Wirh persistence and inevitability, the past catches the present, just as the present always looks to possible futures. Given the fluiclity of memory and hope, and given the conditions of out age marked by the paradoxical movements toward increasing fragmentation and intensifying globalization, we still find value, even virtue, in collective identities. In [his essay, I approach the question and the viability of the category of religious experience by examining the fru itful associations between Asian American social experience and the concept of diaspora. The argument I make is that foregrounding race and diaspora-rarher chan simply immigration or ather New World nations-in our interrogations of Asian American religions clar~ ifies the existential predicament of Asian Americans. l In an attempt to iden~ tify the animating values and norms of this cultural identity, I explore what is involved in (he projecr of revealing the saered in Asian and Pacifie America.2 In my discussion of the spirited eontemporary interest in diaspora in Asian American smdies, I argue that the discourses of diaspora and race are indications of a religious impulse. The thesis is not that diaspora and race displace the putative religious identities of Asian Americans as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, and so on. Rather, (he hunch on which I am proceeding is that attention to (he dialectic of diaspora and race will pro~ vide a deeper understanding of the cultural, political, social, and economic eontexts of Asian American religious praetices. In other words, the co n sider~ ation of raee and Asian American diasporas begins to reveal forms of agency that constimte ways of being in the world {hat express the psychic and sp iri ~ mal effeets of the racial existence of Asian Americans. The racial logie that

animates Asian American lives, especially as mediated by diaspora and racism, revolves around the occupation by Asian Americans of what I call "ambiguous alterity". This is to say that Asian America represents the or an ambiguous other to both American and Asian nationalisms. I conclude the chapter with reflections on how ambiguous alterity, diaspora, religion, and the totem of race function as mediators of the suffering and hope of Asian Americans. The task is not to provide an umbrella concept for all Asian American religious practices. Instead, this interrogation of diaspora and race is an effort to layout a theoretical-and thereby formal-framework that begins to point to ways in which we can begin to integrate the study of Asian American religions and religious practices into the broader scholarship on ethnicity and race.