, Conflict, And Community Among Chinese And Japanese Immigrants In America, [Millwood, NY.: Associated Faculty Press, Inc., 1986).
Since the completion of my doctoral studies my career has been peripatetic.  I taught in the department of anthropology and sociology of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, from 1960-63; directed the Liberal Arts Extension Division of The University of California, Berkeley, 1963-4; founded and chaired the sociology department of Sonoma State College [now University], 1964-68; served as vice-chairman of the department of sociology, University of Nevada, Reno, 1968-70; joined and taught in the sociology department, University of California, San Diego, 1970-2; accepted the invitation to become Professor of sociology and, later, of Asian Studies, and department chair, Graduate Faculty of Social Science, New School for Social Research, New York City, 1972-85; and was named Robert J. Morrow Eminent Scholar and Professor of Social Science, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, 1985-present.  I have also served as Senior Member, Linacre College, Oxford University, 1976; Fulbright Lecturer, Ryukoku Daigakuen and  Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan, 1981; Visiting Foreign Expert, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Peoples Republic of China, 1986; Co-director International Colloquium on Social Structure and Social Stratification, Dubrovnik, Croatia,  1986-present.  Under the auspices of the United States Information Agency, I have lectured in Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa. I presented papers at two of the World Congresses  of Sociology in Mexico City and Montreal.
My published researches include 25 books and about 100 articles in refereed journals, educational reports, essays and book chapters.  I have received four Distinguished Book Awards and two Honorable Mentions from the Mid-South Sociological Association, the George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, and recognition awards from the Chinese Historical Society of the United States,  The Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, The Japanese American Citizens League, and the American Association for Ethnic Studies. I am one of the founders of the Section on Asian/Asian American sociology of the American Sociological Association.  I have served as President of the Mid-South Sociological Association.
I believe the comprehensive education that I received at Berkeley provided the groundings and the bases for the development of my career in the discipline.  For this I shall be always grateful.
Stanford Lyman died of pancreatic and liver cancer on March 10, 2003.

From Armand Mauss: An Anecdote of Inspiration
I will always remember Stan with gratitude for serving as the catalyst for my very first publication. At the annual meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association in 1965, I presented a paper in a session where Stan was present. Afterward, he undertook to offer me some criticisms. As a complete rookie, I immediately became defensive in the belief that he was trying to shoot me down. However, in response to my defensive reaction, he softly replied, "Hey - I think it's a publishable paper already - I'm just suggesting some improvements!" Stunned, I recovered long enough to ask how one would go about getting a paper published. He pointed to the then-editor of the Pacific Sociological Review across the room (now Sociological Perspectives) and said, "There's the editor of the PSR over there. Go and ask him". I did so, and "the rest is history." I went on to publish four score papers or more, plus three books. Stan started it all off for me. Without him, I might have stayed with my junior college job indefinitely and never published anything. I had no idea that publication was possible for ordinary mortals like me! Thank you Stan, wherever you are : "May flights of angels bear thee to thy rest!".     

From Ivan Light: Nomination Letter for the Distinguished Career Award in International Migration
Roger Waldinger,
Department of Sociology,
University of California,
Los Angeles.
Dear Roger,
This letter nominates Stanford Morris Lyman for the IM Distinguished Career Award. Technically, it is not needed because Lyman was nominated last year. Therefore, he is automatically renominated in a successive year. In fact, Lyman was our number two candidate last year whom we passed over in part because, at 67, he is younger than Milton Gordon, last year's award winner.  Nonetheless, aware that documents are often lost from one year to the next, I have taken the liberty of recompiling Lyman's record for nomination.
My compilation focuses only upon publications that deal with Asians in America. These publications constitute the core of Lyman's contribution to the sociology of international migration. The attachment  ("Lyman.S") lists Lyman's publications on the topic of Asian Americans. The earliest is dated 1961; the most recent 1997. The list contains his seminal doctoral dissertation, nine books, and one article. I have listed the chapters in four books separately as articles in order to display their Asian American content. These chapters were originally published as articles in refereed journals; but they were subsequently combined in edited books to facilitate access. There is really only one article that was never published in book form.  
The chronology shows that Lyman's interest in Asian Americans has been continuous throughout his professional life. True, in the last 20 years, many others have shared this interest. Prior to that, however, Lyman was the first sociologist who undertook serious historical and theoretical  scholarship on this topic. Of course, he had able forebears. Frank Miyamoto's Social Solidarity among the Japanese in Seattle (1939) was a great community study that made sociological sense of the Japanese community, probably for the first time. The accomplishment was the more memorable in view of the war clouds that were then gathering.   Rose Hum Lee deserves credit for providing a historical account of Chinese in America. But Lee's main publication, The Chinese in the United States of America, was principally interested in bringing Chinese American contributions to American history to the attention of Americans of Chinese descent. Paul Siu's superb 1953  dissertation on the Chinese laundryman brought this then common American icon under the theoretical umbrella of Chicago School sociology. That was a splendid contribution, but Siu's ambitions were limited.  In contrast.  Lyman's massive 1961 dissertation,  much later published in book form as Chinatown and Little Tokyo: Power, Conflict, and Community among Chinese and Japanese Immigrants to America (1986) analyzed the social organization of nineteenth century Chinese and Japanese communities in the USA in a work of prodigious, comparative scholarship.  Drawing on Park, Weber, and Simmel, this scholarship put the comparative historical experience of Chinese and Japanese Americans on the serious research agenda of American sociology in a way that previous efforts, very meritorious in themselves, had not accomplished. It is no exaggeration to observe that Stanford Lyman was the father of Asian American studies, but that statement does not do justice to his contribution to the field of international migration. It is not simply that Lyman's work opened up the unexplored history of Chinese and Japanese in the United States for research and scholarly analysis; Lyman framed this historical experience in terms that improved the general level of scholarship on immigration. His interest in structures of community opened the way for subsequent inquiries into non-Asian immigrant communities. The strategic role of what current Mexican American research now calls "home town associations" was first fully explicated in Lyman's 1961 dissertation on Chinese and Japanese.
Because he was such an early pioneer of Asian American research, Lyman confronted a professional sociology that did not then understand the importance of his historical and theoretical contribution.  Now we do; then we did not.  It is easy now to study and research that subject; then it was not easy. Moreover, that we now understand the importance of Asian American immigration owes much to the shoulders of Stanford Lyman onto which later sociologists climbed for a better view.   It is, of course, true that the immigration of Asians to the USA since 1970 has increased the visibility and salience of Asians in American society, thus increasing the significance of their history. Without that real and current immigration of Asians, Lyman's comparative studies of nineteenth century Chinese and Japanese communities would have less practical significance now than in fact they do. On the other hand, thanks to Lyman, when Asian immigration resumed after 1970, and sociological interest accelerated, sociology had a superb understanding of the early history of the Chinese and Japanese in America. This strong base permitted research to proceed apace in response to renewed interest. For many years Lyman's work was the arcane source, known to the cognoscenti,  from which departed what we now identify as classic research into Asian American society.
One should recall that in 1961 when Lyman's career began, there were few persons of Chinese or Japanese descent who were professional sociologists. Now there are many; then there were few.  Lyman was, however, neither a tourist nor a curiosity seeker. Although a non-Asian, Lyman actually began his research into Asian American history and sociology as a student in San Francisco's Galileo High School, which is still Chinatown's public secondary school. Hanging around with Chinese and Japanese friends after school, Lyman acquired a knowledge of, interest in, and love for them and their communities. This basis sustained and animated his subsequent professional rendez-vous with their history. This  human interest story offers a little vignette of American history that I happen to know as a result of conversations with Stanford Lyman, and I am glad that it can now be recorded in the official record as a small counter-weight to the otherwise lamentably common American practice of marginalizing Asian Americans.
When IM makes a distinguished career award, we evaluate the scholarly impact of the nominee's scholarly work. This is a job only scholars can do as they alone understand where the ideas came from that now bedeck and adorn the mentality of journalists and media pundits. John Maynard Keynes once remarked that crackpot ideas spouted by "madmen in authority" were originally deposited on the page by unknown scribblers.  As scholars, it behooves us to note that scribblers sometimes have good ideas too.   If we ask, where would the sociology of immigration be today without Asian American studies, we conclude appropriately that it would be depleted and inferior. In that sense, Lyman's seminal contribution to Asian American sociology has earned our gratitude as well as this official IM recognition, the distinguished career award.
Yours truly,
Ivan Light
Professor of Sociology

Dissertation Title
The Structure of Chinese Society in 19th Century America
Dissertation Book Title
Chinatown and Little Tokyo : power, conflict, and community among Chinese and Japanese immigrants in America
Millwood, N.Y.