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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

October 29, 2010

Written by C.N.

The Real Life of a College Professor

A colleague sent around a link to the video below. It doesn’t focus specifically on Asian Americans or racial minorities, but certainly captures the sentiments that many college professors have. Plus, as my students would write, it had me ROTF and LMAO.

October 27, 2010

Written by C.N.

New Books: Asian American Assimilation, Then and Now

As part of this blog’s mission of making academic research and data more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience and to practical, everyday social issues, I highlight new sociological books about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

Across our different ethnicities, occupations, generations, and experiences, one topic that continues to be a popular subject of discussion among Asian Americans is the process of assimilation. As these recently-released books help to illustrate how, to fully understand this concepts, we have to connect the past with the present, historical with contemporary examples.

Japanese War Brides in America: An Oral History, by Miki Ward Crawford, Katie Kaori Hayashi, and Shizuko Suenaga (Praeger Publishing)

Japanese War Brides in America, by Crawford, Hayashi, and Suenaga

Following the end of World War II, Congress passed the War Brides Act of 1945, which allowed foreign wives of U.S. military personnel to immigrate to the United States. However, with the ban of Asian immigration after World War II, the sudden influx of thousands of women created social tension while opening up one of the country’s largest cross-cultural integrations.

This book reveals the stories of nineteen Japanese war brides whose assimilation into American culture forever influenced future generations, depicting love, strength, and perseverance in the face of incredible odds. With an estimated 50,000 women who migrated from Japan to the U.S. during 1946-1965, they all hold a unique place in American history and have been called ambassadors to the U.S. For the first time in English these women share their triumphs, sorrows, successes, and identity in a time when their own future was tainted by social segregation.

This oral history focuses mainly on women’s lives during World War II and the occupation of Japan. It illuminates the cultural expectations, the situations brought about by the war, and effects of the occupation, and also includes quotes from various war brides regarding this time. Chapter interviews are set up in chronological fashion and laid out in the following format: introduction of the war bride, how she met her husband, her initial travels to America, and life thereafter. Where needed, explanations, translations, and background history with references are provided.

Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, by Erika Lee and Judy Yung (Oxford University Press)

Angel Island, by Lee and Yung

From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island immigration station in San Francisco served as the processing and detention center for over one million people from around the world. The majority of newcomers came from China and Japan, but there were also immigrants from India, the Philippines, Korea, Russia, Mexico, and over seventy other countries. The full history of these immigrants and their experiences on Angel Island is told for the first time in this landmark book, published to commemorate the immigration station’s 100th anniversary.

Based on extensive new research and oral histories, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America examines the great diversity of immigration through Angel Island: Chinese “paper sons,” Japanese picture brides, Korean refugee students, South Asian political activists, Russian and Jewish refugees, Mexican families, Filipino workers, and many others. Together, their stories offer a more complete and complicated history of immigration to America than we have ever known.

Like its counterpart on Ellis Island, the immigration station on Angel Island was one of the country’s main ports of entry for immigrants in the early twentieth century. But while Ellis Island was mainly a processing center for European immigrants, Angel Island was designed to detain and exclude immigrants from Asia. The immigrant experience on Angel Island-more than any other site-reveals how U.S. immigration policies and their hierarchical treatment of immigrants according to race, ethnicity, class, nationality, and gender played out in daily practices and decisions at the nation’s borders with real consequences on immigrant lives and on the country itself.

Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila: Family, Identity, & Culture: 1870-1925, by Richard T. Chu (Brill Publishing)

Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila, by Richard T. Chu

Building on works in Chinese transnationalism and cultural anthropology, this book examines the everyday practices of Chinese merchant families in Manila from the 1860s to the 1930s. The result is a fascinating study of how families and individuals creatively negotiated their identities in ways that challenge our understanding of the genesis of ethnic identities in the Philippines.

Hmong America: Reconstructing Community in Diaspora, by Chia Youyee Vang (University of Illinois Press)

Hmong America, by Chia Youyee Vang

The first scholarly work to come from inside the Hmong community, Hmong America documents Chia Youyee Vang’s own migration from Laos to Minnesota at age nine and the transformations she has witnessed in Hmong communities throughout the migration and settlement processes. Vang depicts Hmong experiences in Asia and examines aspects of community building in America to reveal how new Hmong identities have been formed and how they have challenged popular assumptions about race and ethnicity in multicultural America.

With an approach that intermingles the archival research of a historian, the personal experiences of a refugee, and the participant-observer perspectives of a community insider, Vang constructs a nuanced and complex portrait of the more than 130,000 Hmong people who came to the United States as political refugees beginning in the mid-1970s. She offers critiques of previous representations of the Hmong community and provides the sociological underpinnings for a bold reassessment of Hmong history in the greater context of globalization.

This new understanding redefines concepts of Hmong homogeneity and characterizes ordinary Hmong migrants not as passive victims but as dynamic actors who have exercised much power over their political and social destinies. While Vang focuses on the Hmong community in the Twin Cities, she also has conducted research in numerous Hmong enclaves in the United States and abroad.

The Intimate University: Korean American Students and the Problems of Segregation, by Nancy Abelmann (Duke University Press)

The Intimate University, by Nancy Abelman

The majority of the nearly 28,000 undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign–including a large population of Korean American students–come from nearby metropolitan Chicago. Among the campus’s largest non-white ethnicities, Korean American students come to college hoping to realize the liberal ideals of the modern American university, in which individuals can exit their comfort zones to realize their full potential regardless of race, nation, or religion. However, these ideals are compromised by their experiences of racial segregation and stereotypes, including images of instrumental striving that set Asian Americans apart.

In The Intimate University, Nancy Abelmann explores the tensions between liberal ideals and the particularities of race, family, and community in the contemporary university. Drawing on ten years of ethnographic research with Korean American students at the University of Illinois and closely following multiple generations of a single extended Korean American family in the Chicago metropolitan area, Abelmann investigates the complexity of racial politics at the American university today.

Racially hyper-visible and invisible, Korean American students face particular challenges as they try to realize their college dreams against the subtle, day-to-day workings of race. They frequently encounter the accusation of racial self-segregation–a charge accentuated by the fact that many attend the same Evangelical Protestant church–even as they express the desire to distinguish themselves from their families and other Korean Americans. Abelmann concludes by examining the current state of the university, reflecting on how better to achieve the university’s liberal ideals despite its paradoxical celebration of diversity and relative silence on race.

October 25, 2010

Written by C.N.

Links & Announcements #32

Here are some more announcements and links out that have come my way relating to Asians or Asian Americans. As always, links to other sites are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of their contents.

Essay Writer Needed: Vietnamese Student Studying in U.S.

My name is Veronica Majerol and I am an editor of the New York Times Upfront, a newsmagazine that is ready by almost a million teens across the U.S. One of the columns I edit is called “Voices,” in which we aim to publish an essay written by a teen (15 to 19 years old) who can share a personal experience that also sheds light on a larger global or national issue.

Right now, we are looking to publish an essay written by a teen from Vietnam who is studying in the U.S. We are interested in hearing about the student’s reflections on the war in Vietnam and America’s part in it (based on what the student has learned about it, since he/she would have been born well after the war) versus his/her feelings about the U.S. today and relations between the two countries.

Though we cannot guarantee that any one submission would be published, if a first draft looks promising, I would work with the student (via phone, email) through multiple drafts till it is ready for publication. The student would also be paid $100 if the piece is published, and it would be a great resume builder. I would love to know about possible candidates at your earliest convenience. I would need to have a brief phone chat with interested candidates before they start writing so I can explain the exact parameters of the essay.

Thank you in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing from you both.

Veronica Majerol
New York Times Upfront
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Graduate Fellowships

The National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students (EAPSI) is a flagship international fellowship program for developing the next generation of globally engaged U.S. scientists and engineers knowledgeable about the Asian and Pacific regions. The Summer Institutes are hosted by foreign counterparts committed to increasing opportunities for young U.S. researchers to work in research facilities and with host mentors abroad.

Fellows are supported to participate in eight-week research experiences at host laboratories in Australia, China, Japan (10 weeks), Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan from June to August. The program provides a $5,000 summer stipend, round-trip airfare to the host location, living expenses abroad, and an introduction to the society, culture, language, and research environment of the host location.

The 2011 application is now open and will close at 5:00 pm local time on November 10, 2010. Application instructions and information concerning benefits, eligibility, and tips on applying are available online at

NSF recognizes the importance of enabling U.S. researchers and educators to advance their work through international collaborations and the value of ensuring that future generations of U.S. scientists and engineers gain professional experience beyond this nation’s borders early in their careers. The program is intended for U.S. graduate students pursuing studies in fields supported by the National Science Foundation. Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply for the EAPSI.

Applicants must be enrolled in a research-oriented master’s or PhD program and be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents by the application deadline date. Students in combined bachelor/master degree programs must have matriculated from the undergraduate degree program by the application deadline date.

The first Summer Institutes began in Japan in 1990, and to date over 2,000 U.S. graduate students have participated in the program. Should you have any questions, please contact the EAPSI Help Desk by email at or by phone at 1-866-501-2922.

ETS Fellowship and Internship Programs

The goal of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Research & Development (R&D) Fellowship and Internship programs is to promote quality and distinction in educational measurement and related fields through support of significant research by early-career scientists and graduate students and exposure to methodologies within the ETS environment.

These programs provide opportunities for talented scholars and students from diverse backgrounds – especially traditionally underrepresented groups such as African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and American Indians – to pursue scientific research under the guidance of ETS senior scientists and psychometricians. These programs encourage research in areas such as educational measurement, psychometrics, validity, natural language processing and computational linguistics, cognitive psychology, learning theory, linguistics, speech recognition and processing, teaching and classroom research, statistics, international large scale assessments, and assessment design and development.

Summer Internship Program in Research for Graduate Students
Selected interns participate in research projects under the guidance of ETS mentors in Princeton, NJ. Graduate students who are currently enrolled in a full-time doctoral program in one of the areas listed above and who have completed a minimum of two years of coursework toward their PhD or EdD prior to the program start date are eligible to apply. The deadline for applying for the summer internship program is February 1, 2011.

Harold Gulliksen Psychometric Research Fellowship Program
During the academic year selected fellows study at their universities and carry out research under the supervision of an academic mentor and in consultation with an ETS research scientist. During the summer, fellows are invited to participate in the Summer Internship Program for Graduate Students working under the guidance of an ETS researcher. The program is open to applicants who are enrolled in a doctoral program in psychometrics or statistics, have completed their course work toward the PhD, and are at the dissertation stage. The deadlines for applying for the Harold Gulliksen program are December 1, 2010 for the preliminary application materials and February 1, 2011 for the final application materials.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
Selected fellows conduct research under the mentorship of ETS senior researchers in Princeton, NJ. The program is open to early-career scholars who hold a PhD or an EdD in one of the areas listed above. The deadlines for applying for the postdoctoral fellowship programs are January 1, 2011 for the preliminary application materials and March 1, 2011 for the final application materials.

Sylvia Taylor Johnson Minority Fellowship in Educational Measurement
Selected fellows conduct research under the mentorship of ETS senior researchers in Princeton, NJ. The program is open to candidates who have received their PhD or EdD within the past ten years in one of the areas listed above and who are US citizens or permanent residents.

To Apply and For More Information:
The application process for 2011 will open on November 1, 2010. No applications will be accepted prior to this date. Apply online at the ETS Fellowship and Internship Programs Website. Contacts: E-mail:, Phone: (609) 734-5543.

Call for Papers: Sociologists in Action

Thanks to your positive responses, we are moving ahead with a special journal issue of Theory in Action highlighting Sociologists in Action (SIA) and public sociology with the permission of Sage/Pine Forge! The issue will include 3 pieces from SIA that the editors Kathleen Odell Korgen, Jonathan White, and Shelley Michelle White have selected and a number of new manuscripts by those of you who wish to participate.

If you, a colleague, or graduate student have a new manuscript (different from SIA) that you think will be appropriate for this special issue please go to the following link to submit it:

In your “Abstract” file type “For the SIA special edition” — don’t forget to include keywords for the manuscript. This way your manuscript will make it to my desk as I will be personally involved. Due date for submissions: December 1, 2010. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly and once more thank you for your interest and support.

Best to all,

Dr. John Asimakopoulos
Associate Professor of Sociology
City University of New York
Executive Director & Editor in Chief
Transformative Studies Institute -Theory in Action
39-09 Berdan Avenue
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410 USA

International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas Conference

The International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO) and the Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong are organizing an international conference on Chinese Overseas: Religions and Worldview. Scholars and researchers interested in presenting papers or organizing conference panels on religions, worldview and philosophy in relation to the Chinese overseas are welcome to participate in this conference. Details are as follows.

Conference theme: Chinese Overseas: Religions and Worldview

Rationale: While various aspects of the history and cultural life of the Chinese overseas (Chinese diasporas) have been well studied, their religious life and worldview have not been systematically studied. For instance, we know very little about the religious life of the Chinese in Latin America, and for that matter in North America and Europe. Living in multicultural environments, the Chinese overseas are participants of many religions: Chinese popular religion, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Bahai and others. In fact some aspects of the Chinese popular religions as practiced in different societies have also been localized as a result of interacting with the non-Chinese cultural and religious practices. This conference will provide a forum for discussing the religious life and worldview (including, for example, Confucianism) of the Chinese overseas.

Venue: The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Shatin, NT, Hong Kong
Date: June 21-22, 2011
Title and abstract deadline: 31 December 2010
Panel proposals deadline: 31 December 2010. [For panel presentations, paper titles and abstracts should be sent via the panel chair]
Registration fee: US $90 for ISSCO members
US $100 for non-members

Accommodation: Two types of accommodation will be arranged: (a) student hostels; (b) hotels near CUHK (depending on hotels, the price per night ranges from USD $80 to $130 per night). Details will be supplied later. Conference secretariat (contact persons): Dr. TAN Chee-Beng ( and Dr. WU Keping (

October 20, 2010

Written by C.N.

Job Postings #6

here are some more announcements about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other related opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues (listed in order of application deadline). As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.

Asian American History, University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut invites applications for a tenure-track assistant/beginning associate professorship in Asian American History beginning August 23, 2011. The position will be a joint appointment between the Asian American Studies Institute and the History Department, the tenure home of the appointment. The teaching load will be equally split between the Institute and History, and will include Asian American studies, Asian American history, and U.S. history courses.

Minimum Qualifications: completed PhD in Asian American history; demonstrated excellence in research and teaching; strong interest in graduate teaching and mentoring. Equivalent foreign degrees are acceptable. Preferred Qualifications: research specialization in migration, immigration, diaspora, transnationalism, and/or comparative race/ethnicity; demonstrated ability to contribute through research, teaching, and/or public engagement to the diversity and excellence of the learning experience; if currently associate professor, promoted within the last three years.

Position is at the Storrs campus. Candidates may have the opportunity to teach at the campuses at Avery Point, Hartford, Stamford, Torrington, Waterbury, and West Hartford.

Interested applicants should provide a letter of application, complete curriculum vitae, and a sample published article or research paper through the University’s online applicant system, Husky Hire (Search # 2011038). Three letters of recommendation should be sent to Asian American History Search, History Department, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-2103. Applicants who submit materials by October 29, 2010, will receive preference in the screening process.

American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California

Social Movements and Social Justice. University of Southern California. The Department of American Studies & Ethnicity in USC’s College of Letters, Arts & Sciences invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor with a research specialization that addresses the nature and evolution of U.S. social movements for economic, environmental, gender and/or racial justice.

We are especially interested in scholars whose work is grounded in both theory and engagement with the social movements studied, and we are open to comparative, historical, and transnational approaches. A broad range of graduate training specializations will be considered, including but not limited to American Studies, Sociology, Political Science, Urban Planning, and Feminist and Ethnic Studies.

The position, beginning in fall 2011, will be in American Studies & Ethnicity, an interdisciplinary department, with significant opportunities to affiliate with campus research centers engaged in movement analysis. Please send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, one or two short writing samples, and three letters of reference to: Manuel Pastor, Chair of Search Committee, Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-4033. We will begin to review applications on November 1, 2010 and will continue until the position is filled. A Ph.D. is required by the start of employment.

[Address for Fed Ex, email, etc.:
University of Southern California 3620 South Vermont Ave. Kaprelian Hall 462 Los Angeles, California 90089-2534
Tel: 213.740.2426 Fax: 213.821.0409

Post-Doc in Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan

University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) Post-Doc for 2011-12. We are very interested in seeing Asian American and Pacific Islander studies scholars apply for these postdocs. While we are not formal sponsors of the postdocs, fellows could choose to affiliate with our Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program and Program in American Culture. Our program has a strong working relationship with NCID, which has been highly supportive of ethnic studies scholarship.

This fellowship is also designed to foster faculty recruitment, so we are especially interested in seeing those of you on the market apply. I would be happy to answer questions you might have about our programs and to direct you the proper representative for questions about NCID.

Thanks and best wishes,
Scott Kurashige
Director, Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program
University of Michigan

NCID Postdoctoral Fellows and Scholars Program

The University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) Postdoctoral Fellows and Scholars Program was established in 2008 to promote outstanding early-career scholars in diversity at the University of Michigan and other major research universities. With support from the Office of the Provost, the NCID anticipates offering two postdoctoral fellowships for a duration of one year during 2011-2012. The fellowships include protected research time, faculty mentoring, and career development opportunities. While we welcome new Ph.D. applicants, successful candidates may also currently hold tenure-track positions.

A select group of applicants will also receive one of three citations—Exemplary Diversity Dissertations, Exemplary Diversity Scholars, and Emerging Diversity Scholars. In line with our national mission, the NCID proudly features the work of both fellows and citation recipients within its online NCID Diversity Scholar Network.

Deadline for applications and nominations is November 1.

Sociology and Latin American Studies, Cal State Los Angeles

Department of Sociology and Latin American Studies Program. Tenure-Track Assistant Professor with primary specialization in globalization, and secondary specializations in sociology of human rights or international law, with emphasis on Latin America. This joint position is two-thirds time in Sociology, one-third time in the interdisciplinary Latin American Studies program, and will involve teaching courses in both programs. In addition to teaching, duties include student advising and committee service for the Department of Sociology and the Latin American Studies Program, College of Natural and Social Sciences, and University. Initial salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. The starting date is September 2011.

Minimum Qualifications: Ph.D. or ABD in Sociology. A Ph.D. from an accredited institution of higher education is required for retention. Candidates should provide a record of or evidence of potential for scholarly publication and activity in the field of globalization with secondary specializations in the sociology of human rights or international law, with emphasis on Latin America. Research should involve students whenever possible. Candidates should provide evidence of demonstrated potential for effective teaching involving a variety of methods. Candidates should also demonstrate an ability or interest in teaching in a multicultural, multiethnic campus.

Preferred Qualifications: Demonstrated success in research and publication, grant funding, academic advising, and committee service.

California State University, Los Angeles, a comprehensive urban university and one of 23 campuses that comprise the California State University system, offers programs in more than 50 academic and professional fields. The campus is located in eastern Los Angeles, adjacent to the San Gabriel Valley, with more than 22,000 full- and part-time students reflecting the rich ethnic diversity of the area. The University is committed to student-centered learning, free scholarly inquiry, and academic excellence.

Required Documentation: Please submit a letter of application, curriculum vita, transcripts showing highest degree earned, three letters of recommendation, and the University’s Application for Academic Employment form. At the time of on-campus interviews, candidates must present official transcripts. Employment is contingent upon proof of eligibility to work in the United States.

Application Deadline: November 15, 2010. Address application with required documentation and requests for information to:

Steve Gordon, Chair
Department of Sociology
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032- 8228

October 19, 2010

Written by C.N.

Job Announcement: Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

Normally I include several Asian American-related job announcements into one post, but this one caught my eye as being a particularly important position, so I mention it here by itself.

Director of Asian Pacific American Program, Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution is accepting applications and nominations for the position of
Director, Asian Pacific American Program (Announcement # EX-10-22). The closing date is November 1, 2010.

Given the increasing importance of Asian and Pacific heritage and innovation in today’s world and its global economy, the importance of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and their ecology, as well as the growth of the Asian American population and its influence in the United States, the Smithsonian requires a robust Asian & Pacific Islander American program in the coming years. To that end, the Smithsonian is in the midst of transforming its current Asian Pacific American Program into the Smithsonian Asian & Pacific Islander American Center.

The Director will lead the initiative to develop a Smithsonian Asian & Pacific Islander American Center at the Institution and nationally, building upon the foundation of the Smithsonian’s current Asian Pacific American Program. The Director will be responsible to work with and build collections, expand staff, create a national advisory board, and help formulate a new type of museum presence that takes full advantage of new media and the growth of Asian American and Pacific Islander American communities.

The Director has the primary responsibility to enhance public understanding of the heritage of Asian & Pacific Island Americans and their historical and contemporary contributions to the American experience, to world cultures, and to the study and appreciation of the natural world as articulated in the Smithsonian’s Strategic Plan “Inspiring Generations through Knowledge and Discovery.” The Director enables the Smithsonian Institution as a whole to appropriately represent Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in its research programs, collections, and educational and outreach activities, in its workforce, its advisory boards, and among fellows and interns.

Duties & Responsibilities

  1. Advises and consults with the Secretary, the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture and other appropriate senior management officials on pan-Institutional programs and issues with respect to the representation of the diverse heritage of Asian & Pacific Islander Americans, their historical and ongoing contributions to the American experience, and connections to various other groups, communities and the nation as a whole. In this capacity, manages any pan-Institutional Asian & Pacific Islander American fund.
  2. Directs the current Asian Pacific American Program and will direct the Smithsonian Asian & Pacific Islander American Center, with responsibility for its scholarly activities, exhibitions, educational and public programs, its on-online presence, the development and management of its staff, board, and volunteers, oversight and enhancement of its fiscal resources, and its consistency and compliance with Smithsonian policies, plans, and procedures.
  3. Coordinates a distinguished advisory board of public officials, civic, business, philanthropic, and academic leaders with a view of supporting programs and initiatives and advancing the national interest in the representation of Asian & Pacific Islander American achievement in history, arts, culture, science and technology, in the context of the American experience and its connections to world cultures.
  4. Develops and maintains scholarly and educational relations with other Smithsonian museums, research centers, consortia and programs, and seeks collaborative projects and activities that represent Asian & Pacific Islander American heritage and contributions to the American experience and relationship to other world cultures. Such may involve joint staff appointments, collaborative research, the acquisition of important artifactual, art, and documentary collections, exhibitions, educational and public programs, websites and publications, online and media products, community outreach, et al.
  5. Promotes Institutional partnerships with museums, universities, educational consortia and community organizations. Develops strategies that identify and encourage increased Asian American and Pacific Islander American candidate pools for Smithsonian employment. Facilitates opportunities to train Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans in museum-related fields of study, in an effort to increase internships and fellowships in the museum profession.
  6. Serves as primary liaison within the Smithsonian to Asian American and Pacific Islander American community groups, national organizations, scholarly and professional associations, academic departments and other organizations. Aids the Secretary, Under Secretary, and Office of Government Relations in representing Asian and Pacific Islander American activities, issues and needs at the Smithsonian to the Office of Management & Budget, the Regents, members and committees of Congress.
  7. Builds public awareness of all of the Smithsonian’s Asian American and Pacific Islander American programs and activities, and works with the Office of Public Affairs as appropriate in order to do so.
  8. Raises funds for the Center and its activities. Develops relationships with corporate and philanthropic sectors, encourages and applies for government and foundation grants so as to increase resources available for research and educational activities focused upon Asian American and Pacific Islander American heritage and contributions to the American experience. Works with the Office of Development as appropriate.
  9. Maintains active scholarly or professional standing and reputation by conducting research, or publishing work, or making public presentations in the Asian American and Pacific Islander American fields.

Experience and Qualifications We Seek:

  1. Knowledge of the historical, cultural, artistic, and scientific contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander American communities and individuals with a broad inter- and trans-disciplinary perspective and an orientation that allows for the inclusion of diverse peoples and communities.
  2. Experience and demonstrated results in presenting Asian American and Pacific Islander American contributions, themes and issues through scholarly research, public programming, exhibitions and /or publications with particular emphasis on reaching, interacting, and engaging with communities through new, digital social media, websites, and applications.
  3. Demonstrated ability to connect Asian American and Pacific Islander American-related contributions, themes and issues to those of other Americans and peoples of the world.
  4. Demonstrated entrepreneurial ability to build relationships and collaborate with Smithsonian museum and program directors and staff as well as external organizations to leverage support for and participation in programs.
  5. Successful track record of raising funds from individuals, foundations, corporations and governmental organizations through gifts, grants and partnerships.
  6. Communications and nimble social skills to represent the organization, its mission, vision, topical and content focus to Smithsonian directors and senior management, advisory groups, government officials and international dignitaries, community leaders, members, and civic groups and to the media.
  7. Demonstrated skills for leading and managing a multi-disciplined and culturally diverse workforce, including fostering teamwork and high morale, attracting, retaining, and mentoring staff, fellows, interns and volunteers, and implementing EEO/Affirmative Action policies and programs.

How to Apply

E-mail your resume and cover letter indicating your interest in position # EX-10-22 to:

Tom Lawrence
Office of Human Resources
Applications must be received by the closing date.

This a senior Smithsonian Trust position. Salary range is based on a comprehensive market survey of positions with similar authority and scope of responsibilities. The individual selected for this position is subject to a full-field background investigation and will be required to file a confidential statement of employment and financial interests.

The Smithsonian provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation for the application/hiring process, please call (202) 633-6370 (voice) or (202) 633-6409 (TTY).

October 18, 2010

Written by C.N.

In Brief: Recent News and Articles

I don’t always have enough time to write full posts and sociological explanations about every news story or media article about Asian Americans that comes my way, but I would like to at least mention some of them to keep you, my readers, as updated as possible. So below is a sampling of some recent news items concerning Asian Americans.

Federal Authorities Find Merit in Students’ Claims Against School

Following up on last year’s series of physical attacks against Asian American high school students in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer finds that after reviewing a civil rights complaint filed against the school on behalf of the students by the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Department of Justice has found that the students’ claims of institutional negligence have merit:

In a letter to the district, the Justice Department advised school officials to take steps to settle the matter. It was not immediately clear what form a settlement might take, though it would require the district to improve the treatment of Asian students, who say they have been mocked, harassed, and beaten at the school.

The action follows a formal civil rights complaint filed in January by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, an advocacy group. Such complaints do not result in criminal penalties, but can bring broad changes provided that violations are found to have occurred. . . .

News of the Justice Department letter comes as South Philadelphia High readies for a new school year with a new principal, its fifth in six years. Southern, as the school is known, has long failed to meet state academic standards and has been labeled “persistently dangerous” under federal law. The settlement talks indicate an approaching end to a seven-month investigation.

Similar cases generally conclude in one of three ways: The subject of the complaint enters into a written agreement with the government to fix certain deficiencies; the Justice Department requires the signing of a formal consent decree, a court-monitored settlement backed by the threat of a lawsuit; or the Justice Department opts to sue to force change.

Why Abortion Rate Among Asian-American Women Is So High

New America Media reports that recent data show that 35% of all Asian American pregnancies end in abortion, which is the second-highest percentage among the major racial groups after African Americans, and is almost double the 18% rate for Whites. The article goes on to describe many possible reasons for the relatively high rate and also presents several details personal stories to illustrate the cultural conflicts involved in such decisions.

Asian Americans are at risk for unintended pregnancies in part because their knowledge about sex remains pitifully low (which is curious, considering that Asian-American teens start having sex later than other American teens). Clifford Yee, youth program coordinator at Asian Health Services in Oakland, CA, has been asked whether douching with Mountain Dew prevents pregnancy. . . .

A few were so inexperienced that they didn’t know what the withdrawal method was, the program’s former research director Amy Lam says. Unawareness about sexual health combines with risky contraception practices. The withdrawal method has been popular among Asian-American women, who tend to eschew both hormonal birth control and consistent condom use. . . .

The problem begins at home, according to Lam, who has researched sexual behavior in the Asian-American community. “When you come from a culture where your family doesn’t talk about sex, how can you talk to your partner about safe sex when you don’t have that role model?”

Linked to this point is . . . the model minority myth: Asian parents refuse to think their well-mannered, studious children are having sex. Yee remembers one angry mother who found her 15-year-old’s birth control pills and still claimed her daughter was too young to be sexually active. “There’s a little bit of stubbornness there,” Yee says. “Some parents truly don’t want to believe their child can be out there having sex.” . . .

Lam says, “In many Asian-American cultures, it’s not the abortion that’s taboo; that’s a white thing. Having sex is [what’s] taboo. Abortions are the strategies used to cover up that you’re having sex. At all costs, you’re not supposed to have sex.”

Carly Fiorina Courts Asian American Voters

Perhaps as a sign that politicians are starting to take Asian American voters more seriously, in California’s senatorial race between Republican Carly Fiorina and Democrat incumbent Barbara Boxer, the Daily Breeze reports that Fiorina is making an effort to reach out to Asian Americans, who collectively make up 10% of the state’s population.

Fiorina addressed a crowd of about 400 during a voter-education forum hosted by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association at California State University, Sacramento. She noted California is home to more Asian-American-owned small businesses than any other state. The former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive said Boxer supports policies that have stifled private-sector job growth. She went on to say opportunities are no longer as plentiful in California because of high taxes and government regulation. . . .

[Boxer’s] campaign manager, Rose Kapolczynski, questioned Fiorina’s commitment to small businesses. She noted the Republican nominee opposes a bill designed to assist small businesses and give them greater access to credit. She said Boxer backs the entire small-business jobs bill, which will provide incentives to expand and hire.

Fiorina said she objects to a $30 billion fund that would be created under the bill and administered by the Treasury Department to increase lending. She said it amounts to another bank bailout. . . .

A Field Poll released last week showed Boxer with 52 percent collective support among Asian-Americans, blacks and American Indians, compared with 22 percent for Fiorina. About a quarter of those voters remained undecided.

Southeast Asians in Sacramento Area Making Strides

Taken as a whole, Southeast Asian Americans (particularly Hmong, Cambodians, and Laotians) have struggled in attaining socioeconomic mobility in the U.S., not from a lack of effort or hard work, but mainly due to their refugee experiences and relatively low rates of formal education, English fluency, and formal job skills. However, as the Sacramento Bee reports, new data and examples show that at least in Sacramento area that contains a large Southeast Asian American population, there are signs of progress and success.

In 1990, half the Sacramento region’s Southeast Asians were poor. Today, 52 percent own homes, according to a Bee analysis of census data. They enjoy a median household income of $50,000 annually, up from $17,350 in 1990 – about $28,500, adjusted for inflation. The regional average is $61,000. . . .

Most started at the bottom – without English or job skills – but through teamwork and the will to succeed have gone from roach-infested apartments in gang-controlled neighborhoods to suburban homes. Their children – including those at Florin High that hot August morning – have gone to America’s top universities and become doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers.

Indeed, the Southeast Asian American population in the Sacramento area have a lot to be proud of and should be congratulated. They are living examples of how the :American Dream” is still possible, despite the many inevitable challenges along the way. At the same time, their experiences cautions us to remember that there are still many members of their community who are still struggling and that we should not forget about them.

October 14, 2010

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: October

You might be interested to read the following posts from October of years past:

October 12, 2010

Written by C.N.

China’s Case of Cultural Schizophrenia

A few recent articles about China caught my attention. After taking them all in, one common theme became clear to me: China has made a lot of economic and cultural progress in recent years as it strives to become the next global superpower. At the same, as my previous blog posts have mentioned, China still lags other countries and societies when it comes to certain issues such as human rights, consumer protection, etc.

With this dichotomy in mind and as these most recent articles will highlight, China seems to be at a crossroads: is China willing to and capable of taking the next step and becoming a truly respected global superpower, or is it fated to just have economic power without real global acceptance as a legitimate ‘developed’ nation?

Specifically, in a recent column in Time magazine, Fareed Zakaria argues that despite the ongoing controversy over whether China’s government deliberately devalues its currency to artificially keep its goods cheap in overseas markets, China’s real problem is that, for it to continue to stay globally competitive, it needs to invest in improving the human capital (education, postindustrial job skills, etc.) of its citizens:

The real challenge we face from China is not that it will keep flooding us with cheap goods. It’s actually the opposite: China is moving up the value chain, and this could constitute the most significant new competition to the U.S. economy in the future. For much of the past three decades, China focused its efforts on building up its physical infrastructure. It didn’t need to invest in its people; the country was aiming to produce mainly low-wage, low-margin goods. As long as its workers were cheap and worked hard, that was good enough. . . .

Now China wants to get into higher-quality goods and services. That means the next phase of its economic development, clearly identified by government officials, requires it to invest in human capital with the same determination it used to build highways. Since 1998, Beijing has undertaken a massive expansion of education, nearly tripling the share of GDP devoted to it. In the decade since, the number of colleges in China has doubled and the number of students quintupled, going from 1 million in 1997 to 5.5 million in 2007. China has identified its nine top universities and singled them out as its version of the Ivy League.

That rationale makes perfect sense to me — as the world economy becomes more globalized, postindustrial, and information- and data-intensive, workers with these advanced educational and job skills are poised to have an advantage in the labor market. This is basically what the rest of the world believes as well. But as a New York Times article points out, the problem in China however, is that this rush and pressure to improve one’s education seems to be increasingly associated with academic fraud:

The exposure of Mr. Zhang’s faked credentials provoked a fresh round of hand-wringing over what many scholars and Chinese complain are the dishonest practices that permeate society, including students who cheat on college entrance exams, scholars who promote fake or unoriginal research, and dairy companies that sell poisoned milk to infants. . . .

[A] lack of integrity among researchers is hindering China’s potential and harming collaboration between Chinese scholars and their international counterparts, scholars in China and abroad say. . . . Pressure on scholars by administrators of state-run universities to earn journal citations — a measure of innovation — has produced a deluge of plagiarized or fabricated research. . . . [E]arlier this year, The Lancet, the British medical journal, warned that faked or plagiarized research posed a threat to President Hu Jintao’s vow to make China a “research superpower” by 2020. . . .

[P]lagiarizers often go unpunished, which only encourages more of it. . . . The Chinese government has vowed to address the problem. Editorials in the state-run press frequently condemn plagiarism and last month, Liu Yandong, a powerful Politburo member who oversees Chinese publications, vowed to close some of the 5,000 academic journals whose sole existence, many scholars say, is to provide an outlet for doctoral students and professors eager to inflate their publishing credentials.

Fang Shimin and another crusading journalist, Fang Xuanchang, have heard the vows and threats before. In 2004 and again in 2006, the Ministry of Education announced antifraud campaigns but the two bodies they established to tackle the problem have yet to mete out any punishments.

We do need to keep in mind that in many Asian countries, there is a greater sense of collective harmony and group cooperation that differs from the ethos of individualism and “every-man-for-himself” that is more prominent in western countries. Also considering the rash of American corporate greed and deceit that contributed to the onset of the current recession, fraud is certainly not exclusive to China.

At the same time, and as Chinese authorities seem to recognize at least verbally, it is clear that this mentality of malfeasance is a problem that needs to be addressed for China to move closer toward full acceptance and respect as a true global superpower.

Another aspect of China’s “cultural schizophrenia” that caught my attention concerns the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a former literature professor who has been variously persecuted by the Chinese government the past 20 years for championing democratic reform. The vast majority of the world is applauding the choice of Liu for the prize, with the obvious exception being the Chinese government. However, as a different New York Times article notes, another notable group of critics against Liu are other Chinese pro-democracy dissidents:

In recent days, a group of 14 overseas Chinese dissidents, many of them hard-boiled exiles dedicated to overthrowing the Communist Party, have been calling on the Nobel committee to deny the prize to Mr. Liu, whom they say would make an “unsuitable” laureate. In a letter, the signatories accused Mr. Liu of maligning fellow activists, abandoning persecuted members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and going soft on China’s leaders. “His open praise in the last 20 years for the Chinese Communist Party, which has never stopped trampling on human rights, has been extremely misleading and influential,” they wrote. . . .

The letter and calls from other detractors have infuriated many rights advocates, inside and outside of China, who say the attack distorts Mr. Liu’s record as a longtime proponent of peaceful [and pragmatic] change. . . . More recently, Mr. Liu was given an 11-year prison sentence last Christmas for his role in shaping a manifesto, known as Charter ’08, that called for popular elections and an end to the Communist Party’s unchallenged grip on power. . . .

Whatever the merits of the anti-Liu Xiaobo camp, their very public sentiments provide a window into the state of the overseas Chinese dissidents, a fractured group beset by squabbling and competing claims of anti-authoritarian righteousness. . . . Even if they have differences over strategy, many intellectuals and activists inside China describe Mr. Liu as a dynamic thinker who appealed both to members of the party and many of its die-hard opponents.

Despite — or perhaps because of — Mr. Liu’s compassionate and forgiving nature, he seems to be caught in the “key to failure” conundrum as articulated once by Bill Cosby: “I don’t know what’s the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” In other words, his opposition to authoritarian rule has made him an enemy of the state to the Chinese government, but apparently he is not considered “radical” enough for other pro-democracy Chinese dissidents. It’s the classic no-win scenario.

It also reminds me of similar intra-ethnic tensions within the Vietnamese American community in which hard-line anti-communist refugees often accuse others within their community of being a communist when there is a disagreement on some issue. Another example is when some Asian Americans dismiss or criticize other Asian Americans for not being “Asian” enough, particularly those who are adopted or mixed-race.

On the one hand, it’s obviously unrealistic to expect that all Chinese — both inside and outside the country — to agree on all issues and aspects of their society and government policies. On the other hand, when members of your own community reject one of their own, particularly when it comes to a highly prestigious award such as the Nobel Peace Prize, it makes me wonder about whether such a fractured group can effectively act as a respected counterbalance to China’s authoritarian rule and its continuing less-than-stellar record on human rights.

Every country has its own problems and its contradictions when it comes to establishing a united identity and collective path forward so in that regard, China is no different from, say, the U.S. Also, I am not suggesting that China should blindly conform to all social aspects and policies that are characteristic of western societies. But what is unique in China’s case is that it wants very, very badly to ascend to the position and status of being a globally respected political, economic, and cultural superpower.

In many ways, China already has enormous global influence. But that is not necessarily the same as global respect and authority.

October 8, 2010

Written by C.N.

Job Postings #5

here are some more announcements about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other related opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues (listed in order of application deadline). As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.

Asian American Studies, Scripps College

Scripps College, a women’s liberal arts college with a strong interdisciplinary tradition, invites applications for one or two part-time visiting lecturers for spring semester 2010 to teach one course in Asian American Women’s Experiences and one course on Queering Asian America. Applicants should be ABD or have a Ph.D. in ethnic studies, Asian American Studies, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, or other disciplines or interdisciplinary studies appropriate to this subject. Teaching experience preferred.

Please submit a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and contact information for three references to: Professor YouYoung Kang, Asian American Studies Search Committee, Scripps College, 1030 Columbia Avenue, Box 4063, Claremont, CA 91711. Committee review of applications will start on October 1, 2010 and continue until the position is filled. For further information about the courses, please contact Professor Kathleen S. Yep, Chair of Asian American Studies, via email at

English & Asian Diaspora, Pomona College

Full-time, tenure-track Assistant Professor specializing in literature relevant to histories of contact/migration between Asia and the Americas. We welcome interdisciplinary scholarship and pedagogy. Attractive secondary interests include drama and performance studies, postcolonial or transnational literary theories and comparative diaspora studies. Ability to teach in the nineteenth century is also a plus. PhD in hand or expected by September 2011.

Send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, and project outline to; complete applications received by October 15 will receive full consideration. At a later stage of the search, a writing sample, letters of recommendation, and transcripts will be solicited from select candidates.

Pomona College, the founding member of the Claremont Colleges, is a highly selective liberal arts college, located 35 miles east of Los Angeles and attracting a diverse, national student body. We value candidates who have a demonstrable commitment to addressing issues of race, class, and gender in the classroom and to mentoring students from underrepresented groups.

Racial Minority History, Quinsigamond Community College

Quinsigamond Community College has one or more full-time positions open in History, with a particular need for scholar(s) with an expertise in world, African, Latin American, or Asian history. Some other qualifications:

  • Master’s Degree in History or in Area/Cultural Studies with major emphasis in History.
  • Experience in post–secondary teaching and/or training adult learners.
  • One full year or equivalent teaching history at the secondary level or higher, preferably in a community or technical college setting.
  • Documented examples of curriculum / course development and assessment in history.
  • Demonstrated track record in innovative, non-traditional modes of instruction and instructional delivery, including team-teaching, on-line learning and/or service learning.
  • A clear understanding of the role of community colleges, their students and mission.
  • Evidence of understanding of and appreciation for diversity and multiculturalism.
  • A predisposition to working in a dynamic environment requiring flexibility, adaptability, and teamwork.
  • Strong evidence of commitment to excellence in working with students, faculty, and staff, and in responding to opportunities that extend the Mission of the College.

Salary is commensurate with MCCC/MTA salary schedule and dependent upon such factors as education and experience. Minimum starting salary for Master’s degree candidate is $41,470. Full salary range is $41,470 to $92,555. Full benefits package. Start date is January 2011. To apply, apply online and submit cover letter, resume, and written statement of philosophy of education including how that philosophy informs the teaching/learning process in a community college setting not later than October 17, 2010. Successful applicants will be required to complete a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI/SORI) request. Bilingual persons are encouraged to apply.

Asian American Literature, Harvard University

The English Department at Harvard University invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position in Contemporary American literature with a special interest in Asian American Literature. The appointment, effective July 1, 2011, will be made at either the entry or at an advanced level, dependent upon experience and qualifications.

The successful applicant will have a strong doctoral record and should show promise of excellence in scholarship, along with a strong commitment to teaching in a variety of areas. Finalists will be expected to submit in December the entire dissertation or as much of it as is completed (or, alternatively, a book-length publication). The successful candidate will teach four courses per year at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Send cover letter, CV, 1-2 page abstract of dissertation, dossier, and article-length writing sample (25-­30 pages, excluding footnotes), all postmarked no later than October 29, 2010, to “Contemporary and Asian American Literature Search Committee,” c/o James Simpson, Chair, Department of English, Harvard University, Barker Center ­ 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge MA 02138. Late applications will not be considered. Complete applications will be acknowledged by postcard once all materials have been received.

Sociology, Fordham University

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Fordham University invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track appointment for a quantitative sociologist at the Assistant Professor level, effective September 1, 2011. Specializations in any of the following are of interest: education, media, public opinion, race, ethnicity, and/or gender.

Candidates should be able to teach undergraduate and graduate statistics and research methods and must have a Ph.D., demonstrated excellence in teaching, an active program of research and publication, a commitment to service, and an enthusiasm for working effectively and collegially within a diverse faculty setting. Principal teaching responsibilities will be in the undergraduate program within Fordham College at Lincoln Center (in Manhattan) and in the graduate program at Rose Hill (in the Bronx).

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and TWO copies each of the following: curriculum vitae, evidence of teaching excellence from peer and/or student evaluations, one sample of scholarly writing, and the names of three references. All materials must be received by November 15th (no electronic submissions please) and addressed to: Prof. Allan S. Gilbert, Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Fordham University, 441 East Fordham Road, Bronx, New York 10458. Fordham University is an independent Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition that welcomes applications from men and women of all backgrounds.

Asian American Studies, Purdue University

Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts invites nominations and applications for a tenure-track or tenured position at the Assistant or Associate Professor level. Candidates should have the Ph.D. in Asian American Studies, Anthropology, History or Sociology, and a record of scholarly research on Asian Americans. Teaching responsibilities will include courses in Asian American Studies and the tenure home department, which will be one of the departments of Anthropology, History, or Sociology. The teaching load is two courses per semester, with the possibility of a course release for administrative duties.

The successful candidate will be expected to assume, eventually, the directorship of the Asian American Studies Program. Purdue is a partner in the Asian American Studies Consortium within the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) a collaborative consortium of Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago and University of Illinois Chicago. Review of applications will start by November 15, 2010, but the position will remain open until filled. Send letter of application, CV, a writing sample, and three letters of recommendation to: Chair, Asian American Studies Search, Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, Room 1289, Beering Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

October 6, 2010

Written by C.N.

Links & Announcements #31

Here are some more announcements and links out that have come my way relating to Asians or Asian Americans. As always, links to other sites are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of their contents.

Mochi Magazine: Empowering Asian American Girls

Mochi Magazine is a new online magazine specifically for Asian American teen girls! . . . Society has come a long way in its representation of Asians, but we still have a ways to go. Even today, Asian representation in film mostly consists of martial arts flicks with the same actors, and the Asian American identity is completely overlooked.

However, coming to terms with “Asian American” – the convergence despite all odds of two or more vastly different cultures – can be more difficult than learning our parents’ mother tongues or Tae Kwon Do. “Asian American,” in fact, is an identity apart from the terms “Asian” and “American” – it is the space between the two words that we struggle with. . . . We envisioned Mochi as the older sister you never had, who could answer all of those simple but essential fashion and beauty questions. We imagined a supportive resource in the exploration of Asian American identities. At the very least, we hoped that Mochi would serve as a good conversation starter. . . .

What was once a mere idea is now a full-fledged publication with over forty talented and passionate staff members. In witnessing the growth of Mochi, we have learned a lot about you – ambitious, smart, multi-talented and curious girls – and, consequently, ourselves. And as Mochi continues to grow and reach out to more girls like you, we hope to keep learning.

Asian American Women in Leadership Conference

Asian Sister Participating in Reaching Excellence (ASPIRE) is pleased to present the 2010 Asian American Women In Leadership (AAWIL) Conference on October 16th, 2010 celebrating the theme of “Discovering the Leader Within.”

The 2010 AAWIL Conference aims to encourage attendees to explore, learn, and flourish. This conference will challenge and support Asian American women to take a leap. Speakers will share their experiences on how they were able to discover themselves through new inspirations and experiences which allowed for change in their lives.

The Asian American Women in Leadership (AAWIL) Conference was started to set forth strategic dialogue on the importance of leadership for Asian American girls and women. Specifically, the conference is designed to: explore various aspects of leadership, particularly as it relates to Asian American women, evaluate the effectiveness of different leadership skills and styles, energize and equip attendees to seek out future leadership opportunities, create cross-generational networks among attendees that will extend discussions and relationships beyond the scope of the conference, and raise awareness about ASPIRE, its missions and value to Asian American girls and women. It is also the only conference for Asian American women of all ages on the east coast. Historically, our audience has ranged from high school students to professionals in their mid 30s. So far, we have been able to attract 150-200 attendees every year.

This year, the conference theme is “Discovering the Leader Within.” It will build upon last year’s theme of “Fearless Leadership: Taking Charge with Confidence” and aims to encourage attendees to explore, learn, and flourish. The conference will be held on October 16th, 2010 at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. All the information can be found online.

Volunteers Needed for Voting Rights Monitoring

Asian American Election Protection and Poll Monitoring: Defending Asian American Voting Rights

General Elections — Tuesday, November 2, 2010. In past elections, Asian Americans have faced a series of barriers in exercising their right to vote. For example, poll workers were hostile and made racist remarks, poll sites had too few interpreters to assist Asian American voters, translated voting materials were missing or hidden from voters, and ballots were mistranslated listing Democratic candidates as Republicans, and vice versa. When the news media reported on election returns and the vote by specific groups, Asian Americans were often overlooked.

In response, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund has conducted a non-partisan survey of Asian American voters to document Asian American voting patterns. AALDEF has also monitored the elections for compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, which mandates bilingual ballots and forbids anti-Asian voter discrimination.

On November 2, 2010, AALDEF and several other Asian American groups will be monitoring the elections and conducting non-partisan voter surveys at polling sites in Asian American neighborhoods in at least ten states. We need your help.

In 2008, over 1,000 volunteers polled more than 16,000 Asian American voters in eleven states. Volunteers are needed to administer a multilingual voter survey in 3-hour shifts and document voting problems on Election Day. Polls are generally open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. There will be a one and a half hour training session for all volunteers. All volunteers must be non-partisan during the time that they help. To sign up, go to Thank you!

For more information, contact:
Irene Jeon
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
99 Hudson Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10013

Call for Papers: Asian American Literature & Food

Asian American Literature: Discourses and Pedagogies
Special Issue on “Teaching Food and Foodways in Asian American Literature and Popular Culture”
Special Issue Guest Editor, Eileen Chia-Ching Fung

The topic of food has been a significant cultural icon for Asian American literature, films and other popular cultural venues and has gained increasing visibility in the mainstream publishing market and public media in recent years. This special issue invites scholars and writers to discuss how to approach teaching food and foodways within the contexts of Asian American literary, film, and cultural studies.

While the tropes of food and eating engage in complex sets of negotiations of individual, familial and communal definitions, they also invoke questions about Orientalism, internalized colonialism, commodification, and consumption. This issue aims to explore the social, political, and cultural paradigms generated by Asian American food narratives. We are especially interested in pedagogical works that explore ways to teach food writing, media representation, and popular culture about food.

These are some suggested questions and themes:

  • What are some characteristics and narrative strategies of Asian American food writings?
  • How does one teach analyses of eating and cooking as Asian American literary tropes?
  • How can one incorporate Asian American food memoirs, cookbooks or food shows as part of the Asian American Studies discourse and/or Asian American cultural studies curriculum?
  • What is the relationship between Asian American food texts and other American food narratives?
  • How do race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality shape food writing?
  • How can we explore themes of food tourism, food ethnography, food pornography, and food colonialism?
  • How does one offer critical readings and pedagogical strategies of teaching Asian/Asian American food writers, cooks, articles, or celebrities in multi-media including films, television, internet (i.e. blogs), and other public spaces?

All articles must be under 10,000 words, with a preference for shorter articles of 2,000-7,000 words. Please follow the most current MLA format. Inquiries for this Special Issue may be addressed to Dr. Eileen Chia-Ching Fung at Full final articles must be submitted by October 15, 2010 to

October 4, 2010

Written by C.N.

Tyler Clementi Suicide: The Interconnections of Grief

Tyler Clementi

One of the biggest stories this past week was the suicide of 18-year old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. Most reports describe that he was apparently pushed into ending his life after his roommate and another student (Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei) broadcast a video stream on the internet of Clementi having sex with another male student:

On the evening of September 19, Rutgers student Dharun Ravi is believed to have sent a message by Twitter about his roommate, Clementi. “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, surreptitiously placed the camera in their dorm room and broadcast video of Clementi’s sexual encounter on the internet, the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office said. Ravi tried to use the webcam again two days later, on September 21. “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again,” Ravi is believed to have tweeted. The next day, Clementi was dead. . . .

Ravi and Wei, 18, of Princeton, New Jersey, are charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for the September 19 broadcast, according to the prosecutor’s office. Two more counts of invasion of privacy were leveled against Ravi for a September 21 attempt to videotape another encounter involving Clementi, the prosecutor’s office said.

At this point, the focus should be on supporting Tyler Clementi’s family, his friends, and all LGBT persons who are in similar situations of feeling humiliated, alienated, and alone in a society that it often too quick to ridicule and marginalize their identities. This is indeed a sickening tragedy on all levels and for everybody involved and as the NBC video segment below describes, bullying that leads to suicide is a real problem:

Inevitably, many will place the blame squarely on Ravi and Wei for perpetrating such a immature, callous, and reckless act. They indeed need to be disciplined but we also need to consider a few other factors before “locking them up and throwing away the key.”

The Double-Edge Sword

Ultimately people are responsible for their own individual actions, but as a sociologist, I would argue that their actions are another example of one of the unfortunate results of the growing ubiquity of the internet and technology — the erosion of basic social etiquette and norms of behavior. That is, while the internet and social networking sites now allow us to interact with and share information between people much more easily, widely, and quickly than ever before, as some researchers argue, they have also led to the decline of many social norms. A Pew Research Institute report notes that some of the negatives associated with increased internet use are:

. . . time spent online robs time from important face-to-face relationships; the internet fosters mostly shallow relationships; the act of leveraging the internet to engage in social connection exposes private information; the internet allows people to silo themselves, limiting their exposure to new ideas; and the internet is being used to engender intolerance.

It’s with this in mind that I would argue that part of Ravi and Wei’s mindset in perpetrating these acts was based on being desensitized to and detached from the consequences of their actions. This is not an excuse for their actions, which were indeed thoughtless. Nonetheless, from a sociological point of view, like many young people these days who grew up surrounded by the internet and the ease of uploading videos, electronically chatting with friends, and sharing virtually all aspects of their public and private lives, they probably felt that streaming Clementi’s private life online was just like other forms of social life that they engaged in themselves or saw on television through reality shows, etc.

I also need to mention the racial/ethnic aspect of this episode: both Ravi and Wei are Asian American and just like other tragic events in recent history in which the perpetrators were Asian American (the murders at Virginia Tech committed by Seung Hui Cho as one example), there are also likely to be generalizations about Asian Americans being conniving, intolerant, mentally unstable, and/or feeling of superiority perhaps due to their academic success, etc.

I hope that we can all recognize that, as with any racial, ethnic, cultural, or religious group, the unfortunate actions of one person or a small group of people should not indict everyone of that same group as being guilty by association.

As I noted earlier, I agree that Ravi and Wei need to be appropriately disciplined. But even if one or both of them had any anti-gay beliefs beforehand (there does not seem to be any evidence of that so far), as I’ve also written before about those who commit hate crimes against Asian Americans and other minority groups, I do not support criminalizing them in such a harsh and punitive way that they become “lifelong racists” — or in this case, lifelong homophobes.

I hope we can emphasize the need to condemn and punish the act while also making sure the actors learn from their mistakes so that they can eventually join the fight to make sure these kinds of tragedies do not happen again.

Moving Forward Together

As I noted earlier, the focus should be on Tyler Clementi, his family, his social community, and others in a similar position. It’s with this in mind that I point out that LGBT Americans and Asian Americans share many things in common. As I’ve chronicled on many occasions on this blog, many Asian Americans have and continue to endure bullying, racist taunts, and even physical violence in their daily lives. Like Tyler Clementi, many Asian Americans feel isolated, alienated, and even despondent over how they’re treated by mainstream American society — to the point of also taking their own lives as a result.

A tragedy like this can tear us as a society apart, or it can help open up a dialog and ultimately bring us closer together. I believe that the despite inevitable differences that many individuals have within each minority group, the common experiences on feeling shut out of the American mainstream is an unfortunate but powerful bond that we do share together.

= = = = = = = =

Update: On March 16, 2012, Dharun Ravi was found guilty of several charges for his role in the events related to spying on Tyler Clementi:

A New Jersey jury today found former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi guilty on all counts for using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having a gay sexual encounter in 2010.

Ravi, 20, was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Clementi’s date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Clementi for being gay.

Ravi was found not guilty of some subparts of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy, and attempted bias intimidation, but needed only to be found guilty of one part of each count to be convicted.

The convictions carry a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison. Because Ravi is a citizen of India, and is in the US on a green card, he could be deported following his sentencing.