An Update on Asian American Studies at Princeton

December 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

With so much related to Asian American studies happening behind the scenes this semester, we thought that it would be good to provide a summary of all the developments that are happening at the university to develop further course offerings in this growing field of study.

With no Asian American studies courses being taught at Princeton this fall, it can seem like the outlook for developing Asian American studies is bleak. The reality is, however, that professors and administrators have been busy behind the scenes working to develop Princeton’s offerings in Asian American studies. The commitment of the university administrators  to developing this field of study came through clearly during We Flourish: The Princeton Asian and Asian American Alumni Conference, which was held in October. President Eisgruber reiterated his commitment to developing Princeton’s offerings in Asian American studies, and a panel on the field of study was attended by Provost David Lee, Dean of College Jill Dolan, and Dean of the Faculty Deborah Prentice.

This spring, Jack Tchen, of NYU, will be a visiting professor with the Program in American Studies and will teach the course “AMS 362 Yellow Peril” on his recent work documenting the history of xenophobia in America. Jack Tchen co-founded the Museum of the Chinese in America (MOCA), a museum based in Chinatown, NYC in 1979. He is also the founding director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program at NYU.

Most exciting, however, is what is being planned for the 2016-2017 academic year. Besides Prof. Beth Lew-Williams of the History Department returning from a year at the Institute of Advanced Study to join Prof. Anne Cheng of English, American Studies, and African American Studies, Princeton will see a larger influx of professors teaching in Asian American Studies. Princeton has made an offer in their search for a senior professor in Asian American Studies, and the candidate will hopefully accept in the next few months. There will also be a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Asian American studies at the university during the 2016-2017 school year. Finally, the Program in American Studies is currently reviewing applications to fill two postdoctoral positions, each of which will last for 3 years, and at least one of whom will hopefully teach courses in Asian American studies.

All told, this means that there is a good probability that there will be 5 faculty teaching courses in Asian American studies at Princeton during the next academic year. The 5 faculty would allow Princeton to offer a record number of courses in Asian American studies. These courses would also be supplemented by current resources that exist to facilitate undergraduate research in Asian American studies. The Program in American Studies has the Eric Pai ’83 Asian American Studies Student Research Fund that will provide funding for thesis and JP research related to Asian American studies. AMS also has other funding sources available to help develop independent events and lectures in Asian American studies.

Finally, there has been work to make all of these changes permanent and institutionalized at the university. President Eisgruber has established a Strategic Task Force on American Studies that is examining ways to revamp the Program in American Studies as a site for exciting, interdisciplinary research. As part of this revamp, the Task Force is considering incorporating Asian American studies into the American studies curriculum, which would give Asian American studies its first institutional home at Princeton. Within the Program of American Studies, Asian American studies would have access to more resources to further develop course and academic offerings for the student body to ensure that a well-rounded, robust program emerges in the future.

The future of Asian American studies at the University is bright. We still have to remain vigilant, however, and ensure that the growth of this important field of study does not stall at Princeton. We cannot let the progress that we have made be reversed.

Still, for all those interested in Asian American studies this should serve as happy news!

-The Asian American Studies Committee of AASA

Early Notice: Rhacel Parreñas Talk

December 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

This is an early announcement that the Princeton University Center for the Study of Social Organization will be hosting a lecture by Professor Rhacel Parreñas on February 22, 2016. More information about the talk can be found at this link.

Professor Parreñas is currently a member at the Institute for Advanced Study. Her most recent research centers around the transnational migration of laborers from Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Report on Asian American Studies and Latino Studies Submitted!

April 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

AASA, along with PLA, submitted our report on Asian American studies and Latino studies to the Princeton administration on Monday morning! We are awaiting a response from the administration. Thank you to the 522 people who signed the letter of support! We will keep you posted on updates on the report’s progress.

April 20 is symbolic as it is the 20th anniversary of the sit-in for ethnic studies at Nassau Hall in 1995. At that time, 17 students held a sit-in at President Shapiro’s office for 35 hours. On Saturday, we invited back Ron Kim ’96, Chris Wheat ’95, and Cindy Wong ’96 to the University to speak about their experience taking part in the sit-in. More information will be posted about that event soon.

You can read the final version of our report here: 2015LAO-ASAMReportFinal4

Asian American and Latino Studies Report Error

April 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

In a previous version of the report released yesterday on the status of Asian American and Latino studies at Princeton, the authors stated that Professor Leheny had to be persuaded by the University to teach EAS 338 (“…one taught by Professor David Leheny, a specialist in Japanese politics who does not have research interests particularly focused on Asian America. Though we appreciate that Professor Leheny is teaching a course relating to Asian American studies, the fact that the University has had to persuade Professor Leheny to teach this course exposes the lack of professors at the University with interests relating to Asian American studies, particularly in the social sciences”).
In fact, Professor Leheny had previously taught a version of this course in 2012 and was more than happy to re-structure the course so that it would overlap with Asian American studies. We apologize for this error.
We still encourage you to sign our letter of support for our proposal. That letter of support can be found here.

The South Asian American Digital Archive

March 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

The New Jersey Historical Commission and the Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission are pleased to present the South Asian American Digital Archive, an event that will be held on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the East Jersey Olde Towne Village. The event will feature Isha Vyas, the Director of the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, and Samip Mallick, Executive Director of the South Asian American Digital Archive.

This is a free event, but registration is required. To register for this event, please click here.

Coming Soon: Colors of Confinement Exhibit

February 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

Colors of Confinement: Photographs by Bill Manbo, a new exhibit sponsored by the Program in American Studies at the Whitman College Gallery, will have its opening reception on March 11:


With the generous support of the George Sakioka Fund and Jacquelyne Hata Alexander ’84 P14 Fund for Japanese American Studies, we are proud to present a two-month gallery exhibit of rare color photographs by Bill Manbo, an internee at the Japanese American internment camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.  The opening of the exhibit in March 2015 will be celebrated with a public roundtable discussion led by distinguished scholars from the fields of law, photography, and performance studies.  We take the exhibit as an occasion for reflecting on this dark moment in American history and for opening up a larger conversation about the ongoing relationships among law, race, and visuality.

Unfound: The Princeton Journal of Asian American Studies – First Volume Published!

January 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

Unfound: The Princeton Journal of Asian American Studies has just published its first volume today!! You can find it at the link below.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the journal, we are ecstatic with how it turned out! We hope that this journal will bolster Asian American studies at the undergraduate level across the nation and to show the University administration once more how much this school’s undergraduates care about this field of study.

If you are interested in seeing more about this journal, check out