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nu asian american studies

2014 –2015 inaugural newsletter aasp

Asian American Studies Program

A LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR Dear Northwestern Alumni and Friends, On behalf of the Asian American Studies Program, it is my pleasure to introduce our inaugural annual newsletter! We are excited to reconnect with you and establish a way to update you about our events and happenings, and help us expand the Northwestern Asian American Studies community. Since its inception in 1999, the Asian American Studies program has offered an intellectual and social home for students of a diverse range of backgrounds. AASP continues to grow in visibility and presence on the Northwestern Campus. During the 2014-2015 year, we had 28 minors. In collaboration with students, the faculty is in the process of proposing an undergraduate major during the upcoming academic year. I am pleased to complete my first year as Director. I assumed the position in Fall 2014, for a three-year term. In addition to Asian American Studies, my training is in cultural and linguistic anthropology, and research focuses on race, ethnicity, media, youth, and language in the United States, among South Asian Americans and Asian Americans in corporate America. I joined Northwestern in 2007, and it has been a privilege to be a core faculty member in the AASP and watch it grow over the years. This year has been a dynamic one, filled with speakers, events, and commemoration. In the Fall, we held an event exploring Asian American Food Studies with esteemed scholars Robert Ku (Binghamton University),

Martin Manalansan (UIUC), Anita Mannur (Miami University, OH). In the winter, we celebrated Lunar New Year with students over a pan-Asian feast and recollections of how we celebrated major Asian holidays growing up— ranging from moon cakes for the new year, samosas for Diwali, and goat curry for Eid—and how these once private celebrations have been brought into the mainstream of campus life and the American public imagination. In spring we ushered in Asian American Studies on a national scale by welcoming the Association for Asian American Studies annual conference right here in Evanston! Northwestern was proud to sponsor several events, including a New Books reception and a film screening with Grace Lee Boggs and her film American Revolutionary, and Tatsu Aoki’s Miyumi Project. This May, the 20th anniversary commemoration of the hunger strike was celebrated by an event was overflowing with students and alum, and served as a testament to the continued student investment in AASP. In addition to honoring our graduating minors this June, we also bid farewell to two of our beloved faculty members. Professor Carolyn Chen will be joining the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and Professor Jinah Kim will join Cal State Northridge. We extend our best wishes to both of them. The 2015-2016 year will thus be one of transition and change. We welcome two instructors who will be joining this year: Laura Fugikawa and Jennifer Huynh. They join our remaining core faculty—Ji-Yeon Yuh, Nitasha Sharma, and me—and our affiliates in a range of departments, to embrace the changes ahead and continue to build and grow Asian American Studies. Please send us your alumni perspectives, news, and updates on your life and career. We would love to showcase them in upcoming editions of this newsletter. As always, we hope to see you at events and look forward to staying in touch. Yours truly, Shalini Shankar, Director

DEFINING OUR MISSION In April 2015, our faculty convened for a day-long retreat to assess our progress and set future goals. We were all impressed by the caliber of our students, the increasing visibility and respect for the program, and the ongoing interest in Asian American Studies. We reflected proudly that our program provides an inclusive, supportive intellectual home for all students. We jointly committed to continue to foster critical thinking, thoughtful reflection, and collective action. We are excited to present our new mission statement here.

The Asian American Studies Program at Northwestern is a vital community of interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans and global Asian migrations. Through analyses of race, ethnicity, culture and power we foster critical perspectives to transform the world.

AN ASIAN AMERICAN LITANY On the last day of the quarter, students in Professor Carolyn Chen’s “Second Generation Asian American Experience” course wrote a litany as a class after watching a video of Jesse Jackson recite the powerful poem “I Am – Somebody” by Rev. William Borders, Sr. After hashing out the text, the class performed the piece together. Read it on the next page, and watch the video by clicking on this link and typing in the password “litany”.

I might have slanted eyes, but I can see through your fetish. I might have good grades, but I’m more than your nerd. I might have good food, but I’m still hungry. I might be an immigrant, but I’m more than your diversity. I might be quiet, but I will not be silent. I am more than Asian. I am more than American. I am Asian American!

CELEBRATING OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY In 1995, 17 Northwestern student activists began a 23-day hunger strike to push the administration to establish an Asian American Studies program. The hunger strike not only raised awareness and support from Northwestern University students, but also from students from campuses all across the country. Northwestern, along with Columbia, Princeton, University of California, and Brown, were being challenged by students demanding Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies at their campuses. Four years later, in 1999, the Asian American Studies Program was established as a result of those protests. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the hunger strike. More than 150 people crowded into a packed Hardin Hall for our commemorative event to honor the Program’s growth into a nationally renowned academic center for the study of the Asian American experience. The event featured talks from Dr. Suman Pendakur, an original hunger striker and the Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity at Harvey Mudd College; Dr. Aldon Morris, Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and AASP’s first Director; and a number of performances from students and Asian American Studies minors.

Dr. Sumun Pendakur (Weinberg ‘98) who participated in the hunger strike as a freshman, talks about how the movement for Asian American Studies shaped her career. She is currently the Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity at Harvey Mudd College. Photo: Zack Laurence/The Daily Northwestern

Three Asian American Studies minors – (from left to right) Sarah Oberholzter, Comm ‘17, Kevin Luong, Weinberg ‘16, and Cinthya Rodriguez, Weinberg ‘17 – perform a spoken word piece about solidarity, student activism and hunger for social change. Photo: Madhuri Sathish/North by Northwestern

Dr. Aldon Morris, Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and the first director of the Asian American Studies Program, addresses the resistance faced by the hunger strikers in 1995. Photo: Madhuri Sathish/North by Northwestern

Tiffany Chang, Weinberg ‘15, delivers closing remarks, insisting that “If we don’t fight for ourselves, no one will fight for us.” Photo: Madhuri Sathish/North by Northwestern

Northwestern’s premiere hip hop dance crew, ReFresH, performs. Photo: Madhuri Sathish/North by Northwestern

Because of intellectual and social marginalization, Asian American students felt that Asian American Studies was sorely needed to field an important vacuum in Northwestern’s curriculum and in its culture. Such a program would provide knowledge for Asian american students pertaining to their history and experiences in America. – DR. ALDON MORRIS, LEON FORREST PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY

AAAS ANNUAL CONFERENCE The Asian American Studies Program and Provost Dan Linzer co-sponsored the 35th Association for Asian American Studies annual conference. Held at the Hilton Orrington in downtown Evanston, the conference was attended by almost 1000 people, including a number of Northwestern University undergraduates and Asian American Studies Minors. Faculty in AASP and Northwestern students presented academic papers, participated in roundtable discussions, and served as discussants and on the Association Board. The conference theme was “The Trans/national Imaginary: Global Cities & Racial Borderlands.� The next conference will be held in Miami in April 2016. For more information about the Association for Asian American Studies, please go to:

Asian American Studies Program Director Shalini Shankar with Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer with AAAS President Linda Trinh Vo. Photo: Florante Ibanez

Professor Nitasha Sharma greets Brown University professor Daniel Kim while addressing the audience at the AAAS Book Awards Reception. Photo: Florante Ibanez

END-OF-YEAR CELEBRATION At the end of each year, the Asian American Studies community gets together to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, send off our graduating minors and enjoy some good food, friends and music. Check out the photos from our end-of-the-year reception on the next few pages.

Asian American Studies graduating minors: (from left to right) Aozora Brockman (Weinberg ‘15), Jesse Zhang (McCormick ‘15), Varun Bhatnagar (Weinberg ‘15), Tiffany Chang (Weinberg ‘15), Paul Lee (McCormick ‘15)

East Asian interest acapella group, The Treblemakers, performs

AASP Minors Kevin Luong and Varun Bhatnagar

AASP Professor Carolyn Chen, Hayeon Kim (Weinberg ‘13) and Christine Nguyen (Medill ‘15) lead students in a recitation of an “Asian American Litany” written by students as a class in Chen’s “Second Generation Asian American Experience” course

Students and faculty at the end-of-year reception chant along to an “Asian American Litany” written by students in Chen’s “Second Generation Asian American Experience” course

A packed room for our end-of-year reception!

Prof. Jinah Kim reflects on her time at Northwestern. Dr. Kim is leaving next year to teach at Cal State Northridge.

Our wonderful program assistant, Cheryl Jue, and our fantastic work-study, Hayeon Kim (Weinberg ‘17)

STUDENT AWARDS These awards honor and recognize outstanding students in Asian American Studies. Undergraduate students are formally nominated by faculty in the spring quarter and then approved by the Committee on Asian American Awards.

> Outstanding Achievement in Asian American Studies is presented to graduating seniors who excel in AAS coursework and foster initiatives and demonstrate leadership, both within the classroom and in co-curricular activities sponsored by the Asian American Studies Program.

> Distinguished Essay in Asian American Studies is presented to students who have written the best essays on any topic related to Asian American studies.

> Good Citizenship in Asian American Studies is presented to students who actively and regularly participate in activities sponsored by the Asian American studies program and honors their meaningful contribution towards community building.

> Asian American Community Summer Fellowship awards one Asian American Studies Minor a $3,000 grant to pursue an internship at a non-profit community organization that serves the Asian American community.








“Decoding Symbolic and Material Loss: Recovery of South Korean Memory in the Vietnam War”

“The Mixed Church: Case Studies from an Indian-Pakistan American Methodist Church”






TRANSITIONS The 2015-2016 year is going to be one of big changes as we welcome two new instructors and say goodbye to two of our dearest faculty members. Laura Fugikawa (PhD, 2011, University of Southern California, American Studies and Ethnicity) and Jennifer Huynh (ABD, Princeton, Sociology) will join us as instructors in the fall. Read more about them in the blurbs on the next page. Welcome to Northwestern, Laura and Jennifer! We’re also sad to say goodbye to Professor Carolyn Chen and Professor Jinah Kim who are leaving us for sunny California. Professor Chen joined Northwestern in 2003 in Asian American Studies and Sociology. She served as AASP Director from 2011-2013, and has contributed immeasurably to the program. She will be joining the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Our other departing colleague, Professor Jinah Kim, joined AASP in 2006 as our postdoc and became our Assistant Director in 2008. She is an award-winning professor and is adored by our minors. She leaves us for Cal State Northridge. We’re sad to see them go, but wish them the best in their future endeavors. (We’ll also make sure to send them photos of our beautiful Chicago winters so they know what they’re missing.)



PHD, 2011, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, AMERICAN STUDIES AND ETHNICITY Laura Sachiko Fugikawa holds a doctoral degree in American Studies and Ethnicity with a certificate in Gender Studies from the University of Southern California. She is currently finishing a book manuscript, Displacements: the Cultural Politics of Relocation, which is a comparative analysis of narratives surrounding midtwentieth century relocation and assimilation campaigns directed at Japanese American and American Indian communities and their aftermaths. In 2015-2016, Laura will be teaching: Introduction to Asian American Studies; Studies in Race, Gender and Sexuality; and Asian American History.


ABD, PRINCETON, SOCIOLOGY Jennifer Huynh is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at Princeton University. Jennifer’s interests include immigration, race/ethnicity, and stratification. Her research focuses on the experiences of second-generation Vietnamese in Little Saigon. Her previous research included fieldwork in Hong Kong, Vietnam, the U.K., and the Solomon Islands. Before joining Princeton, she worked as a sociology instructor in northeast China. She is second-generation Vietnamese from Southern California. In 2015-2016, Jennifer will be teaching Asian Am 225, Ethnic Economies and Neighborhoods; Second Generation Asian American Experience; and Southeast Asian Americans.




WORDS FROM OUR ALUMNI The Asian American Studies Program at Northwestern is a leader in the field. We have been recognized for our faculty’s excellence in teaching and research, and for incubating dynamic student research. Our commitment to fostering student leaders has made us a dynamic center for student life at Northwestern University. Students from the Program have regularly gone on to graduate school, medical school and law school, worked for national publications and brands, started non-profits, produced documentaries and more. Check out what our alumni are up to now and see how their education in Asian American Studies has influenced their lives and careers beyond Northwestern.


Graduates of the Asian American Studies Program provide the world with a unique and critical point of view that is often underrepresented. Personally, minoring in Asian American Studies has been one of the most valuable decisions of my life. As a minority figure living in a majority world, I did not know how to comfortably navigate personal or professional relationships. The education I received from the program’s stellar professors taught me not only about the history of Asian American race relations, but also how I can effectively situate myself in society in order to affect positive change. I believe one of the most valuable things graduates of the program have to offer is the drive to push for a better society. Though this mission can sometimes seem impossible or idealistic, the professors of the program arm us with strategies and insight that allow us to be leaders in this realm. Too often, the content of university classes prove to be arbitrary in real-life settings. But if you believe the purpose of education is to ultimately introduce good and strong people into the world, then the Asian American Studies Program is absolutely crucial to the mission of education and is not to be overlooked. I urge you to support this program, as I will continue to support this program far into the future. Tiffany Chang, ‘15

Graduates of the Asian American Studies Program provide the world with a unique and critical point of view that is often underrepresented.

The Asian American Studies department has been my happy place since I was a freshman at Northwestern. As a freshly minted graduate, I find that the classes I've taken in Asian American pop culture, Global Cold War history and Asian American Womens' History have all found their way to be relevant even after I left the classroom. It's true that taking Asian American Studies courses gives you an opportunity to have a more analytical perspective on the constant stream of information you are embedded with on a daily basis. But for me, the best part of the program and everything it had to offer were the meaningful mentor relationships I have established as a result of majoring in Asian American Studies. At The New York Times, I have found myself thinking of what I learned in my Asian American Studies classes. I think about how to tell stories that don’t make cookie cutter assumptions of Asian Americans as readers, work to find opportunities to highlight stories that are not “mainstream” and above all, remind myself of the invaluable lessons in Asian American Studies that are applicable in every work environment where Asian Americans are still a minority. It has only been a couple of months since I graduated, but I’m looking forward to giving back and supporting those who have made my undergraduate career so meaningful. Yoona Ha, ‘15


Joseph Bokum Lee is currently a pediatric intern and dual masters of public policy candidate at the University of Chicago. Joseph also serves as the community representative of the Northside College Preparatory High School Local School Council; and founded the Road Less Traveled Fund, a non for profit that provides vehicles to young people to better their lives. Lastly, Joseph volunteers his time with the BEST basketball and Asian Americans for Advancing Justice organizations. In 2015, Joseph graduated from Rush Medical College, where he sat on a diversity council to help increase the number of underrepresented minorities at Rush and was a national board member for the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association. While at Rush, he inducted into the Gold Humanism Honors Society, and was awarded with the National Medical Fellowship’s Dr. David Monash/John Caldwell Scott Medical Student Scholarship, the Rush University Student Diversity and Inclusion Award and Mortar Board National Honor’s Society’s Emerging Leaders Award. In 2011, Joseph received an MAT from Dominican University, concurrently teaching 7th and 8th grade students at Parkside Community Academy in the south side of Chicago through Teach for America. For his efforts, he has been featured on CNN and the Chicago Tribune. In 2009, Joseph graduated Northwestern University with a BA in psychology and received the Outstanding Achievement in Asian American Studies Award.

AASP helped me to give voice to my own experiences as well as larger structures of inequality, and also gave me the tools and confidence to pursue a career in academia.

When I took my first AASP course at Northwestern, it felt like everything just clicked. My life began to make sense and I began to see how my experiences growing up as a 2nd generation Asian American in Connecticut was not just about my own individual struggles with identity, belonging, and racism, but part of a collective and larger system of oppression that creates very real divides in standards of living and life expectancy among racialized populations in the US. AASP at Northwestern helped me to give voice to my own experiences as well as larger structures of inequality, and also gave me the tools and confidence to pursue a career in academia. Bio: Kristen Sun is a PhD Candidate at UC Berkeley in the Department of Ethnic Studies. She received a MA degree in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and a BA in American Studies from Northwestern University (with minors in Asian American Studies and Film and Media Studies). Her dissertation research is on contemporary memorializations of the Korean War in South Korean and U.S. cinema, museums, and memorials. Broadly speaking, her research interests encompass race, gender, war, trauma, memory, U.S. empire in Asia, Cold War cultures and legacies, and transnational Asian American Studies. During her time at Northwestern, Kristen was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and was a Fulbright Junior Researcher in South Korea for the 2014-2015 year. Kristen Sun, ‘11

SUPPORT ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES We need you! Your donations allow us to create community-based learning and enrichment opportunities for our students and host events that enlighten the broader Northwestern Community. Please give what you can, your contribution matters! Click here to support the Program with a donation or visit our website at www.asianamerican.


Asian American Studies Program

Asian American Studies Program Phone: +1-847-467-7114 Fax: +1-847-467-8933 1819 Hinman Evanston, IL 60208 Check out our website: Reach out to us through email: And LIKE us on Facebook!

AASP Newsletter 2014-2015  

Asian American Studies at Northwestern University was established by a sweeping student movement in the 1990's that demanded a deeply needed...