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Issue 2 | Spring 2014

The Asian American Studies Program

Message From Anna Guevarra, Director

Table of Contents ASAM Milestones...........2–3 Faculty and Staff............4–5 AANAPISI Initiative........6–7 Study Abroad..................8–9 Student Engagement.........10 Community Engagement...11 Alumna Interview...............12

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Welcome to the second issue of ASAMovement! The program has seen many remarkable developments since the inaugural newsletter. Since 2011, we more than doubled the number of Asian American Studies minors; we added several courses to the curriculum, including Cultural Politics of Asian American Food, Asian American Picture Books and Graphic Novels, Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies, and Introduction to Arab American Studies; we held faculty-led study abroad programs to India (twice) and Japan; we strengthened student engagement through the ASAM student advisory board, Knowledge Bowl, and Expo grants; and we sharpened our community engagement focus with faculty developing research projects and curricular initiatives in collaboration with community organizations. I am thrilled to build upon the momentum and explore new trajectories for growing ASAM since becoming the director in 2012.


Stay connected with ASAM! To join the listserv, email

While we bid farewell to our dear colleague and friend, Professor Kevin Kumashiro, we celebrated exciting additions to our ASAM community. This year, we were delighted to welcome Professor Nadine Naber, who joined with a 25% appointment. The field of Asian American Studies has evolved in relation to new immigration patterns and historical shifts in U.S. racial formations, including phenomena such as Islamaphobia, new Orientalisms, and anti-Arab/South Asian/Muslim racisms. Professor Naber’s work deals explicitly with these dynamics. A second exciting coup for us is Professor Karen Su, who has developed and taught exciting ASAM seminar courses and is now Clinical Assistant Professor and AANAPISI Project Director. A third coup is gaining the expertise of Jill Huynh, who came from the Honors College and joined ASAM as Assistant Director and AANAPISI Undergraduate Advisor. As if these wonderful developments were not enough, we are extremely fortunate to have two visiting faculty: Professor Laura Fugikawa and

University of Illinois at Chicago

Professor Surbhi Malik, both of whom have contributed to ASAM in numerous ways, including developing and teaching new courses, advising students, bringing scholars and artists to campus, and helping to apply for department grants. Of course, we are fortunate to continue benefitting from long-standing members of ASAM: Professor Mary Anne Mohanraj, who maintains our website, coordinates Expo grants, and manages events; Professor Rooshey Hasnain, who leads the Community Engagement Project and makes visible issues of mental health faced by Asian American communities; and Professor Mark Chiang, who continues to serve ASAM even while on sabbatical. This summer, Professor Chiang hosted the East of California Junior Faculty Mentoring Initiative and is involved in a UIC initiative to collect disaggregated student data. Last, but not least, the members of the ASAM Student Advisory Board have been an amazing resource—a sounding board, creative and energizing force, and advocates for the program in every sense of the word. As you browse this newsletter, I hope you will see ASAM’s vibrant community. It is this community of scholars, teachers, students, and activists that I am proud to work alongside every day. We have been able to do our work these past four years largely because of the multi-million dollar AANAPISI grant, and we are deeply grateful for this support. Without this federal funding, we could not have done what you will see on these pages. As we continue to honor the legacy of the students who mobilized the Asian American movement on campus that created ASAM, I call on you for support: take our classes, minor in ASAM, participate in the student advisory board, donate to ASAM, and most importantly, get involved in the ASAM movement to help us grow and thrive in the years to come. The Asian American Movement at UIC is now in your hands!






ASAM Milestones

Faculty Books

AANAPISI Innitiative

Study Abroad

Issue 2 | Spring 2014


“ASAMOVEMENT” KEY MILESTONES FOR 1991: Students begin to rally for an Asian American Studies program and form the Asian American Collegiate Organization (AACO).

1999: The Coalition for Asian American Studies (later named the Asian American Coalition Committee or AACC) begins lobbying for a resource and cultural center, an Asian American Studies program, and an academic support network.

2000: Courses in Asian American literature, history, and sociology are offered and a Hindi/Urdu course starts as a result of student petitions.

2002: The English Department hires Mark Chiang and Helen Jun as UIC’s first tenure-track Asian Americanist faculty.

Spring “ASAM” becomes the official rubric to identify Asian 2007: American Studies courses in Timetable. Two additional tenure-track faculty are hired to teach Asian American Studies: Anna Guevarra, Assistant Professor in Sociology, and Eric Tang, Assistant Professor in African American Studies. Fall The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences establishes 2007: an official Asian American Studies Faculty Advisory Committee and appoints Kevin Kumashiro as the first ASAM Coordinator. Summer The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences authorizes 2008: a search for a senior faculty director of Asian American Studies.

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Photo by Liz Thomson

people talk about how taking an Asian American Studies class has

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Faculty with 2012 graduating minors Tito Catuncan and Christopher Lardizabal.

f the Asian America er o nC mb oa e m liti d on n a C “While many a

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2005: The Asian American Resource and Cultural Center (AARCC) is established with Karen Su, Corinne Kodama, and Elvin Chan as founding staff.

2005–06: Introduction to Asian American Studies is offered for the first time. AARCC coordinates the ASAM Lecture Series and the first ASAM Expo, an academic fair featuring student research projects in Asian American Studies. AACC holds a Speak Out in the quad to rally support for the establishment of an Asian American Studies Program and holds a second Speak Out the following year. In Fall 2006, AARCC establishes the Asian American Studies Advisory Council made up of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty to coordinate activities in support of Asian American Studies.

enlightened them about certain issues [and] given them a better sense of their racial history, for me, it was also about building community, bringing together a collective of people around fighting for

something that should be a right, not a privilege… It’s

“When my

years of struggle, UIC is actually getting an Asian

sister forwarded an announcement about

the program and the minor, I was in near tears. This


mi om

many of us.”

I was a part of that movement is something I’m quite proud of and hold near and dear to my heart.”


means so much to so ttee


American Studies program. To be able to say that


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not just a program, it’s a movement. Finally, after 20

Connie Luo, 2013 ASAM minor, receiving the ASAMovement crane, a tribute to all graduating ASAM minors, from the Director, Anna Guevarra. Photo by Liz Thomson

Issue 2 | Spring 2014


THE UIC ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES PROGRAM 2008–09: Gayatri Reddy serves as the second ASAM Coordinator. ASAM Minor proposal submitted. First ASAM Knowledge Bowl is held. Mary Anne Mohanraj joins English with a partial administrative appointment in Asian American Studies and Asian Studies. Senior faculty director search is cancelled due to budget crisis and hiring freeze. Eric Tang leaves UIC in summer 2009.

2011–12: Anna Guevarra joins ASAM with a 100% faculty appointment. ASAM Student Advisory Board is formed. The inaugural edition of ASAMovement is published. UIC receives a second AANAPISI grant. Once again, no authorization for tenure-track faculty hire in ASAM. Gayatri Reddy and Anna Guevarra teach the first study abroad program for ASAM in summer 2012. 2012–13: Anna Guevarra becomes director of ASAM. Laura Fugikawa joins ASAM as visiting faculty with a joint appointment in Gender & Women’s Studies Program (GWS), a position made possible by the AANAPISI grant. Relocation of ASAM faculty to the 10th floor of University Hall begins.

2010–11: ASAM Minor and Program are officially established with the inaugural “Kick Ass Kick Off.” Mark Chiang becomes first director with a joint appointment in ASAM and English. Kevin Kumashiro joins ASAM with a 100% appointment. ASAM celebrates its first class of graduating seniors. AARCC, ASAM, and the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy successfully gain the first AANAPISI grant in the Midwest. The Office of Social Science Research, ASAM, and AARCC launch AANAPISI year-one initiatives. No authorization for tenure-track faculty hire in ASAM.

Summer Karen Su joins ASAM and assumes the position of Project 2013: Director upon the departure of Kevin Kumashiro. Jill Huynh joins ASAM as Assistant Director and AANAPISI Undergraduate Advisor.

Summer Rooshey Hasnain joins ASAM as visiting faculty to 2011: coordinate the community engagement initiative, fully funded by the AANAPISI grant.



Minor and Gender & W om

“ For me, being

an ASAM minor means taking

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critique histories, engaging myself in campus and community advocacy programs, networking with scholarly

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2013–14: Nadine Naber joins UIC through the Chancellor’s Diaspora Cluster Initiative as a tenured 25% appointment in ASAM (75% appointment in GWS). Surbhi Malik joins ASAM as a one-year visiting faculty and introduces the Global Bollywood course. The new ASAM website and brochure are launched. Once again, no authorization for tenuretrack faculty hire in ASAM.

by multinational corporations, are moments where I think, "Wow, this is what praxis is... I'm able to apply these theories that I learned in my Politics of Asian American Food class or Asian American Women in the Global Economy class in everyday conversation with others and do something

of the best decisions that I have made during my 4 years of college. I used to identify myself as

broad Participant

American representation in the media to the subjugation of Asian women

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Those moments where you're able to respond to a peer's critique on something as mundane as a fortune cookie to the lack of Asian

“Being an Asian American Studies minor has been one


professors, and recognizing myself as a queer Filipino American.

simply Indian American. I rarely felt a part of the collective Asian America because South Asians are seldom [included]… when the term "Asian American" comes up. However, the ASAM minor has given me the opportunity to see history from a perspective

about it. The ASAM program acts like a bed of rich soil—it's helped

in which my story as a South Asian American is told… [For example],

a leader, an activist, and a healer. I’ve been encouraged to

about the globalized consumption of Indian Cinema … and validated

the Global Bollywood course has challenged me to critically think


communities of Asia and America that forge my

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identity as a South Asian American.” AS AM A

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the intertwined histories, identities, cultures, and



is through UIC's ASAM minor that I am able to appreciate ajo

become my mentors, friends,

experiences that were inclusive of other communities of color. It


caring faculty members and peers who've

my experiences as a South Asian American by analyzing cultural and historical politics that are exclusive to South Asians as well as

ra, Voh na

for myself. All this support and nurturing comes from

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re-imagine society, to create different realities, and to care

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me grow to become a confident person, an effective speaker,



Issue 2 | Spring 2014

ASAM FACULTY Anna Romina Guevarra is an Associate Professor and Director of Asian American Studies and Co-Principal Investigator of the UIC AANAPISI Initiative. Her scholarly, creative, and teaching interests focus on immigrant/transnational labor, the Filipino labor diaspora, and critical studies of community engagement and transnational feminist praxis. She is the author of Marketing Dreams and Manufacturing Heroes: The Transnational Labor Brokering of Filipino Workers. Professor Guevarra is currently working on several projects including the racialized and gendered dynamics of robotic technology and the techno-presence of disembodied migrant labor circulating as avatar teleeducation robots; community engagement and transnational feminist work in the context of political quilting and collective historicizing with communities of color; Filipino diaspora in terms of contemporary discourses of illegality and within neoliberal constructs of “supermaids” and super-workers.

Mark Chiang is an Associate Professor of Asian American Studies and English. He is currently working on a book that explores race, sexuality, and symbolic economies in American literature. Addressing current debates over debt and neoliberal economic policies, the book examines the impact of money and economic relations in the work of writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Louis Chu, Milton Murayama, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Chang-rae Lee. These works dramatize the complex ways in which minority communities have struggled to sustain social relations both within and against the destabilizing and disruptive effects of money. Professor Chiang has articles forthcoming on globalization in Jhumpa Lahiri and Yiyun Li's work, and cultural capital in Asian American literature. At UIC he has been involved in efforts to collect disaggregated data on students during the admissions process.

Nadine Naber is an Associate Professor of Gender & Women's Studies and Asian American Studies as a member of the Diaspora Studies Cluster. She came to UIC from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where she co-founded Arab American Studies, an Ethnic Studies unit within the Program in American Culture. She is author of Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism. Professor Naber is co-editor, with Rabab Abdulhadi and Evelyn Alsultany, of Arab and Arab American Feminisms, winner of the Arab American Book Award 2012.

Karen Su is the Principal Investigator and Project Director of the UIC AANAPISI Initiative, supporting programs to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and English language learner undergraduate students at UIC. She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies and teaches ASAM 105 seminars on Asian American children's literature, graphic novels, and life stories. With Professor Laura Fugikawa, Professor Su is co-teaching the summer 2014 faculty-led study abroad course to Japan: “Cross Currents of American and Japanese Cultures.” Professor Su has been at UIC since 2004 and was the founding director of the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center.

Learn more about Professor Naber in the Faculty Spotlight on page 11!

ASAM STAFF Jill Huynh is the Assistant Director of Asian American Studies and the Undergraduate Advisor for the UIC AANAPISI Initiative. In addition to managing the operations, human resources, finances, and communications of ASAM, she develops and leads advising efforts for Asian American, Pacific Islander, and English language learner students through the federally funded AANAPISI grant. Formerly an academic advisor and program specialist for the UIC Honors College, Jill was named Outstanding New Advisor by the National Academic Advising Association. Prior to UIC, Jill was engaged in multicultural recruitment and college access work at Smith College and the University of Washington.


Mary Anne Mohanraj is the Associate Coordinator of Asian American Studies and Clinical Assistant Professor in English. She is the author of Bodies in Motion, a Sri LankanAmerican novel-in-stories and nine other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards and has been translated into six languages. It was recently selected for the One Book, One Truman program at Truman College. Professor Mohanraj was recipient of a 2009 Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for Asian American arts organizing. She is the Executive Director of both DesiLit, an arts organization supporting South Asian and diaspora literature, and the SLF, an arts organization supporting speculative fiction. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Jaggery, a new South Asian literary magazine.

Issue 2 | Spring 2014




Gayatri Reddy is an Associate Professor of Gender & Women's Studies and Anthropology. Her research lies at the intersections of sexuality, gender, health, and the politics of subject-formation in India, as well as within immigrant South Asian queer communities in the U.S. She is the author of With Respect to Sex: Negotiating Hijra Identity in South India, an ethnography that problematizes representations of hijras as the socalled 'third sex' of India and challenges the sufficiency of sexuality and gender performativity as adequate glosses on hijra identification. Her research locates such figures, and sexuality more generally, within a broader field of social difference, exploring the intersections of gender and sexuality with religion, race, ethnicity, and class in South Asia and its diaspora. More recently, Professor Reddy has begun a research project exploring "African" and "Arab" diasporas in India, focusing on slave and soldier migratory histories that stretch from the pre-modern era to the contemporary period. Tracing these historical routes and geopolitical mappings through the play of gender/sexuality, this project explores the ways that race, gender, and sexuality are configured through caste, religion, and local contours of difference, to shape belonging.

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 was a Chancellors' Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before becoming a Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies at UIC. Her book manuscript, Displacements: the Cultural Politics of Relocation, is an analysis of narratives surrounding mid-twentieth century relocation and assimilation campaigns directed at Japanese American and American Indian communities.




Marketing Dreams and Manufacturing Heroes

The Cultural Capital of Asian American Studies


Arab America


Bodies in Motion


With Respect to Sex

Rooshey Hasnain is a Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor for ASAM’s Community Engagement Project and UIC’s Department of Disability and Human Development. She is also part of the U.S. Department of Education’s AANAPISI Initiative, which helps to promote communitycampus partnerships that enhance academic success, leadership, advocacy, and social change among Chicago’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In addition, she is Principal Investigator of the Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank, which aims to improve vocational rehabilitation and employment outcomes for people with disabilities and is affiliated with the Center on Capacity Building for Minorities with Disabilities Research. Her primary interests and research agendas focus on understanding the lives, challenges, and strengths of people with disabilities and mental health conditions, especially those from refugee and immigrant backgrounds, and on developing innovative and culturally relevant interventions that help to improve quality-oflife outcomes. Surbhi Malik received her Ph.D. in English, with a concentration in Gender & Women’s Studies, from UIC. She held an American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship for 2012–2013 prior to joining ASAM as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Her broader research and teaching interests include interdisciplinary approaches to Asian American literature and culture, South Asian and Muslim diasporas, Bollywood and South Asian diasporic cinema, U.S. multiethnic literature, and postcolonial and transnational feminisms. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled, The Diasporic Itinerary: Literary and Cinematic Geographies of South Asian Diaspora, which examines the centrality of the contrast between Britain and the United States in the production and interpretation of South Asian cultural expression. Her work has been published in the Journal of Creative Communications.



Issue 2 | Spring 2014

THE UIC AANAPISI INITIATIVE Supporting the recruitment, retention, and graduation of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and English language learner students at UIC

What is “ANna-pee-zee”? The University of Illinois at Chicago is an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI). It is federally recognized as a minority-serving institution that educates underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and has been granted U.S. Department of Education funding to support their recruitment, retention, and graduation. Many of UIC’s students are immigrant, low-income, and/or first-generation college students, and the UIC AANAPISI Initiative is intended to benefit not just AAPI students but also English language learners and other UIC students who participate in AANAPISI programs. AANAPISI funding is used to enhance students’ academic experiences, connect them to off-campus community, and strengthen student support. Asian American Studies is the proud institutional sponsor of the UIC AANAPISI Initiative. It supports Asian American Studies by funding core

Lisa Patel, mentored by Karen Su, was awarded a research grant for her project that used a sari to educate children about cholera. Photo by Liz Thomson

Asian American Disney Princesses project by Donnie Chang and Kim Navoa, creative arts grant recipients. Photo by Liz Thomson


ASAM 428 students presenting their class project at the 2013 ASAM Expo. Photo by Liz Thomson

curricular and co-curricular endeavors, such as Asian American Studies faculty teaching new courses, including two new summer study abroad programs (in India and Japan), the annual Knowledge Bowl and lecture series, the ASAM Community Engagement Project (CEP) the research and creative arts grants for undergraduates to pursue independent projects, and also the end-of-year ASAM Expo that features their grant projects and other student projects from ASAM courses. However, the impact of the UIC AANAPISI Initiative goes far beyond the Asian American Studies Program itself. It also enhances vital programs at the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, the Writing Center, the First-Year Writing Program, and more. Additionally, a large-scale mixed methods study of AAPI students at UIC is being conducted thanks to AANAPISI funding. The research from an online demographic survey and in-person focus groups and interviews of AAPI undergraduate students will provide rich insights on the diverse needs and experiences of AAPI undergraduates at UIC since very little information from disaggregated student data has been available before. Recognizing the benefits of disaggregating data to understand specific student needs better, UIC has recently convened a Task Force to implement the disaggregation of all student data, not just AAPI student data.

ASAM minor Vicky Tai presenting her video project, “Basketball,” at the 2013 ASAM Expo. Photo by Liz Thomson

Issue 2 | Spring 2014


Kevin Kumashiro, Sharon Lee, Mark Chiang, and Karen Su with AANAPISI hats at the AARCC Ice Cream Social. Photo by Liz Thomson

What’s New This Year? Academic Advising for AAPI and ELL Students Before AANAPISI, UIC did not offer targeted academic advising support for Asian American, Pacific Islander, or English language learner students. Starting this year, however, students participating in AANAPISI programs have access to supplemental advising for academic planning, registration, campus resource, financial, and other questions or assistance. ASAM Assistant Director Jill Huynh’s other “hat” is AANAPISI Undergraduate Advisor.

Educational Employment Grant — Pilot Program In collaboration with Student Employment and the Office of Career Services, the pilot program of the AANAPISI Educational Employment Grant began in spring of 2014. More than fourteen new and existing student employees are participating in the pilot and working with UIC faculty, staff, and units focusing on research or office projects. Concurrent to their employment, student employees, along with their supervisors, are engaging in a guided career development framework aimed at building career skills to support lifelong professional success. ASAM student employees participating in the AANAPISI Educational Employment Grant are Amena Khan ’15 (Political Science major with ASAM and Sociology minors), who has been with the Asian American Studies Program as a general office aide since Fall 2013, and Mary Catherine Mariano ’15 (History major) who joined ASAM as a research aide this semester. The full Educational Employment Grant program will be launched in summer and fall of 2014.

What’s Next for AANAPISI at UIC? UIC is very fortunate to have received not just one but two AANAPISI grants, totaling almost $4 million However, the vital funding for many of these core programs at UIC may begin to disappear in 2015 as the first grant concludes. We are gearing up for another grant cycle to open in order to ensure that UIC programs serving AAPI and ELL students can continue. While the 153 institutions eligible to be AANAPISIs in 2012 represented only 3.4 percent of all post-secondary institutions in the U.S. higher education system, they enrolled 41.2 percent of AAPI undergraduates nationally and awarded 25.3 percent of the bachelors degrees that AAPI students earned (CARE Report pp5–6). As the only funded AANAPISI in the Midwest, UIC contributes to the educational success of AAPI students nationwide. See the CARE Report of June 2013 issued by the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education for more information about the impact of AANAPISIs on AAPI student success: report/APIASF_and_CARE_PEER_Report_June_2013.pdf

For more information about the UIC AANAPISI Initiative, visit or Questions? Contact Karen Su, AANAPISI PI and Project Director, at or (312) 996-8530.

Celebrating the 2013 ASAM Expo Grant recipients. Photo by Liz Thomson



Issue 2 | Spring 2014

FACULTY-LED STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM The Asian American Studies Program offers an annual faculty-led summer study abroad program to Asia. Funded in part by the AANAPISI Initiative, these programs are developed and taught by ASAM faculty and provide students with opportunities to explore a range of issues pertaining to social justice in different global contexts. Professors Anna Guevarra and Gayatri Reddy developed and taught a course on “Labor, Gender and Food in India” for summer 2012 and 2013. This course explored how global capitalism is reshaping the social, political, economic, and cultural landscape of urban and rural communities in India, specifically in terms of food production, distribution, and consumption. The course also interrogated what a study of food systems in India revealed about gender relations, development, and social justice. The course began in Chicago and continued in New Delhi for a few days before moving to Udaipur, in the desert state of Rajasthan, for the remainder of the term. As part of the curriculum, students engaged with a set of readings geared toward better understanding issues of social justice in India and unpacking the intersections between labor, gender, migration, and food studies. As an integral part of the curriculum and with the able, patient, and dedicated support of Rishi Chaturvedi, the on-site program coordinator in India, students were given the opportunity to interact with individuals and organizations that focus expressly on redressing inequalities and injustice. For example, prominent Gandhian thinker and environmentalist, Kishore Saint, educated students about environmental degradation and watershed management issues in Rajasthan; students learned about the precarity of the informal labor market through active engagement with Aajeevika Bureau, an organization that provides much needed services and training programs to seasonal migrants in Rajasthan; and they learned about food security and sustainable agriculture from the work of Vandana Shiva and the organization she founded, Navdanya, which helps train farmers on issues of seed sovereignty and maintains an active network of seed banks across the country.


2012 India Study Abroad Group in front of Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi. Photo by Rishi Chaturvedi

Caesar Sanchez, Gayatri Reddy, and Bridgit Gallagher at a batik-making workshop taught by world renowned batik artists—the late Dr. Abdul Majid and his wife, Rashida Banu. Photo by Anna Romina Guevarra

“My trip to India over the Summer of 2013 was transformative in every sense. Not only did my experience allow me to learn about the myriad of different cultures in the country, but I also forged lasting bonds with the students and faculty on the trip. This program allowed me to see [how] social justice and solidarity are not passive subjects in a textbook.” Christy Sickle, Gender & Women’s Studies Major; 2013 India Study Abroad Program Participant

Issue 2 | Spring 2014


The students then put this knowledge to work with a number of field-based activities, including a number of fun projects like mapping the social organization of a marketplace, tracing the history and political economy of a local ingredient, as well as doing a “mini-ethnography” of a local eating establishment to observe the social organization of work. The course also included a village stay in rural Rajasthan, where students were hosted by families and participated in their daily activities—including ferrying manure and rocks to their agricultural fields!—in addition to engaging with rural organizations working on issues of social justice. The coursework was supplemented with a number of co-curricular activities such as batik-making, learning how to perform local folk dances and play Indian musical instruments, as well as navigating basic conversational Hindi. As students who went on these study abroad trips attest, the course was personally and intellectually one of the most stimulating and rewarding experiences of their lives, even as it was quite possibly the hardest test of their patience and fortitude in temperatures that were regularly 100 degrees Fahrenheit!

Anna Guevarra and Naomi Salcedo learning how to play the sitar in India. Photo courtesy of Rishi Chaturvedi

“I found myself face to face with concepts I read about; I found myself in places

and spaces gaining new perspectives about the world around me. That summer imbued in me the desire to pursue the knowledge and understanding of our globalized society…I am a different person than the one that I could have been, had I not taken this step.” Naomi Leilani Salcedo, ASAM Minor and 2013 India Study Abroad Program Participant


“Cross Currents of American and Japanese Cultures” with Professors Laura Sachiko Fugikawa and Karen Su Six-week course from mid-June through July

Program Description This interdisciplinary comparative study abroad program explores the similarities, divergences, and crosscultural circulation of each nation’s cultural life from the mid20 th century post war period to the contemporary moment. This course is organized around two major interconnected themes that serve as touch points of our comparative study: history and cultural representations of WWII and its aftermaths and emerging expressions of gender and sexuality.

Special Features: • Ghibli Studio visit • 5-day field trip to Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Nikko • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum visit • Guest lectures on post-war gender and sexuality, anti-nuclear organizing, and pop culture

2013 India Study Abroad Participants at the Taj Mahal. Photo by Albert Miliauskas

“The Hindi I learned in my morning class allowed me to communicate with the people [who] were most affected: those in the informal sector, the agricultural sector and those who were working to improve conditions. This type of first-hand learning allowed a view into how these issues intersect with one another which is something that a classroom cannot provide. The program also helped me develop soft skills which are important to have in any field. It was necessary to be able to communicate in such a way that I got my message across and also in a way that was not offensive.” Caesar Sanchez, Mathematics Major and 2012 India Study Abroad Program Participant


Issue 2 | Spring 2014



Students at the 2013 ASAM Fall Mixer. Photo by Maggie Mui

UIC Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Astrida Tantillo engaging with students at the 2012 ASAM Expo. Photo by Liz Thomson

The Asian American Studies Program builds upon a long legacy of student involvement, creating curricular and co-curricular opportunities for engaging students and actively supporting their success. The following are current examples of this effort.

Advisory Board The ASAM Student Advisory Board consists of an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students minoring in Asian American Studies, graduate students whose work has some connection to the program, and students who are part of an organization serving Asian American students. It was established in 2011 when the program bylaws were created. Members provide feedback on ASAM-related matters, curriculum, programming, and student outreach. Students are voted upon by the ASAM faculty after being nominated to serve on the board.

ASAM Expo Grants for Student Research and the Arts Funded by the AANAPISI grant, ASAM holds an annual competition for undergraduate students to receive up to $1,000 to pursue independent research and/or creative arts projects about and with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Students work with faculty mentors and present their projects at the annual ASAM Expo event at the end of the spring semester. These projects have included a variety of substantive topics presented in different forms, including video documentaries, comic books, stop motion animation, poster presentations, graphic narratives, photo montages, plays, and spoken word performances.

ing from how the Chicago Dyke March Collective can engage with a wide variety of constituent groups in a predominantly Vietnamese immigrant neighborhood, to describing the service and advocacy efforts of Asian American community organizations in Chicago, to tracing the political economy of a food ingredient and its relation to Asian American histories, and to producing anti-corporate adbuster campaigns to spread awareness about Asian American women in the global economy.

Knowledge Bowl Since 2008, teams of undergraduate students have competed in the annual ASAM Knowledge Bowl where their knowledge of Asian American histories, politics, literature, food, and popular culture is cheered on by the audience and judges. This event serves as a fun way for students to connect with ASAM faculty and alumni, providing a gateway to the program and the minor.

Course Projects Each year, undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in ASAM courses present their semester-long class projects at the annual ASAM Expo event. Students showcase work rang-


Brandon Lee, UIC alumnus, acts as the Knowledge Bowl emcee. Photo by Maggie Mui

Issue 2 | Spring 2014


ASAM COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT The Asian American Studies Program creates transformative learning spaces based on a critical understanding of “community engagement.” As a core thematic focus of ASAM, community engagement is both a practice and process. It links the academy and community on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues while interrogating this very process, addressing both academic and local needs, and acknowledging the challenges inherent in this relationship. ASAM gives students curricular, research, and programmatic opportunities that aim to connect them to AAPI communities, locally and globally, and offers the theoretical and analytic tools and frames to engage in this work.

Community Engagement Project The ASAM Community Engagement Project (CEP), led by Professor Rooshey Hasnain and funded and supported by AANAPISI, seeks to enhance the ASAM curriculum by connecting students to AAPI communities. Since 2012, through the ASAM 490 course, “Mental Health, Asian Americans, and Community Engagement,” Professor Hasnain has collaborated with theatre organizations and AAPI community based organizations. This course gives students hands-on learning opportunities as they collect and transform real life stories into docudrama scripts that are turned into theatrical stage productions. The Spring 2013 production, “The Small Dark Room,” collaborated with a theatre company, Erasing the Distance. The Spring 2014 production, “Silencing Stigma: Speaking Out,” is the result of partnering with CIRCA Pintig, a community arts organization. ASAM CEP is also developing an interactive online database. This platform will encourage community organizations, student organizations, and faculty/staff within and outside of UIC to learn about the work each is doing and identify AAPI synergies and interests that may result in internships, research, curricular, and programmatic collaborations. ASAM CEP has also been a pathway for student involvement through the ASAM CEP Task Force. In fall of 2012, the ASAM CEP Task Force, was instrumental in coordinating “KIN-ETIC: Activating Asian American Students in Civic-Community Life.” This event brought together students, faculty/staff, community organizers, activists, and other leaders to explore and share resources about civic-community projects centered on the needs and strengths of Chicago’s AAPI community.

Collaborative Research Projects Anna Guevarra’s “Collective Historicizing” project with Chicago’s Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) and CIRCA Pintig explores the development and implementation of community-based historicizing workshops. The project fuses artistic media and storytelling exercises to

Audience at 2012 KIN-ETIC event. Photo by Kathy Xiong

creatively engage community members in civic issues and explore possibilities of movement building in contemporary Midwest America. Another collaborative project with AFIRE, funded by an IRRPP Policy on Social Engagement Fellowship, explores the development of a strategic plan for mobilizing Filipino domestic workers in Chicago to build support for the passage of the Illinois Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights. Rooshey Hasnain’s project, Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank (ADOPT) with UIC’s Center for Capacity Building on Minorities with Disabilities Research, involves partnering with organizations that serve immigrants and refugees in the Greater Chicago Area. ADOPT aims to increase vocational rehabilitation, employment access, and participation of job seekers with disabilities in the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services.


Professor Nadine Naber was awarded an Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement Public Discourse Grant for her project, “Ending Violence among Arab and Muslim Immigrants: A Discourse on Social Contexts and Solutions.” In collaboration with the Arab American Action Network of Chicago, Professor Naber held a community based dialogue in February 2014 to focus on the challenges of immigration and settlement faced by Arab Muslim immigrant women living in poverty in Chicago. Also the recipient of the prestigious UIC Great Cities Institute Faculty Scholar Award for her project, "Ending Violence against Arab Women: Transnational Approaches across Cities," Professor Naber will be in residence at the Great Cities Institute for 2014-2015. To add to her accomplishments she received a Curriculum Instructional Grant from UIC's Council for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for teaching Arab American and Muslim American Studies. Professor Naber's international reputation is evident in her selection as an International Fellow with the Open Society Foundation’s Academic Fellowship Program to work with the Institute of Women’s Studies at Birzeit University in Palestine.


Issue 2 | Spring 2014

INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER TSANG UIC Alumna and “ASAMovement� Video Producer

Q: How did you get involved with the ASAM movement at UIC?

Q: What would you tell students about the value of Asian American Studies?

J: At the time, I was interested in the Asian American Coalition Committee's outreach and programming. Upon joining AACC, the push for ASAM was an ongoing priority that became my link to getting involved.

J: The value of Asian American Studies is more than learning about one's culture or history; it is also an acknowledgement of how far Asian Americans have come along in American culture and its history. In this vein, it shows us the potential of what we have yet to learn and what we can explore.

Q:How did you come to choose this digital medium to document the movement? J: Originally, the idea sprang from wanting to outreach to more students and how to garner their attention. I chose YouTube because it was, and still is, hugely popular and was easy for people to view and share. I've also had previous experience in creating videos so it was a good fit for the content we wanted to share. Q:What was your inspiration for each of the videos? J: My inspiration came from two places: one, from people who have supported the UIC ASAM movement on a local and national level, such as Helen Zia and Giant Robot founders, Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong. Two, from student groups who struggled similarly for ethnic studies programming such as Northwestern University when students held a 24-day hunger strike for Asian American Studies.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of Asian American Studies at UIC? J: My hope is that one day, UIC will establish and grow an Asian American Studies program that rivals even UCLA. While that aspiration may be a long way off, I hope that UIC demonstrates its commitment to ASAM by hiring and retaining faculty in these fields. Q: What is Jenny Tsang up to now? J: As for my usual self, I've been checking out new places to eat. No plate left unturned! For the budget conscious UIC student, I highly recommend Ghareeb Nawaz Express for its affordable rates, hefty portions and unique Indian/Pakistan dishes. For those who fear no carbs, Eataly's focaccia bread is equally delicious and wallet friendly.

CHECK OUT THE Students must complete 15 semester hours, including at least 9 semester hours at or above the 200-level, from the list of courses approved by the ASAM Committee. Only one Asian Studies or Asian language course may be used towards minor requirements.

Lux Molina, ASAM minor, at a rally. Photo by Anna Romina Guevarra

Further, at least two of the four courses must be from different disciplinary fields (for example, English, Sociology, History, Anthropology, etc.), orotherwise approved by the minor advisor. For more information, contact Professor Anna Guevarra, at



Anna Guevarra Jill Huynh Mary Anne Mohanraj


ASAMovement Newsletter, Issue 2  
ASAMovement Newsletter, Issue 2  

UIC Asian American Studies Program Spring 2014 Newsletter