Dissertation Title: “In Pursuit of A Double-Edged Sword: The Politics of Racial Liberalism and Racial Triangulation in Seattle, 1940-1975”
Doctoral Committee: Natalia Molina, Kirstie Dorr, Luis Alvarez, Curtis Marez, Shelley Streeby
Dissertation Abstract:“In Pursuit of A Double-Edged Sword: The Politics of Racial Liberalism and Racial Triangulation in Seattle, 1940-1975” examines the historical constructions of racial liberalism in Seattle and analyzes their impact on the sociopolitical standing of the city’s Asian Americans and African Americans, its two largest nonwhite communities. Between 1940 and 1975, programs and accomplishments in the area of racial politics reinforced a widespread notion that Seattle, a city amenable to liberal policies and social experimentation, had few racial problems. While many major cities experienced outbreaks of racial violence and witnessed development of expansive ghettoes during this period, Seattle was never site to any race riots, nor did it have any ghettoes comparable in size or deterioration to those that would capture the national spotlight in the 1960s. Bolstering perceptions of Seattle as a paragon of race relations were a series of prominent undertaking by city officials and residents that sought to promote core tenets of racial liberalism--such as racial integration, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism—as well as allocate unprecedented levels of civic resources and government assistance funds to nonwhite populations. Using four such projects as case studies, I explore the implications that Seattle’s brand of racial liberalism bore for national constructions of racial hierarchies and white privilege during the height of U.S. liberal politics. Throughout my analyses, I will demonstrate that racial liberalism was a double-edged sword for Seattle’s nonwhite populations. Even though Asian Americans and African Americans gained unprecedented access to socioeconomic mobility and governmental resources, a critical examination of Seattle’s racial liberalist projects reveals that socioeconomic gains were very limited and were frequently circumscribed by political devices that served to reinforce white privilege and racial triangulation of the city’s Asian Americans and African Americans. In the end, racial liberalism and racial triangulation served to position the city’s Asian Americans and African Americans against one another in competition for resources while still allocating the lion’s share to white populations. Such developments in a city that labeled itself to be a paragon of racial liberalism is thus highly instructive of how comparable projects functioned on a national scale.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of History and Political Science, Long Beach City College
Dissertation Title: "Making Space in a Militarized Global City: The Racial and Gendered Politics of Producing Space for Black Queer Women in San Diego."
Doctoral Committee: Yen Espiritu, Chair; Fatima El-Tayeb, Co-Chair; Roshanak Kheshti, Dayo Gore, Boatema Boateng
Dissertation Abstract: This dissertation, Making Space in a Militarized Global City: The Racial and Gendered Politics of Producing Space for Black Queer Women in San Diego, examines histories of black queer women during different historical moments that defy a politics of respectability in relation to sexuality, class and gender performance. I re-read archives and conduct interviews with a different focus that not only explains why histories of certain black queer women are invisible, but also what these stories can reveal about black life in general. The dissertation is organized into three chapters. In the first chapter, "Racializing and Gendering Sin in Early 20th Century San Diego," I use Maya Angelou's autobiographical text, Gather Together in my Name (1974), to discuss how her entrepreneurship efforts within San Diego's sex tourism industry in the 1940s--in which many of her clients were white U.S. service men--defied normative black respectability. Chapter 2, "Alternative Safe Spaces," uses the oral history of Granville "Bubba" Hughes, a black trans woman who migrated to San Diego in 1965 from Arizona, to understand how gay neighborhoods are not always safe for black queer women. Through her narrative I examine how mixed-race, working-class neighborhoods figure as alternatives to gay enclaves in the mid-20th century. In Chapter 3, "Properly Political," I show how black lesbian and gay activists, beginning in the 1980s, challenged racism within the San Diego gay neighborhood, which later inspired the Mackey-Cua Project--a multi-generational LGBT group. This project explains how and why certain narratives are absent from the historical and social imaginary. I show how black queer women make alternatives forms of space that diverge from masculinist revisionist histories, gay enclaves as safe spaces, and consumerism catering to the national body politic.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, University of Missouri, Department of Black Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies
Dissertation Title: “Justice and Its Others: On the Politics of Redress for Japanese Latin Americans.”
Doctoral Committee: Yen Espiritu, Chair; Victor Bascara, John Blanco, Ross Frank, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Kalindi Vora
Dissertation Abstract: In 2013, the Civil Liberties Act (CLA) of 1988, the U.S. government legislation which provided for a formal apology and a payment of $20,000 to each surviving Japanese American citizen and Japanese resident alien interned during World War II, celebrated its twentieth-fifth anniversary. Indeed, since its passage, the CLA has been upheld as a piece of "landmark legislation"--a precedent and even a model for subsequent redress and reparations movements; these are movements not only within the U.S. but around the world. Still, I find that the so-called "success" of Japanese American redress remains haunted--haunted by the memories of the 2,264 Japanese Latin Americans (JLAs) who were, in effect, kidnapped upon U.S. order by the governments of thirteen Latin American countries and brought to U.S. concentration camps whereby hundreds were then used in a U.S. hostage exchange program with Japan. Despite their efforts, these internees were denied recognition under the CLA and only after filing a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government in 1998 were offered a sum of just $5,000. This dissertation maps the varied discourses marking the subsequent attempts at governmental redress for the JLA deportation and internment program over the last thirty some years. Probing the question of historical justice for racialized state violence within the overlapping contexts of U.S. empire and international human rights regimes, it asks: What are the transformative possibilities and limits of "redress" as the late-modern paradigmatic logic for racial/social justice, including its underlying liberal humanist ethicality of violence, redemption and justice? What does this case in particular open up in terms of the politics of knowledge and historical justice concerning U.S. global reach and hegemony in the Americas and U.S. empire more broadly at the current global historical moment? Ultimately, this project, deploying a rigorously interdisciplinary approach, both illuminates the very paradigmatic violence of redress as late-modern juridical justice, including its formative role as a fundamental condition of U.S. empire since the end of the cold war, and, at the same time, reveals the very paradigmatic productivity of such violence--its opening up of alternative imaginings and praxis of justice located not within the law itself but precisely in its critique and deconstruction
Dissertation Title: “Critical Race Poetics and the Ghostly Matter of U.S. v. Narciso and Perez”
Doctoral Committee: Davis, Zeinabu, Anderson, Patrick, Boateng, Boatema, Blanco, John, Yang, K. Wayne
Dissertation Abstract: Situated within the interrelated fields of critical race theory and ethnic studies and the emergent field of creative writing studies, this dissertation interrogates the ways in which racist state violence is researched, historicized, and reimagined. Specifically, I focus on U.S. v. Narciso and Perez (1977), a court case in which two Filipina migrant nurses, Filipina Narciso and my mother, Leonora Perez, were criminalized and framed by the FBI for poisoning and murdering patients at the Ann Arbor VA Hospital in Michigan. Focusing on this case, I pursue two critical impulses: I blend narrative interventions in critical race theory with contemporary practices in documentary poetics in order to conceptualize, propose, and perform what I call critical race poetics; and, in turn, I perform critical race poetics as an alternative mode for understanding U.S. v. Narciso and Perez in particular and theorizing racist state violence in general. Guided by my mother's insight that "there is no American justice," I begin with an analysis of historical productions about U.S. v. Narciso and Perez, my own previous body of work included. Then, I perform critical race poetics--in the form of a poem cycle--as a way of rearticulating the cultural and historical significances of U.S. v. Narciso and Perez. I argue that critical race poetics is a generative methodology through which archives of racist state violence are critically reassembled, reprocessed, and reanimated. And ultimately, through critical race poetics, I carry out my mother's theoretical insight that for her, for Filipina Narciso, and for other targets of racist state violence, American justice remains elusive, if not impossible.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, California State University-San Bernardino
Dissertation Title: “Toward a Native Feminist Reading Methodology.”
Doctoral Committee: K. Wayne Yang, Chair; Denise Ferreira da Silva, Co-Chair; Yen Espiritu, Zeinabu Davis, Ross Frank, Mattie Harper
Dissertation Abstract: My dissertation introduced a Native feminist reading methodology as a transhistorical methodology that resists disappearance and affirms presence. It is a methodology that sees ghosts and answers them. I read historical texts, paintings and quilts, family photographs and films. It is a methodology that involves reading against disappearance; it involves reading futures yet in store for Native lives. I draw upon the work of many Native feminist scholars including, Lee Maracle (1988), Ines Hernández-Avila (2005), Jennifer Denetdale (2007), Eve Tuck (2009), Michelle Raheja (2010), Chris Finley (2011), Dian Million (2013), Michelle Jacob (2013), Mishuana Goeman (2013), Leanne Simpson (2013), Audra Simpson (2014), Maile Arvin (2015), and so many others, because I understand their writing as practices of reading survivance. I also draw on my ancestors, their lives, their stories and their refusals. Extending arguments of recognition, this methodology is an act of recognition. That these readings are practiced by Indigenous feminists is not meant to make reading a kind of essential magical ability of Indian women, but rather I take the standpoint that the reading practice is something done to bear futures into existence, just as similar practices were done by our predecessors. It is this shared ontological project of bearing the future out of a genocidal present that connects Native feminists now and Native women then; in this respect it is a survivance practice that recognizes itself within a tradition of survivance. In short, a Native feminist reading methodology is reading as self-recognition. Throughout the chapters I used examples of Native feminist methodologies, including Audra Simpson's ethnographic refusal and Eve Tuck's desire-based research, Michelle Raheja's visual sovereignty and Leanne Simpson and Maile Arvin's regeneration as a response to being possessed by whiteness. Throughout I use haunting as a methodology adapted from sociologist Avery Gordon's work and drawing upon Tuck and C. Ree's theorizing. What is gained from Native feminist methodologies is the work of trusting our knowledge, and bringing that knowledge through primarily Western institutions to one another as a form of recognition. My dissertation is an intervention and participation in that ongoing decolonizing project.
Current Position: Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Department of Native American Studies University of California, Davis
Dissertation Title: "Contested Terrains: Family, Intimacy and War Memories"
Doctoral Committee: Yen Espiritu, Chair; Sara Kaplan, Kalindi Vora, Kamala Visweswaran and George Mariscal
Dissertation Abstract: Contested Terrains: Family, Intimacy, and War Memories--is a multi-genre analysis of Vietnamese refugee families and the memory of the Vietnam War. Sociological analyses of the second-generation typically center family dynamics as either the predictor of social outcomes of adaptation or the source of conflict within the family. I engage family as a mode of inquiry, rather than a unit of analysis, to explore alternative experiences, discourses, and artistic renderings that move beyond state-sponsored social science narratives about assimilation and intergenerational conflict. I challenge the ways these discourses naturalize these problems within the family, and examine these dynamics as expressive of larger structures of racism and the legacies of war. Turning to Vietnamese American second-generation literature, poetry and art as sites of alternative knowledge about family and war, I challenge the social scientific construction of the family as the site of successful assimilation, and instead theorize the refugee family as the site of critical inquiry and knowledge about the Vietnam War. Engaging cultural studies and literary methodologies in my close readings, I critically historicize the Vietnamese family as productions of a particular historical moment at the nexus of the Cold War--US intervention, and the mobilization of civil rights, I call attention to the racialized meanings embedded in the figure and the ideological functions that refugees and the war have been called upon to serve. My dissertation’s contributions to ethnic studies has been to examine both the family and Vietnamese refugees within the larger historical and racial contexts from which they emerged, and trace the ideological function of the continued assertion of refugee success. This dissertation also brings together the social science literature on refugee adaptation, feminist and queer critiques of heteronormative family formation, and ethnic studies scholarship on critical refugee studies
Current Position: Lecturer, University of California, San Diego, Ethnic Studies Department
Starting Fall 2017: Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, Dept. of American Ethnic Studies
Dissertation Title: "Between Ethnic Minority and Diaspora: Zainichi Koreans in the era of Global War on Terror.”
Doctoral Committee: Yen Espiritu, Chair; Jin -Kyung Lee, John Lie, Kalindi Vora, K. Wayne Yang, Lisa Yoneyama
Abstract: My dissertation examines the negotiation of citizenship and belonging among Zainichi Koreans (Koreans in Japan) in contemporary Japan. My analysis focuses on the pro-North Korean schools that have become a target of state sanctions, racist hate crimes and media misrepresentation since the revelation of North Korean abductions of Japanese civilians on September 17, 2002. Situating Japan’s anti-North Korean sentiments in a broader context of the global War on Terror, my dissertation reveals how the War on Terror has shaped Japan’s national security discourses and practices, and how the United States has turned the issue of Japanese abductees into an “American” concern, together constructing North Korea as a military and moral threat and justifying various sanctions against North Korea and its associates including those in Japan including pro-North Korean schools.
Through ethnographic observation and in-depth interviews, as well as analysis on newspaper articles, government documents, court transcripts, blog entries and tweets, my dissertation examines various survival strategies and tactics that Korean schools have employed. In their efforts to bring life to the space that is meant to disappear, members of the Korean schools devote material, intellectual, cultural and affective labors. In order to navigate and defy the stigma as well as material and symbolic consequences of being labeled as “(potential) terrorists,” Korean schools have also mobilized cultural and political discourses and practices, specifically employing “multicultural coexistence” (tabunka kyōsei) and “students are innocent” narrative as viable frameworks to explain why they are legible and sympathetic subjects. I argue that Zainichi Koreans’ recent social movements on local, national and international levels challenge the traditional pathways to belonging, and disavow full inclusion as the basis of claiming civil rights, while at the same time illuminating the limits of liberal multiculturalism that seeks to depoliticize and dehistoricize Korean schools and education. Simultaneously Korean diasporic subjects and ethnic minorities of Japan, Zainichi Koreans (re)claim ideological and emotional ties with their homeland(s) while claiming full membership and equal rights in Japan, posing a radical alternative to imagining “minority politics” that is not simply about liberal incorporation, but also about engaging in unthinkable politics.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Meiji University, Japan
Dissertation Title: “Re-examining Diversity Policy at University of California, San Diego: The Racial Politics of Asian Americans"
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Espiritu; K. Wayne Yang, Ross Frank, Linda Trinh Vo, Olga Vasquez
Abstract: My research examines how Asian Americans at University of California, San Diego engage in a discourse around self-determination, internationalization, and diversity from 1960 to the present. In a post-racial era where colorblindness and meritocracy shape diversity policy at an elite California public university, the growth of Asian American college students continue to baffle university administrators and educators in how to create diversity policy that tackles their needs and concerns. From locating the first political Asian American student organization, movement to create the Lumumba-Zapata College and an Asian American Studies minor, to the student actions against the racist Compton Cookout incidents mocking Black History Month, I address how a university administration responded to the racial discourse around diversity at an historically white institution. Research results indicate that the university administration failed to recognize Asian American student needs and concerns in developing diversity policy. The university’s narrow understanding of Asian Americans is rooted in a black-white framework of tackling the achievement gap, which allowed them to understand Asian American student experiences only in relation to white student success and black student struggles. Asian American racialization as model minorities and yellow perils erases their experiences as an undeserved minority group. The dissertation provides counter-stories and research data that challenges UC San Diego to re-examine diversity policy to consider Asian American student experiences and needs. Using a mixed-methods approach of ethnography, interviews, surveys, archives, and a discourse analysis, this study offers insights to creating a more transformative diversity policy that positively shapes the experiences of all students on campus.
Current Position: Language Arts Tutorial Services Coordinator, OASIS, UCSD.
Dissertation Title: "Savory Politics: Land, Memory, and the Ecological Occupation of Palestine."
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Espiritu; Ivan Evans, Gary Fields, Adria Imada, Roshanak Kheshti, Dick Madsen
Abstract: Using the olive as an optic, I conduct multi-sited, interdisciplinary research to explore the complex manifestations of settler-colonialism, using the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank as my case study. Broadly, I argue that settler-colonialism relies on both material and cultural mechanisms of disappearing native peoples. I elucidate this dual nature of settler-colonialism by analyzing the neoliberal consumption of Palestinian olive oil and popular visual representations of Palestinian bodies against the ongoing material transformation of Palestinian landscapes--processes I collectively conceptualize as vanishment. The signification of the olive is not only symbolic; in fact, Palestinian livelihoods are contingent upon the thriving of the olive and its extractions for culinary, bodily, spiritual, and cultural reasons. As Palestinians continue to experience the decimation of their olive groves, the consumption of Palestinian olive oil has become increasingly popular through transnational fair trade circuits. I examine the racialized and gendered tropes of Palestinian indigeneity--thus bringing Food Studies into conversation with Cultural Studies, Critical Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies and Postcolonial Theory. I end with an alternative reading of the olive that sees it as a site where Palestinian women are able to recover and transmit memory to their children and enact a form of self-determination in the face of pending vanishment. Through performance ethnography including olive oil tasting, olive harvesting, and eating, as well as interviews with the olive producers, olive oil exporters, and living with farmers and their families, this dissertation project offers new theoretical questions about the ways in which settler-colonialism, and the processes of vanishing native peoples and their subjectivities, coresides with neoliberal, multicultural tropes of contingent humanity.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Former UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-2016).
Dissertation Title: " Think With Your Feet : The Cultural Politics of Native Dance"
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Curtis Marez; Ross Frank, Kirstie Dorr, Jorge Mariscal, Luis Alvarez
Abstract: Drawing upon seven years of extensive ethnographic research in multiple regions in the U.S. Southwest, this dissertation presents a qualitative, transregional study of the contemporary indigenous practice of Danza Azteca in the United States. This study is driven by several questions. How do Chicanos/Mexicans enact political agency in the face of white supremacy? Put another way, what are the ways that marginal communities organize themselves to resist the destructive legacies of colonialism? Critical analysis of Danza Azteca asks, what types of political narratives are embedded in Native dances, thus forcing us to ask in more compelling ways, what stories do Native dances tell? How is Native dance an alternative sphere that combats power relations within dominant society? How do these ceremonial dances contest power and historical oppression? What do they signify and how do they complicate the boundaries of colonial history and dominant paradigms? I began with the assumptions that Native dance has the potential to be political and could be a form of oppositional consciousness but how? I set out to discover how people organized not just as victims but as agents, and I let my interactions within the cultural circuit of Danza guide parts of the research. This research offers an analysis of the political, cultural, and spiritual significance of the dance form. In the chapters that follow, Danza Azteca is an all encompassing space of political possibility that connects seemingly disparate sites such as formal education, Mexican women's leadership and group interactions amongst Native Americans and Mexicans in the U.S. and México. Ultimately, Danza Azteca is a practice that bridges Native spirituality and politics.
Dissertation Title: Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the "Almost White" Polynesian Race.
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Ross Frank; Co-Chair: Denise Ferreira da Silva; Adria Imada, K. Wayne Yang, Andrea Smith, Catherina Gere
Abstract: This dissertation analyzes how scientific knowledge has represented the Polynesian race as an essentially mixed, "almost white" race. Nineteenth and twentieth century scientific literature--spanning the disciplines of ethnology, physical anthropology, sociology and genetics--positioned Polynesians as the biological relatives of Caucasians. Scientific proof of this relationship allowed scientists, policymakers, and popular media to posit European and American settler colonialism in the Pacific as a peaceful and natural fulfillment of a biological destiny. Understanding knowledge as an important agent of settler colonial possession--in the political as well as supernatural, haunting connotations of that word--this project seeks to understand how Polynesians (with a particular focus on Native Hawaiians) have been bodily "possessed," along with the political and economic possession of their lands. Thus, the project traces a logic of "possession through whiteness" in which Polynesians were once, and under the salutary influence of settler colonialism, will again be white. The project's analysis coheres around four figures of the "almost white" Polynesian race: the ancestrally white Polynesian of ethnology and Aryanism (1830s-1870s), the Part-Hawaiian of physical anthropology and eugenics (1910s-1920s), the mixed-race "Hawaiian girl" of sociology (1930s-1940s), and the mixed-race, soon-to-be white (again) Polynesian of genetics, whose full acceptance in Hawai'i seemed to provide a model of racial harmony to the world (1950s). Rather than attempting to uncover "racist" scientific practices, the project reveals how historical scientific literature produced knowledge about the Polynesian race that remains important in how Native Hawaiians are recognized (and misrecognized) in contemporary scientific, legal and cultural spheres. In addition to the historical analysis, the project also examines contemporary Native Hawaiian responses to the logic of possession through whiteness. These include regenerative actions that radically displace whiteness, such as contemporary relationship building between Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. At the same time, other regenerative actions attempt to reproduce Native Hawaiian-ness with a standard of racial purity modeled on whiteness, including legal fights waged over blood quantum legislation. Overall, the project provides a scientific genealogy as to how Polynesians have been recognized as "almost white," and questions under what conditions this possessive recognition can be refused
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside
Dissertation Title: Sin Fronteras : Activism, Immigration, and the Politics of Belonging in Mexican Chicago, 1968-1986
Doctoral Committee: Co-Chair: David G. Gutierrez; Co-Chair: Lisa Sun-Hee Park, Yen Espiritu, Alejandro Lugo, Natalia Molina, K. Wayne Yang
Abstract: This dissertation examines the alternative ways Chicago's Mexicans and Mexican Americans created a sense of belonging in the United States, ways that reflected a changing social reality on the ground and the emergence of a sense of imagining and a community not strictly tied to or bounded by the juridical rights of U.S. citizenship. During the 1970s, Mexican and Mexican American community leaders learned of the non-citizen status of many residents and their anxieties about INS harassment through their community involvement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1974, Mexican and Mexican American activists co-founded the Chicago chapter of El Centro de Acción Social Autónoma-Hermandad General de Trabajadores [Center for Autonomous Social Action- General Brotherhood of Workers] or CASA, a Marxist-Leninist immigrant rights organization. This organization demanded rights for Mexicans regardless of citizenship or immigration status. By stressing a "sin fronteras" [beyond borders] ideology, CASA pushed the terms of belonging in the United States, stressing connections between the ways in which Mexicans on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border experienced exploitation fueled by American capitalism. I argue that CASA Chicago activists' rejection of hierarchal citizenship as a means to claim rights and belonging proved necessary in order to articulate and practice an expansive strategy of gaining rights and belonging in the United States for Mexicans and Mexican Americans alike. My conceptualization of sin fronteras concept refers to the idea of transcending dominant discourses of belonging, primarily based on the boundaries of the nation-state. Ethnic Mexicans, regardless of birthplace, generation, or citizenship status, engaged with and practiced a sin fronteras imagining.
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Instruction, Latina and Latino Studies, Northwestern University
Dissertation Title: Race and the Violence of Love : Family and Nation in U.S. Adoptions from Asia
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Espiritu; Co-Chair: Denise Ferreira da Silva; Rosemary Marangoly George, Natalia Molina, K. Wayne Yang
Abstract: My dissertation is about the violence of love in transnational/racial adoptive family-making. I define adoption and any statement affirming adoption as "love"---or more specifically a loving act, statement, or possibility---that operates at the personal and familial; agency and industry; and legal and trans/national levels. But I also show how past and present transnational/racial adoptions from Asia to the United States are imbricated in hidden or unmarked structural-historical, representational, and traumatic violence. My project answers the questions: How is "love" defined and employed by the various actors--adoptive parents, adoption agencies, and the state--who are involved in transnational/racial adoptions? What role does racial difference play in adoptive family-making? How is adoption a "violent" act? More specifically, how are constructions of il/legible and il/legitimate families shaped by adoption discourse, structures, and practices in the United States? Each chapter of Race and the Violence of Love examines a different site of knowledge production about the transnational/racial adoptive family. Through archival, legal, new media, and ethnographic methods, I analyze positive adoption language and social scientific studies; legal discourse and practice; popular adoption discourse through blogs and their comments; and birth culture and adoptee summer camps. I make two claims to position how the "violence of love" relates to and functions in adoptive family-making : 1) Adoption professionals and social scientists, government officials, the public, and adoptive parents have imagined and applied the concept of love in personal, symbolic, and (neo)liberal legal ways that transgressed normative biological, same-race, and same-nation kinship. These forms of love have been used to normalize transnational/racial adoption as a form of freedom from violence and "in the best interest," where U.S. adoptive families and the United States are the better family and nation in relation to the birth family and nation (or what I call "opposite" future) for the child in need. 2) Such adoption representations and practices, however, are simultaneously and differently attached to intersecting and overlapping forms of structural-historical, representation, and traumatic violence that happen before, after, and outside of transnational/racial adoption. In other words, Race and the Violence of Love interrogates the configuration of the adoptive family as transgressive and non-normative but also the site for which racial and gendered subjects and global geographies as well as the idea of normative families and motherhood are simultaneously reconsolidated. The implications of this research include embracing adoption and family as non-normative and considering the generative possibilities of examining the violence of love within adoptive-family in relation to other sites of family and the "home" that exist such as childhood, marriage, im/migration, domestic work, nursing, and surrogacy.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Humanities and World Cultures Unit of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, UC Merced. Former Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Merced.
Dissertation Title: Possible Republics: Tracing the 'Entanglements' of race and nation in Afro-Latina/o Caribbean thought and activism, 1870-1930
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Ross Frank; Kirstie Dorr; Gabriel Mendes; Sara Johnson; Yen Le Espiritu; Denise Ferreira da Silva
Abstract: This dissertation challenges how critical scholarship on race and racism in Latin America has traditionally understood racial subalterns in Cuba and Puerto Rico as people who are prevented from acting as black political subjects because of the hegemonic power of discourses of nationhood premised on ideas of mestizaje and racial fraternity. By providing an intellectual history of several important yet largely ignored Cuban and Puerto Rican activists intellectuals of color who lived and worked between the Caribbean and the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, I show that instead of being tricked by creole elite national narratives, they attempted to redefine ideas of nationhood to challenge racism, colonialism, and imperialism at local, national, and transnational levels. More specifically, through an examination of the essays, newspaper articles, personal correspondence, and literary works they left behind, I look at the complicated ways in which figures such as Rafael Serra, Tomás Carrión-Maduro, and Luis Felipe Dessus attempted to reconcile a politics of anti-racism within the nation with a politics of nationalism that rallied racial subalterns to stand up to colonialism and imperialism. I also look examine how these figures negotiated how they saw themselves in relation to the pan-Africanisms and Latin American pan-nationalisms of their era while critiquing how these projects concealed the internal hierarchies of power within and between the national communities they comprised. Overall, this intellectual history maps the terrain of entwined racial, class, and national politics in the thought and activism of a largely forgotten yet profoundly influential set of racial subaltern, Hispanic Caribbean intellectuals at a key moment in the making of their respective nation-states.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at University of Washington, Bothell. Former U.C. President's Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA.
Dissertation Title: Globalized Humanitarianism: US Imperial Formation in Asia and the Pacific through the Indochinese Refugee Problem
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Denise Ferreira da Silva; Joseph Hankins; Adria Imada; Jin-Kyung Lee
Abstract: Deploying globalized humanitarianism as a frame of analysis, my dissertation (re)conceptualizes the U.S. Indochinese refugee resettlement as an involvement which exemplified the U.S.'s policy objective of trying to sustain its global power in the region during the Cold War. Engaging in a transnational discourse analysis by citing published materials from both the U.S. and Japan, this dissertation elucidates the ways in which the U.S. employed humanitarianism to carry on its resettlement plan and pressure other countries to participate.
The evacuation and resettlement of Indochinese refugees was not necessary an act of forgetting the war, but rather an act of rescuing the "wounded," enabling the U.S. to be a savior in Asia and the Pacific. This rescuer image of the U.S. is historically rooted in the U.S.'s presence there. Even though the war in Vietnam could not display the mightiness of the U.S., the rescue of the refugees and orphans at the end of the war allowed the U.S. public to differentiate the U.S.'s evacuation from the act of war. The theater of rescue had enormous effects on changing the image of the failure of the war. The act of rescue did not stop with the U.S.'s evacuation from the region. A small group of officers from the State Department propelled Indochinese refugee admissions on a large scale by collaborating with the media and mobilizing various organizations. This dissertation points out that the people involved in the resettlement effort had a humanitarian impulse to help the refugees, but they also upheld the larger context of an anticommunistic understanding of the righteousness of U.S. power in Asia.
At the same time, the Indochinese refugee problem became an international burden sharing project. Internationalization of the resettlement efforts allowed the U.S. to act as a leader in Asia, while Asia, especially the first asylum countries, played the role of surrogate refuges to the U.S. This process was also an externalization of the refugee processing to Asia to secure the U.S. border. The U.S. government honed the concept of extraterritoriality, blurring the concept of territory by furthering their association with Asian countries. This internationalization was made possible through the cooperation of other countries. This dissertation examines the relationship between the U.S. and Japan in particular, because I want to show that U.S. hegemony in Asia is not a simple form of domination in which the U.S. coerces other countries to collaborate, but rather an intricate complex of power that enables the U.S. to act as a leader. Japan for the first time opened its doors to the refugees and funded the UNHCR with enormous amounts of money to assist the U.S. in the Indochinese refugee resettlement. By doing so, the Government of Japan gained the honor of being a member of the West that was not only wealthy but moral.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Ohtsuki City College in Yamanashi, Japan.
Dissertation Title: Displaced Histories: Refugee Critique and the Politics of Hmong American Remembering
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Ross Frank; Adria Imada; Denise Ferreira da Silva; John Blanco; Shelley Streeby
Abstract: Displaced histories names Hmong racial subjection as a project of displacing them from both the nation and history through war and knowledge production. This racial formation is constitutive of the United States so-called “secret war” in Laos (1961-1975) that was quietly and publicly known yet not made much of. Laos has been viewed as a Cold War “pawn” to the superpowers of the US and Soviet Union, and it constituted a crucial yet marginal position in relation to the Vietnam War. This dissertation investigates how the war as a historical period is also a project of knowledge production. Thus the war’s secrecy not only hid US violence against Hmong and Laos but also produced racial knowledge to configure Hmong as gendered racial subjects who are primitive and exist outside of historical time. Furthermore, secrecy is a gendered racial configuration because it involved the twin projects of militarism and rescue. Secrecy’s production of Hmong outside of history is how they have been configured as racial subjects because historical absence is a product of racial formation. Therefore, Hmong racial subjection highlights how history is a nation-state project and a signifier of one’s emergence in modernity.
This dissertation excavates history as it relates to nation and belonging because the war was not a secret for Hmong who were recruited by the CIA to fight as proxy US soldiers and bore the brunt of the violence. I argue that Hmong refugees/Americans contend with the forgetting of their history as part of a process to formulate histories and belonging in displacement. Hmong maintain that they saved US American lives in Laos yet their experiences in the US do not reflect the sacrifices they made to the US government. An estimated 35,000 Hmong died in battle while disease and starvation caused the death of almost one-third of Hmong in Laos when forced to flee from their homes. The soldiers, their families, and Hmong civilians fleeing from this invisible war in 1975 and years afterwards were targets of political persecution due to their collaboration with the US. Thus I foreground the refugee figure as a site to unravel the structure of secrecy as a fundamental function of state-making, particularly US democracy since World War II. It also opens up the questions about nation, race, US empire, belonging, and knowledge production. Yet the Hmong refugee also constitutes an embodied category that activates nuanced responses to US historical amnesia and convoluted treatment. My analysis employs the “refugee archive” to emphasize Hmong displaced histories as a perspective to doing historical analysis that understands the past in relation to the present.
Current Position: Assistant Professor in Ethnic Studies in the Humanities and World Cultures unit in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at UC Merced.
Dissertation Title: Suspended Futures: The Vietnamization of South Vietnamese History and Memory
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Ross Frank; Denise Ferreira da Silva; Lisa Lowe; Ricardo Dominguez
Abstract: In 1969, President Richard Nixon announced the “Vietnamization” of the Vietnam War, a policy involving the complete pullout of American troops from Indochina and the handover of responsibility for winning the war to its beleaguered allies, the South Vietnamese. While seeking a convenient “peace with honor” for the U.S., Vietnamization also articulated the challenges of achieving political modernity and freedom for South Vietnamese people. Reconceptualizing and deploying this term in the 21st century, I seek to address the ways the war and its subjects are called into the present future to speak about a nation and national identity that no longer officially exists. My chapters looks at different figurations and representations of South Vietnam across various sites showing how it is reimagined not simply as the "lost" side of history but those whose historical experiences must be recognized and reconciled in a post-millennial militarizing period characterized by a “Vietnam Syndrome.” I argue that the South Vietnamese experience remains the inassimilable trace and product of a problematic (geo)political history that poses challenges to how the war is remembered and for whom in the here-and-now.
Utilizing a cultural studies approach to the study of history and memory, I analyze current efforts to reconfigure and incorporate South Vietnamese historicity in the U.S., current-day Vietnam and the Vietnamese diaspora. The first chapter on a U.S.-based Vietnam War historical archive interrogates the ways in which American desires to include the stories of Vietnamese American refugees in their preservation work serves as another form of Vietnamization that tries to give “voice” and agency to the South Vietnamese without contending with the ideological contradictions such inclusion entails. The second chapter examines the 2006 film Living in Fear, a text that depicts the often marginalized and censored struggles of South Vietnamese soldiers in post-reunification socialist Vietnam, many of whom are forced to clear the many landmines left by American troops. It symbolizes globalizing Vietnam’s gradual openness but residual resistance to those fellow citizens once labeled as “traitors” to the nation. I conclude with an examination of a local protest over a controversial art exhibit in Orange County and how the issue of anticommunism based on a diasporic South Vietnamese nationalism continues to divide a changing Vietnamese American community. In all, the disparate case studies illustrate South Vietnam as the symbolic staging grounds for constant negotiation around understandings of a war that never found proper closure or ending.
Current Position: Assistant Professor in Sociology and Science, Technology, and Society Program at Vassar College. Former UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow (2011-2013).
Dissertation Title: Encased Encounters: Remapping Boundaries of U.S. and Mexican Ingeniety
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Ross Frank; Robert Alvarez; Ricardo Dominguez; Natalia Molina; Eric Van Young
Abstract:In our current historical moment, notions of citizenship and sovereignty are continually being called into question. Over the past two hundred years, processes of delimiting the cultural and geographic parameters of the U.S. and Mexican nation-states have played out in distinct but parallel ways. As the two countries that share the largest militarized border in the world, flows of migration, or rather the containment of these flows, has necessitated a clear demarcation of what constitutes indigenous people, and more importantly, indigenous landscapes. Citizenship in both countries has always been predicated upon how the nation-state imagines its borders, and whom it imagines as worthy of residing within those borders. This work maps the systemic and overt forms of racism that create current discourses and perceptions of indigeneity, analyzing how these forms continue to define and delimit nation-building projects today. Through centering an analysis of the National Museum of the American Indian in the United States and the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico, I link their institutional practices and representations of indigenous communities to larger historical developments and genealogies to reveal the way that structural racism and ideologies operate to manage and produce the ongoing "absent presence" of indigeneity. This project aims to move away from the notion of museums as sites of multicultural inclusion and public recognition to examine the ongoing problem and reconfiguring of "difference" in such spaces. Looking at the way that each museum facilitates navigation through spatial, as well as temporal boundaries, I then locate these navigations within larger historical and contemporary debates surrounding conflicting notions of state and Native sovereignty. I contend that museums are key sites for capturing, staging and authenticating indigenous identities, serving as important locations to examine the indigenous presence in larger national and discursive contexts. This dissertation asks the following questions: how do museums provide the groundwork for the imagined and symbolic landscapes through which we see, engage and encounter the indigenous presence in the early 21st century? How does an understanding of indigeneity in these two museums reveal much more about the present conditions of globalization, neoliberalism, diaspora, history and political sovereignty? How does apprehending the racialization of space and place allow for nuanced analyses of power and native subjectivities in the present-day?
Current Position: Teacher, High Tech High, Chula Vista, California
Dissertation Title: The Mechanics of Race: The Discursive Production of Detroit’s Landscape of Difference
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Natalia Molina; Co-Chair: Lisa Sun-Hee Park; Luis Alvarez; Yen Espiritu; Adria Imada
Abstract: The most lauded commercial of Super Bowl 2011, Chrysler’s “Born of Fire,” was the longest and most expensive ad in history. It aimed to disrupt the typical narrative of Detroit—“a town that has been to hell and back”—by mapping a history of a city intentionally distinct from other U.S. cities in order to prepare audiences for the final tagline: “Imported from Detroit.” In the end, the ad simultaneously unsettled the national understanding of Detroit as decayed and dying through a reliance on the same old tropes of white working class masculinity, liberal individualism, and the ideal of the American Dream, rendering invisible the work of the racial state in the production of Detroit. Through an interdisciplinary study of government documents, archival records, film, and internet web boards, I reveal the physical and ideological manufacture of Detroit as a space of “difference.” By analyzing the production of the racial spatial imaginary in public policy and popular culture Detroit emerges not as an aberration, but akin to other social spaces constructed by normative narratives of race and place.
My analysis of Detroit relies on a framework of cultural geography that contends that social relations like race and racism manifest in and produce physical locations. Through an examination that spans from the 1930s to the present day and an interdisciplinary methodology, I argue that material spaces and ideas of spaces are enactments of the racial state structure and the racial imaginary through studies of public housing and slum clearance programs and mediated spaces like film and the internet. I further the understanding of the implications of historical productions of race and reveal their disappearance in the present by linking the racial state as arbiter of legislated racial policy and popular culture and new media as modes of circulating ideas.
As contemporary discussions of race move toward “race neutrality” and colorblindness this work elucidates the continuing production of race in spaces of the city. Each chapter serves as a location to decipher the manufacture of race in the spaces of policy and popular culture. In chapter one I argue that public housing was a primary location where a paradigm of separate and unequal was formalized. In chapter two I argue that although national and local applications of the 1949 Housing Act purported to be race neutral, the institutional and ideological forces that produced neighborhoods around the country as “blighted” were a direct result of ideological and material manifestations of race. In both chapters my arguments stem from my research and analysis of archival documents of Detroit city agencies and community groups from the 1930s-1950s. In chapter three the film Gran Torino (2008) serves as a case study to demonstrate how institutional racism is often erased and made invisible in popular culture. I argue that the filmic elides structural barriers to home ownership through its focus on interpersonal conflicts and resolution. In chapter four I turn to the widely popular website City-data.com to analyze how the rhetoric of liberal individualism, hard work, and equal access to jobs and housing obscure the workings of structural racism. In the dissertation as a whole, I demonstrate the significance of race in shaping the urban landscape materially and ideologically and reveal the continuing significance of race in an era of “race neutrality.”
Current Position: Assistant Professor in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies and the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.
Dissertation Title: Cold War Love: Producing American Liberalism in Interracial Marriages Between American Soldiers and Japanese Women
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Denise Ferreira de Silva; Ross Frank; Takashi Fujitani; Lisa Yoneyama
Abstract: This project analyzes how "Japanese war brides" who married American GIs as a result of the U.S. occupation of Japan became visible in the political context whereby the United States and Japan established an allied relationship. The marriages between American soldiers and Japanese women became controversial subjects in both the United States and Japan because they crossed the constructed racial line as miscegenation. They also became an ideological symbol of war politics between the victor and the defeated. This postwar period was the first time that American soldiers and Japanese women became so intimate that their marriages became the subject of much discussion and concern in the U.S.-Japan history.
MThis dissertation examines how such controversial marriages between American soldiers and Japanese women became subjects that invigorated American Imperialism at the beginning of Cold War. First, I analyze how the intimacy between American soldiers and Japanese women became visible within the shift of the political relationship between the United States and Japan as they moved from wartime enemy to postwar allies; as well as analyzing representations of intimacy between American soldiers and Japanese women in the early 50's. I situate configuration of American soldier husbands within the U.S. occupation of Japan as liberation and rehabilitation whereby the marriages were understood as loving projects that liberated Japanese "enslaved" wives. Second, this dissertation captures the shifting moments when the United States realized its cultural pluralism whereby it asserted its capability of accommodating people regardless of race and confirmed its democratic principle. I analyze how mixed racial families consisting of American soldier husbands, Japanese wives, and their "mixed blood" children that were impossible subjects of miscegenation became possible subjects as a model family who self-evidently invigorate American cultural pluralism during the Cold War.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of English Literature, Japan Women's University
Dissertation Title: Chamorros, Ghosts, Non-voting Delegates: GUAM! Where the Production of America's Sovereignty Begins
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; John Blanco; Keith Camacho; Ross Frank; Wayne Yang
Abstract: When asked about decolonization and the rights to self-determination of the peoples of the Micronesian islands, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger infamously stated, "There are only 90,000 people there; who gives a dam?" It is in this sort of similar dismissive logic that colonialism today in place such as the island of Guam is regarded. As a colony in a world which has already gotten over colonialism, a place such as Guam is a sad exception to the existing multicultural family of nations. In this sense, Guam and places like it are insignificant, and say or mean very little in terms of describing or defining the global order today. They exist to simply be attached to other larger nations, and are defined primarily through powerlessness and dependency.
In this dissertation, these relationships and the way they are dominantly articulated today will be challenged and denaturalized. The notions that Guam is an irrelevant effect of the United States, merely a mistake on sovereignty's journey, or a powerless American territory, will be interrogated to reveal their structure. The core of accomplishing this challenge, which amounts to a process of theoretical decolonization, is to re-imagine and re-articulate the meaning of Guam's ambiguous, exceptional status, from one of irrelevance or powerlessness, and reveal the way in which Guam or other sites like it, actually play constitutive roles in producing the powers that claim them.
Therefore this dissertation will seek to decolonization the space between Guam and the United States, and Guam and the concept of sovereignty by showing the structure by which Guam potentially sits at the center of American power, and that there are a litany of ways in which its banality, its geography, its coloniality all intersect to constitute the United States, its power, its authority, its might, its sovereignty. Each chapter will represent a different attempt to re-signify that discursive space between Guam and the United States and sovereignty, and to reverse the conventional way in which the space is assumed meaning, and what the tendencies for power and dependency are, or who constitutes who and who is powerful or powerless?
Current Position: Assistant Professor in Chamorro Studies at the College of Liberal Arts and Social Science, University of Guam.
Dissertation Title: Neoliberal Captivity: Criminalization of Latina Migrants and the Construction of Irrecuperability
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Natalia Molina; Co-Chair: Lisa Sun-Hee Park; David Gutierrez; David Pellow; Dylan Rodriguez
Abstract: This study generates a discussion between the immigrant rights movement and the prison abolition movement. The dialogue bridges contemporary migrant criminalization, imprisonment, detention, and family separation, to the longer history of imprisonment of Blacks in the U.S. It attempts to displace exceptionalist readings of migrant policing and detention and demonstrate how these population control practices are made possible through the ideological and material labor developed in response to post-Civil Rights Black rebelliousness. Specifically, it considers the criminalization of state dependency that was attributed to Black women who were marked as "breeders" of criminality. These constructions provided ideological fuel for the neoliberal transformation of the early 1970s that resulted in constructing Blacks as expendable within the U.S. labor market and reliance on imprisonment as a solution to the creation of expendable bodies. This development was accompanied with a shift in migrant labor relations, moving largely from the Bracero Program, which relied on contracted migrant laborers, to undocumented workers. The expansion of the service economy in the U.S. and changes in federal immigration legislation of 1986 increased the presence of migrant women. Nativist fears generated over the permanent settlement of migrant women and their families drew from existing tropes about Black motherhood and criminalized migrants, in large part through the notion of "public charges." Similar to Blacks, the response is increased reliance on the criminal justice system, which resulted in Latina/o migrants constituting the largest ethnic group in federal prison.
Drawing from the experiences of jailed, imprisoned, detained, and deported migrant women gathered through an interdisciplinary research methodology consisting of ethnography, archives, media discourse analysis, and interviews, this dissertation demonstrates that migrant women's criminalization is central in regulating racial neoliberal labor relations. Their criminalization constructs them as irrecuperable subjects, separating their productive form their reproductive labors. A critical feminist conceptualization of U.S. captivity is advanced in this study and it accounts for the centrality of migrant women's bodies in maintaining U.S. global dominance. Nativist discourse marks migrant women's bodies as the origins of an external racial threat. Immigration control policies serve to contain, and in the case of incarceration and deportation, dispose of "the threat."
Current Position: Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies at California State University, Northridge.
Dissertation Title: Decolonizing Cartogrphies: Sovereignty, Territoriality, and Maps of Meaning in the Uranium Landscape
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Ross Frank; Co-Chair: Lisa Sun-Hee Park; Yen Le Espiritu; David Pellow; Lisa Yoneyama
Abstract: This dissertation explores the development of the uranium industry on Native land in the southwest, with a particular emphasis on how Navajo land came to be host over 1,100 uranium mine and mill sites. The disproportionate location of uranium sites on Navajo land, and the fact that these sites have not been cleaned up to protect human and environmental health from the dangers of radiation, certainly makes this an urgent case of environmental racism. My study links the growing literature of environmental justice studies to ethnic and indigenous studies in order to explore the conditions of coloniality that have constructed both Navajo lands and bodies as violable for the purposes of both national security (by the Atomic Energy Commission) and industrial development (by both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the uranium industry).
This project uses interdisciplinary method and theory to approach what I call the "uranium landscape" from two angles. The first argues that the disproportionate focus of uranium prospectors and miners in the 1950s relied on constructions in federal cartography and agronomic discourse of Navajo land as "worthless" for agriculture- and grazing-based economies. The second argues that resistance to the uranium industry has taken a distinctively cartographic form, in the sense of protecting parts of the uranium landscape by extending Native claims to that land. Both of these angles explore the ways in which environmental harm and subsequent social movements for environmental justice are shaped by the intersections of racialization, gender, sexuality, and hegemonic ideas about "nature" and political economy.
Current Position: Assistant Professor in the Women's Studies Department in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Dissertation Title: (Re)Framing the Nation: The Afro-Cuban Challenge to Black and Latino Struggles for American Identity
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Ana Celia Zentella; Charles Briggs; Jane Rhodes; Raul Fernandez; Daniel Hallin; Sara Johnson
Abstract: This dissertation interrogates the complexity of late 20th and early 21st century racial projects, focusing on conflict and convergence among African Americans, Cuban exiles, and Afro-Cubans in the United States. A textual analysis of the African American Miami Times and the Spanish language El Herald/El Nuevo Herald during the 1980 Mariel exodus and 1994 Balsero crisis, reveals the concerns of Miami African Americans and Cubans related to issues of race, immigration, and national belonging. The dissertation argues that the racializing discourses found in the Miami Times, which painted Cuban immigrants as an economic threat, and discourses in the Herald, which affirmed the presumed inferiority of blackness and superiority of whiteness, reproduce the centrality of ideologies of exclusivity and white supremacy in the construction of the U.S. nation. These discourses rely on three principle racializing frames: the black/white frame, the morality framing of good and bad citizens, and the native/foreigner dichotomy. Despite often antagonistic attitudes between African Americans, exile Cubans, and newer Cuban immigrants, however, the findings expose a shared underlying critique of the continued disenfranchisement of people of color. The analysis of newspaper text is supplemented by an analysis of talk, i.e., in-depth interviews conducted with black Cubans from Miami and Los Angeles, in order to understand their negotiations of the U.S. racial structure. The experiences that Afro-Cubans recount contradict the tenets of exclusivity upon which definitions of “authentic” U.S. citizenship rests, and their positioning as blacks and as Cubans challenges the notion that African American and Cuban American communities are bounded, racially distinct groups. The dissertation makes the case that we must root out and expose white supremacy in all its covert manifestations, in order to understand interethnic conflict more broadly, and Black/Latino conflict specifically. Though the study focuses on Miami and Los Angeles, it has national implications, as it concerns the ways in which the power of whitenessprevails even as the nation’s population shifts from majority white to “majority minority.”
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Sociology at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Dissertation Title: Inhabiting Indianness: US Colonialism and Indigenous Geographies
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Ross Frank; Yen Le Espiritu; David Pellow; Rosemary George; Paul Spickard
Abstract: This comparative study demonstrates a uniquely spatial phenomenon targeting American Indian peoples and communities that I call “inhabiting Indianness.” Inhabiting Indianness refers to the ways that everyday citizens deploy notions of Indianness in the creation of White residential spaces and in reasserting national and therefore colonial geographies.
Chapter three serves as the core of the study, examining the construction of a racialized American geography through mundane American Indian-inspired spatial markers. I document and analyze the use of Indian-themed street names throughout the United States, and compare their uses and meanings to street names referencing other racialized groups, including African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos. After reviewing nationwide data, I provide a more detailed case study of Clairemont, California, a suburb of San Diego.
Chapter two serves as an intellectual and pedagogical bridge for my study of the street names. This chapter documents how Indianness functions not only through visual and spectacular representations, but also through more mundane cultural practices. I analyze the use of Indianness at two northern California high schools, one that uses a non-caricatured mascot derived from a historical figure and a second where the school name itself recognizes a local native person.
In my final chapter, I present a reading of four American Indian artists. Framed in reference to the use of Indianness for marking US-claimed land, I examine how these artists articulate resistance to the production of colonial space, and reveal how their works reflect a shared effort to reassert and recognize indigenous geographies. I present the film and writing of Sherman Alexie, the poetry of Louise Erdrich, a visual art piece from Bunky Echo-Hawk, and a series of installation art works by Edgar Heap of Birds. These works of art illustrate that the artists not only speak back to appropriated notions of Indianness, but also creatively interrogate how American space must be seen as the ongoing work of colonization.
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Native American Studies in the School of Language, Culture, and Society at Oregon State University.
Dissertation Title: Mortifications of the Flesh: Racial Discipline in a Time of Crisis
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Co-Chair: Denise Ferreira da Silva, Rosaura Sanchez; Abel Valenzuela; Laura Pulido; Maurice Stevens
Abstract: In this dissertation I examine the continuity of racial discipline in the US at the turn of the 20 th century and the turn of the 21 st century. I treat the television program COPS and the photo art book and museum exhibition Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America as complex visual objects enrolled in the continuity and maintenance of the violent practice of racial discipline. I argue that although the mechanisms through which the body is disciplined and visually consumed have changed, the violent practice of racial discipline and its function remain remarkably similar. The focus and use of the visual and fields of vision directs this project to the body as both centrally symbolic and material as race is actualized in the spectacle of racial disciplining in a time of crisis, recuperation and becoming. My analysis relies on the two historical periods of crisis; the era Reconstruction and Manifest Destiny and the era of late capital, to consider the conditions of possibility from which the racially disciplined body exists as a locus of political and economic evidence of legitimation and order. This dissertation provides the proper theoretical framework for the interpretative work the dissertation will undertake, as well as considers related work that examines the relationship between race, representation and disciplinary state systems. The geneology of the spectacle of racial discipline is mapped out focusing on the conditions of possibility from which this practice is productive of race at the turn of the 20th and 21st century.
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Chicano/a Studies, UC Davis.
Dissertation Title: Anticommunism as Cultural Praxis: South Vietnam, War, and Refugee Memories in the Vietnamese American Community
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Robert Alvarez; Lisa Sun-Hee Park; Lisa Yoneyama; Rosemary George
Abstract: In dialogue with new critical scholarship on immigration, refugee, war, and memory studies as well as drawing from the methodologies of cultural studies and ethnography, this dissertation examines “anticommunism” as a set of cultural discourses and practices that shape the past, present, and future of Vietnamese diasporic communities by exploring when, where, and for what purposes South Vietnam emerges in refugee memories. That anticommunism continues to be an important paradigm for Vietnamese diasporic identity and community formations more than thirty years after the official end of the war and despite increased transnational relations between Vietnam and its diaspora suggests the need to theorize the multiplicity of meanings that it has amassed through the years. Through ethnographic interviews, participation in and observation of Vietnamese American community events in San Diego and analysis of its cultural productions, I examine how the refugee (or first) generation apprehend and deploy anticommunism in community spaces and in their private lives in order to engage with conversations about how memory, history and silence intersect and reveal hidden dynamics of institutional power and violence. How can acts of collective remembrance and the burdened silences of the first generation regarding the Vietnam-American war and post-war traumas work as alternatives to state sanctioned narratives (in Vietnam and the US) that erase a or disavow South Vietnamese perspectives? Can we read differently the public face of anticommunist politics that has authorized community censorship and violence in the past thirty years? This dissertation takes apart what has been academically and generally dismissed as conservative exile politics and looks to everyday community meaning-making practices as a legitimate and important site of knowledge. Thinking of Vietnamese American anticommunism as a cultural praxis—a mode for engaging in memory and meaning-making practices—it becomes possible to discuss the complexity of post-war grappling with death, loss, exile, and survival for those on the ground.
Current Position: Archivist for the Southeast Asian Archive and Regional History, UC Irvine Libraries
Dissertation Title: Asian Americans at the Movies: Race, Labor, and Migration in the Transpacific West, 1900-1945
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Co-Chair: Nayan Shah; Ross Frank; Natalia Molina; Lesley Stern
Abstract: This dissertation explores the vibrant world of motion picture amusements in Asian immigrant communities in the United States between 1900 and 1945. It traces a circuit of movie-going that spanned from the migrant cities of Seattle and Stockton to the rural plantation towns of the Hawaiian islands . Starting in the nickelodeon era, Japanese showmen crafted a world of cheap attractions in major spots of Asian migration and settlement in the transpacific West. The cultural politics of first generation elites, alongside their struggles with local and national communities, shaped these entertainment spheres. Racial segregation, alien land laws, and prewar governmental surveillance also demarcated the possibilities for a viable public culture during the first half of the twentieth century. In Hawaii , the cultural sphere of movie-going emerged in relation to sugar planters, Japanese showmen, and the thousands of immigrant laborers who crowded into the show houses to view a diverse program of moving pictures from Hollywood as well as Japan and the Philippines . With the first major labor strike in 1909, sugar planters sought to promote the movies on plantations as a means to appease labor unrest and create a docile labor force. With the increasing threat of organized labor, however, sugar planters grew increasingly distrustful. I trace the apprehensions and anxieties that planters exhibited over the movies, the showmen, and their spectators in order to suggest that this film scene comprised an alternative sphere in rural Hawaii . Beyond simple pleasures, the dangers of Japanese run amusements extended a counter public for laborers beyond the union hall and into the world of leisure and attractions. This study of early film culture in Asian immigrant communities brings together the field of film studies with Asian American history, U.S. social and cultural history, migration studies, and urban studies. It sheds insight into the ways that race, labor, and migration formed the public sphere of the cinema in the first decades of its inception. The project illuminates how the social experience of the movies, and the engagement with the pleasures and fantasies of the cinema, shaped the relationships of Asian immigrants to both their national communities and American modernity.
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Asian-American History in the Department of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Dissertation Title: Racing to Refuge: Ethnicity, Gendered Violence, and Somali Youth in San Diego
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Espiritu; Robert Alvarez; Denise Ferreira da Silva; Nayan Shah; Daniel Widener
Abstract: This dissertation is a study of youth programs as structures of refuge for Somalis in San Diego, CA. Somali youth stand at the nexus of the notions of, on the one hand, "refugees" as traumatized and deserving of humanitarian aid, and on the other hand as "Somalis" feared to be violent or threats in the war on terror. What appear to be contradictory constructions are complementary aspects of violent racial subject-making that position in every significant capacity "first" world (coded as white heteropatriarchal) above "third" world and other (coded as "of color" and "foreign"). Media and popular culture reinforce these constructs while programs in the nonprofit sector market themselves and orient their programming toward discourses on rescue that reproduce the status quo. Meanwhile, resettled Somalis in urban areas like City Heights, San Diego face everyday environments shaped by legacies of race and class discrimination. Beyond the simplistic construct of benevolent helpers and their incapacitated wards lies a more complex field of struggle where neighborhood residents, resettlement officials, and newcomers contest the meanings of race, ethnicity, class, and gender. Striving for a social justice-informed ecological view of refugees, this study explores the complexities of youth program structures of refuge in the areas of law enforcement, sexual health and masculinity, and public education. This study contributes to public policy and education literature on a sizeable and significant minority group concentrated in an urban US inner city.
Current Position: Associate Professor and Chair at Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of San Diego.
Dissertation Title: The Language of Militarism: Engendering Filipino Masculinity in the U.S. Empire
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Lisa Sun-Hee Park; Ana Celia Zentella; John Blanco; Nayan Shah
Abstract: My dissertation examines the relationship between militarism and domesticity in the United States through the everyday lives of multigenerational Filipino Navy families in San Diego, California. The militarization and domestication of Filipino Navy families have engendered affective and effective desires to constitute themselves as legible subjects despite the violence of U.S. empire in the Philippines and the demands of resettlement in the U.S. imperial center. Arguably, the desire for such legibility in an imperial milieu (as Filipino/ American subjects) challenges the language of belonging (or inclusion) common to analyses of U.S. empire. From the epistemological perspectives of Filipino Navy families in my sample, I posit that such discursive legibility in the U.S. imperial center relies on inventing quotidian expressions of heteronormative Filipino masculinity and manhood alongside co-constructions of heteronormative womanhood and childhood. My analyses is based on original recorded interview data with approximately twenty Filipino Navy families residing in San Diego over a nine-month period between 2004 and 2005. Three members of each family (male enlistee, spouse, and adult child) were interviewed, for a total of sixty participants with a cumulative affiliation with the U.S. Navy that spans fifty years. In “Militarized Filipino Masculinity and the Language of Citizenship,” I examine how Filipino masculinity and manhood are constituted in and through a distinctly masculine framework for familial relationships, and explore the legibility of U.S. patriarchy and militarism in the lives of Filipino men. I show how the domestic space is always overseen, authorized, and enabled by U.S. authority—regardless of how and whether the Filipino Navy men in my sample identify, cope with, and resolve their expectations of themselves as men through the language of citizenship and the patriotic. In “Militarized Filipino Motherhood and the Language of Mothering,” I examine how domesticity, intimacy, and morality are imagined, staged, reproduced, and transferred intergenerationally by women to constitute a distinctly masculine framework for Filipino Navy families. Specifically, I look at how the incongruities of class consolidation and white bourgeois domesticity in everyday life gesture towards the everyday expressions of dissent and critique of U.S. empire, as well as the limitations. Finally, in “Militarized Filipino Youth and the Language of Respect,” I examine how gendered experiences of militarized childhood both enable and disable the possibilities of demilitarization from within the U.S. imperial center.
Current Position: Associate Professor of Critical Race Studies, Department of Sociology, California State University, San Marcos.
Dissertation Title: Barbaric Sovereignty: States of Emergency and Their Colonial Legacies
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Ross Frank; Denise Ferreira da Silva; Pal Ahluwalia; Takashi Fujitani; Yen Le Espiritu
Abstract: This dissertation develops the concept of Barbaric Sovereignty to demonstrate the generative aspects of white settler colonialism, and how this process served as the social, cultural, and political mechanisms of the United States, and Australia. The categories of barbarians and savages have been disassociated from modern categories, and Barbaric Sovereignty reassembles barbarism and savagery to reveal how critical these categories are for a former white settler society like the United States. Barbaric Sovereignty explains how barbarians and savages are indispensable themes that produce a new category of knowledge that serves as a basis of power for both the state and its residents. The focus of this dissertation is to elucidate the kind of knowledge contained in Barbaric Sovereignty, and to determine what powers this category engenders. White settler societies employ barbaric sovereignty as a means of transforming themselves into nation-states through the destruction of a previous group to create a new settlement that is not an exact replica of a European society. The settlers may not know the extent of what they are producing in terms of settlement, but the barbaric destruction is generative of a new society and state. Since total destruction of the past is not possible, a continual source of apprehension haunts the nation. Former white settler societies are persistently forced to legitimate their violent histories and reconcile their national anxieties, while disavowing any connections to a larger legacy of colonialism.
Current Position: Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada
Dissertation Title:"Making History from U.S. Colonial Amnesia: Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican Poetic Genealogies"
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Ana Celia Zentella; Lisa Sun-Hee Park; Lisa Lowe; John Blanco
Abstract: United States national narratives deploy a selective memory in order to construct the U.S. as a benevolent global power and enable its political and economic interests abroad. In the case of the Philippines and Puerto Rico, the U.S. relied on U.S. styled education systems established during the colonial period, to function as "technologies of forgetting" and suppress memories that counter the narrative of U.S. imperial benevolence. This dissertation explores how Los Angeles Filipino American and New York Puerto Rican performance poets remember U.S. imperialism in the Philippines and Puerto Rico in the face of institutionalized efforts and social pressure that encourage systematic forgetting. These performance poets educate their communities about forgotten and current histories of U.S. imperialism to organize for social change but these histories are not institutionally recognized. My analysis relies on Foucauldian conceptualizations of the power of institutionalizing knowledge and the disqualified or subjugated knowledges that institutionalizing processes such as language policies, public education and assimilationist paradigms produce. Despite the U.S. nation state's resources for reproducing institutionalized histories, neither resistance to the narrative of U.S. colonial benevolence nor the histories this narrative omits can be completely eradicated. Instead, the reproduction of these subjugated knowledges takes place in alternative spaces and through alternative pedagogical practices. Examining the spaces and transnational practices that enable Los Angeles Filipino American and New York Puerto Rican performance poets to construct and reproduce historical narratives challenging institutionalized U.S. history, I argue that these performance poets trace a genealogy of global power that engages the politics of remembering U.S. imperialism to enable social change. Put simply, these poets reconstruct the past to imagine and work towards a different future. "Making History from U.S. Colonial Amnesia" acknowledges both how Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican performance poets make history by intervening in a politics of remembering U.S. imperialism and make history by actively participating in local and transnational social movements.
Current Position: Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado, Denver. Author of Legitimizing Empire Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican Cultural Critique (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2015).
Dissertation Title:"Imaginaries of Transnationalism: Media and Cultures of Consumption in El Salvador"
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Charles Briggs; Co-Chair: Ramón Gutiérrez; Denise Ferreira da Silva; Daniel Hallin; Elana Zilberg
Abstract: "Imaginaries of Transnationalism: Media and Cultures of Consumption in El Salvador" is a study of how some peoples and narratives become transnational and global, while others are excluded from this condition. The dissertation examines the Salvadoran transnational imaginary by juxtaposing three research sites, spaces where Salvadorans come together and "make sense" of globalization: the "Departamento 15" section of the Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Gráfica, the growing bilingual call center sector in San Salvador, and shopping malls and cultures of consumption in San Salvador. Media, consumption, and migration practices become constitutive and central in the production of certain global subjects. Through interviews, media content analysis, and observation, I analyze these sites as emblematic of the interactions people engage in as part of daily life in a globalized world. The research sites relocate El Salvador in different ways within economic, social, and cultural dimensions of globalization. The shopping mall recreates the city even as it often turns its back on it, imagining and idealizing other times and places. The call center "exports" the voice of the Salvadoran employee, as this employee remains immobile. By retelling narratives of emigration and return to El Salvador, the newspaper re-spatializes the nation and incorporates the diaspora into the Salvadoran territory as a transnational "fifteenth department." While people can "freely" participate in these sites, however, the mall, the newspaper, and the call center are spaces of constraint and exclusion, where practices are regulated and people become particular kinds of subjects. Beyond a simple account of domination, however, this dissertation looks at these sites and practices closely, and asks how and why some media representations, work cultures, and ideas of language ability constituted in these sites have become part of the dominant narrative of globalization, while other narratives are marginalized. Ultimately this dissertation is about the implications of certain discourses of migration, commodity consumption, and media, and how these narratives become effective in the disciplinary dimensions of globalization.
Current Position: Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies at Univerisity of California, Santa Cruz. Author of Salvadoran Imaginaries: Mediated Identities and Cultures of Consumption (Rutgers University Press, 2014).
Dissertation Title: Women Weaving the Dream of the Revolution in the American Continent
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Robert Alvarez; Co-Chair: George Lipsitz; Denise Ferreira da Silva; Ramón Gutiérrez; Rosaura Sanchez; Jaime Concha
Abstract: The U.S. third world women's movement proposes the Chicana new mestiza identity as a methodology of (post) modern social movements. García Canclini differentiates modern national identities from transnational citizens' identifications emerging from hybrid cultures' (post) modern consumption of cultural products. Drawing on the contributions and limitations of these two proposals, the dissertation examines the contrast between a masculinist and a womanist articulation of politics of mestiza community making in the Americas. This strategy bears relevance to the meaning of women's agency within the relationships between production and (re) production while providing visibility to the significance of sexuality politics if one wants to qualitatively change the notion and the practice of democracy. In the first part of this dissertation I examine the Mexican Revolution's politics of mestizaje through the study of anthropologist Manuel Gamio's inscription of the new Mexico. I introduce the Mexican Revolution politics of mestizaje as historical references both of Sandoval and García Canclini's mestizaje and hybridity frameworks, which these authors see as the methodological instruments of/for (post) modern social movements. In the second part of the dissertation, I conceive the framework that bridges the mestizaje that the Mexican Revolution consolidated and that the U.Sled. Pan-American project supported. I examine mestizaje politics as a common feature of Latin American politics of community making. At the middle of the twentieth century, when indigenist Pan-Americanism was projected to the entire continent, Venezuela consolidated the modern institutionalisation of its state and the oil production character of the nation. Mestizaje is again the center of this process of community making and is deeply related to the land that produces the resources of the nation state. After providing this historical and conceptual information about Venezuela, the third and last part of the dissertation focuses on the Venezuelan Wayuu Indigenous Women's movement. The study of this concrete social movement introduces new questions and answers on contemporary ethnic and women's politics in the Americas. These questions and answers re-introduce the importance of evaluating the political and epistemological consequences of sexuality and racial politics within social movements which become concrete revolutionary political projects. By studying the Wayuu indigenous women social movement within the Bolivarian Revolution's domestic as well as sub-continental community re-making efforts, the dissertation's objective is to provide evidence of the importance of sexuality politics within contemporary neo-decolonizing hemispheric political efforts.
Current Position: Professor of Anthropology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas.
Dissertation Title: Filipino Youth Cultural Politics and DJ Culture
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Co-Chair: Jane Rhodes; Lisa Sun-Hee Park; Anthony Davis; Rick Bonus; Dylan Rodriguez
Abstract: In this study, I aim to make sense of an emergent form of youth expression that has come to be associated with Filipino youth and in many ways, a constitutive element of Filipino youth identities. I’m particularly interested in those complex forms of identification taking place among Filipino youth which revolve around questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and generation and what they reveal about the racialization of Filipinos in the U.S. and contours of the Filipino diaspora. This study employs multiple methods including an analysis of interviews conducted with Filipino DJs, observations of DJ events, as well as a wide range of secondary sources including historical and popular accounts of hip hop and magazine interviews with Filipino DJs. The objective is to develop insights into the ways Filipino youth go about contesting the terms by which they are inserted into the racial hierarchies and economic structures of the U.S. and imagining new ways of being Filipino that both accommodate and challenge the normative boundaries of Filipinoness.
Current Position: Associate Professor, American Studies, University of New Mexico. Author of Filipinos Represent: DJs, Racial Authenticity, and the Hip-Hop Nation (University of Minnesota Press, 2013).
Dissertation Title: The Object of "Rights": Third World Women and the Production of Global Human Rights Discourse
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Co-Chair: Denise Ferreira da Silva; David Pellow; Lisa Yoneyama; Laura Hyun-Yi Kang
Abstract: The US women's rights as human rights doctrine continues to represent campaigns for international women's rights through the stories and images of Asian, African, and Latin American women. As both the idea of global human rights, and the place of women within the context of international human rights discourse become more powerful in framing a U.S. national identity, it seems that only certain issues (located in Other places that are always assumed to be behind) come to define the US women's human rights campaign.
Even while human rights and feminist literatures recognize the fallacy of assuming a western gaze in evaluating Other people and places, the reality of the representation of women's human rights issues, asylum law, and US governmental aid for victims of violations continue to place Third World women in a double-bind, where she must argue her own backward-ness in order to garner aid. This dissertation asks, Why and how do certain issues become synonymous with women's human rights' while others do not? What is the role of liberal feminist discourses in articulating what and who constitutes human rights? How and why do the women of Other' places become the central victims' of human rights violation?
This dissertation examines three case studies the representation of Southeast Asian women victim to sex trafficking as hapless victim, the signification of the woman/girl victim to China's One Child Per Couple policy as trapped by her traditional cultural conditions, and the casting of Muslim women victim to Islamic cultural laws as needing to be saved in order to protect the idea of a global democracy. The analysis engages with the politics of identity, particularly in terms of how the logic of exclusion works to inform the US feminist mobilization around the issues identified as women's human rights violations. Each case study outlines the ideological processes at work in defining who constitutes the victim of women's human rights violations that is, the discursive effects that allow the US to imagine itself as having progressed beyond the problems of patriarchy and racism.
Current Position: Professor and Department Chair in Department of Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University. Author of Trafficking Women’s Human Rights (Duke University Press, 2011).
Dissertation Title: Performing the (Un)Imagined Nation: The Emergence of Ethnographic Theatre in the LateTwentieth Century
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Jorge Huerta; Co-Chair: Ana Celia Zentella; Robert Alvarez; George Lipsitz; Nadine George-Graves; Janelle Reinelt
Abstract: Ethnographic theatre emerged in the U.S. in the early 1990s and argues for the inclusion of marginalized, oppressed, and excluded subjects in the national cultural imaginary and full rights of citizenship. This dissertation provides a functional definition of ethnographic theatre as a type of performance based in extensive ethnographic research, which uses stylized, non-naturalistic staging and which bears accountability to the studied community. Ethnographic theatre combines anthropological research data with the creative editing, and often the fictional writing, of the playwright(s). This results in a performed rendering of a particular community's life and captures aspects of people's speech, movement, and interactions which could not be fully depicted by the written word. Because ethnographic plays tend to focus on marginalized communities, these performances shed light on the daily lives, identities, and personal, social, political, and historical struggles of people who are often stereotyped and misrepresented. In this manner, ethnographic theatre makes a public, cultural intervention in the traditional discourse, or silence, surrounding the community depicted in a given play. As a means of investigating the significance of ethnographic theatre and the politics of representation, I analyze the work of Anna Deavere Smith, Culture Clash, Michael Keck, Jessica Blank, and Erik Jensen, as well as my own ethnographic play, in terms of how these plays depict and expand notions of community and the nation.
Current Position: Associate Professor of Theatre & Drama, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan. Co-editor of Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Scholars, Activists, and Artists (State University of New York Press, 2011).
Dissertation Title: Latina/o Migration and Community Formation in Postwar Chicago: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Gender, and Politics, 1945-1975
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Ramón Gutiérrez; Co-Chair: Vicki Ruiz; George Lipsitz, Yen Le Espiritu, David Gutiérrez
Abstract: This dissertation documents the history of Mexican and Puerto Rican (im)migration and community formation in Chicago after World War II. It examines connections between race, gender, class, and space and how such dynamics affected emerging Mexican and Puerto Rican (im)migrant communities and politics. Beginning with World War II, Mexican and Puerto Rican workers traveled to the Midwest through varying migrant streams, as a targeted class of temporary gendered and racialized labor. These parallel migrations created historically unique communities where both groups encountered one another in the mid-twentieth century. By the 1950s and 1960s, both groupsincluding earlier (im)migrants, their children, and continuing (im)migrantshad settled in cities like Chicago. As racialized, working class (im)migrants, they experienced repeated displacements and dislocations from the Near West Side, the Near North Side and the Lincoln Park neighborhood. At the macro level, Mexican and Puerto Rican workers' life chances were shaped by federal policies regarding immigration, labor, and citizenship. At the local level, they felt the impact of municipal government policies, which had specific racial dimensions. As these populations relocated from one neighborhood to the next, they made efforts to shape their own communities and their futures. During the period of the Civil Rights Movement, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans engaged in social struggles, both in coalition with one another but also as separate, distinct, national minorities. They created organizations and institutions such as Casa Aztlán, the Young Lords Organization, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, the Latin American Defense Organization, and El Centro de la Causa. These organizations drew upon differing strategies based on notions of nation, gender, and class, and at times produced inter-ethnic and inter-racial coalitions. This study emphasizes the overlapping and layered nature of Mexican and Puerto Rican histories in Chicago. It calls for a reconceptualization of Latina/o historiography that complicates the models of Chicana/o History of the southwest and Puerto Rican History in the east. The project demonstrates how the historically unique context of the Midwest demands a type of historical inquiry that is comparative and relational in its scope.
Current Position: Associate Professor, Latino & Caribbean Studies and History Departments, Rutgers University. Author of Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2012).
Dissertation Title: Keeping Close to the Ground: Politics and Coalition in Asian American Community Organizing, 1969-1977
Doctoral Committee: Chair: George Lipsitz; Co-Chair: Ramón Gutiérrez; Ross Frank; Jane Rhodes; Lisa Lowe; Yen Le Espiritu
Abstract: My dissertation explores the multiple, complex and gradual work that Asian American women and men did in their ethnic, pan-ethnic and multiracial communities during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Drawing from in-depth interviews with movement activists, it analyzes the local conditions that gave rise to grassroots radicalism in three disparate sites -- Los Angeles, Detroit, and San Francisco -- and examines the political praxis that organizers developed to generate consciousness and change in Asian American communities.
Chapter One locates my dissertation within the small, growing field of Asian American social movements and evaluates the historiography and methodology through an interdisciplinary lens. Chapter Two examines how Sansei women in Los Angeles launched an anti-drug offensive that fostered a transformative praxis that linked self-help to community self-determination. Chapter Three analyzes the Asian Political Alliance in Detroit and documents how Asian American identities nurtured across generations, ethnicities, and countries might dissolve without sustained community engagement. Chapter Four argues that the ideologically varied and often conflicting work of Asian American revolutionary organizations in the International Hotel in San Francisco prepared the groundwork for the Hotel's massive anti-eviction movement. Chapter Five explores the possibilities and challenges of Asian American panethnic radicalism. Together, these chapters examine the particular dynamics of Asian American racial formation, place and radicalism, emphasizing how local organizers situated their struggles within a broader movement of aggrieved peoples in the United States, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. They suggest that the ethnic, linguistic, geographic, and cultural diversity characteristic of Asian American racial formation also mark their history of radical organizing. By tracing the histories and affiliations that gave rise to those formations, this dissertation reveals the continuities and contradictions of Asian American organizing in the 1960s and 1970s and their important lessons for our present.
Current Position: Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of San Diego.
Dissertation Title: New Millennium "Mulattas": Post-Ethnicity, Post-Feminism, and the Mixed-Race Excuse
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Jane Rhodes; Yen Le Espiritu; Ross Frank; Nicole King; Zeinabu Davis
Abstract: The idea of a post-Civil Rights era has entered the US public sphere in the last decade. In the service of a neo-conservative agenda, post-Civil Rights America argues for an end to race, a celebration of multiculturalism, and a utilization of colorblind doctrine in law, public policy, and popular culture. Simultaneously, racial difference is feared and structural racism is ignored. In many ways the multiracial subject, embodying "all races," is imagined to be the quintessential post-Civil Rights American. This dissertation examines how cultural representations of Black/white women, sexualized embodiments of the US racial dichotomy, rely upon two extremes: a post-racial ideology of colorblindness (being "beyond race" or raceless) and a hyper-racialized ideology of hybridity (being "in-between races" or super-raced). I examine the linkages between popular representations of Black-white women and larger US urges to ignore the "gray" role that race and gender can play in the new millennium. Current structural racism is allowed to flourish unfettered because "true" racism only happens in the Jim Crow South and between ignorant individuals. In my readings of cross-sections of cultural sites, I utilize theory in literary, cultural, women's and ethnic studies, and rely heavily upon history. In each of my readings of contemporary cultural sites, I draw upon eighteenth and nineteenth century portrayals of "the mulatta." My dissertation argues that polarization of Black/white female images into a colorblindness/hybridity paradigm ignores the reality of contemporary race relations, which occurs in middle, in-between spaces, and not neatly polarized ends of an imagined racial spectrum.
Current Position: Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at University of Washington, Seattle. Founding director of the University of Washington's Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity. Author of Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Duke University Press, Fall 2012).
Dissertation Title: "Black Gold and Brown Lives: Racial Violence, Memory, and Multiracial Activism In Baytown, Texas."
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Co-Chair: Denise Ferreira da Silva; Robert Alvarez; David Gutiérrez; Rosaura Sanchez; George Sanchez
Abstract: Seemingly emboldened by their growing numbers in the past decade, a coalition of non-white residents of Baytown, Texas recently formed the United Concerned Citizens of Baytown (UCCB). The UCCB is the first grass roots anti-racist organization of its kind in Baytown and was established to combat a pervasive legacy of police brutality. Baytown thus makes a good site to study the effects of recent demographic change on majority-minority relations. It also makes a good site to study the effects of these changes on inter-minority, specifically black-brown, relations. Adhering to the resource competition theory, most recent scholarship on changing black-brown relations posits that a rapidly growing Latino/a population has intensified competition between blacks and Latinos/as over scarce material resources, resulting in new black-brown tensions. Although this literature reveals a crucial reality about contemporary race relations, the relative dearth of counter examples leaves the impression that these groups are so consumed by economic disparity that they fail to recognize the many similar plights that they share. The establishment of the UCCB refutes this notion by showing how Blacks and Latinos/as have formed an inter-minority alliance based on their shared experience with racial violencea type of racial injustice that I propose is irreducible to resource competition and seems capable of shaping majority-minority and inter-minority relations in distinct ways. This dissertation seeks to understand the historic and contemporary circumstances that enable the emergence of a black-brown coalition at this moment in time and to understand the impact such circumstances might have on contemporary racial politics in Baytown and perhaps beyond.
Current Position: Associate Professor, African American Studies and Latino/a Studies, Northwestern University. Author of Black-Brown Solidarity: Racial Politics in the New Gulf South (University of Texas Press, 2014).
Dissertation Title: On Their Own: Asian Americans, Public Assistance, and Constructions of Self-Reliance
Doctoral Committee: Chair: Yen Le Espiritu; Ramón Gutiérrez; Charles Briggs; Jane Rhodes; Richard Madsen; Claire Jean Kim
Abstract: This dissertation is a study of public assistance , race , and cultural citizenship. It examines the processes involved in the racialization of ethnic minorities in the United States, focusing on how public assistance recipients of color are stigmatized as inferior and problematic members of society. Put differently, this project looks at how being an ethnic minority and being on public assistance negatively impacts one's cultural citizenship, or membership within a society. The subject of this project is Asian Americans and their relationship to the American welfare state. Based primarily on the examination of popular new presses, I show how the cultural citizenship of Asian Americans has been defined largely by their ability to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, their demonstration of non-reliance and non-demands on the welfare state. This was clearly illustrated in a 1966 article in the U.S. News and World Report. The magazine story reported, At a time when it is being proposed that hundreds of billions be spent to uplift Negroes and other minorities, the nation's 300,000 Chinese Americans are moving ahead on their own with no help from anyone else. The article claimed that Chinese Americans depend on their own efforts not a welfare check in order to reach America's promised land.' In this study, I treat the concept of welfare dependency as a social phenomenon to be critically studied, rather than as a social problem to be eradicated. One of the main goals of this dissertation is to elucidate the often-elusive relationship between Asian Americans and the American welfare state. It is my hope that this study will help progressive poverty researchers, policy makers, welfare administrators, and social workers better understand and therefore be more equipped to respond to the powerful role racialized constructs play in the politics surrounding welfare recipients, policies, and provisions in the United States.
Current Position: Founding Executive Director, Office of Innovative Teaching and Technology, Azusa Pacific University
Dissertation Title: Beyond lift every voice and sing: The culture of uplift, identity, and politics in Black musical theater (James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson, Bob Cole)
Doctoral Committee: Chair: George Lipsitz; Ross Frank; Ramón Gutiérrez; Jane Rhodes; Anthony Davis; George Lewis; Bennetta Jules-Rosette
Abstract: During the early twentieth century, the African American musical theater team of James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson and Bob Cole communicated a politics of uplift in offering audiences Black men as heroes and Black women as heroines in their Broadway theatrical productions of Shoo Fly Regiment (1906) and The Red Moon (1908). The settings, situations and plot lines in these productions linked the communal Black struggle for social advancement, education, and citizenship to images of heroic Black masculinity in the service of the United States, and Black female respectability to legitimate Black women in U.S. society. Through their music Cole and Johnson worked to help uplift other racialized communities. Booker T. Washington's agenda of educational uplift and gender equality appears as the thread that weaves through Cole and Johnson's social, political, and theatrical thought. The Johnson Brothers wrote "Lift Every Voice and Sing" in 1896 in honor of Booker T. Washington. Their two Broadway shows paid homage to Washington and reflected the message of "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Drawing on historical archival materials, textual study of sheet music, theater playbills, programs, and material from secondary sources, as well as utilizing structural semiotics, historical analysis, literary theory, social history research methods, and cultural studies, this project explores how roles and representations in Black musical theater both reflected and challenged the dominant social order. Many may dismiss Cole and Johnson as passive conformists or active participants in an agenda which included self-debasement and deference to Whites, but Cole and Johnson in reality worked as a part of a collective culture of uplift that combined conservative and progressive ideas in a complex and historically specific strategy for overcoming racism and its effects. The uplift ideology was well intentioned and humanistically motivated, but it was not enough to combat the white racism that produced the struggle for power and representation in the first place. Yet despite the fact that the uplift ideology remains flawed, Cole and Johnson's contributions in changing the representative images of African Americans on stage were incredibly important and the gains made should not be overlooked or ignored.
Current Position: Associate Professor, Africana Studies Program and the Sociology Department, Virginia Tech. Author of Beyond Lift Every Voice and Sing: The Culture of Uplift, Identity, and Politics in Black Musical Theater (Ohio State University Press, 2009), which received the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians.
Dissertation Title: Disciplinary fictions: The sociality of private problems in contemporary California (California)
Doctoral Committee: Chair: George Lipsitz; Yen Le Espiritu; Jane Rhodes; Denise Ferreira da Silva; Lisa Lowe; Barbara Tomlinson
Abstract: "Disciplinary Fictions: The Sociality of Private Problems in Contemporary California" argues that privatization, as a material process and a cultural ideology, works on multiple levels to render social and economic problems as personal anxieties. During the 1990s and continuing into the present, California voters passed several initiatives that adversely targeted marginalized individuals, their families, and communities. Such actions constitute evidence of a general disposition to privatize resources, which California's history of suburbanization has already facilitated through local government, zoning ordinances, contract services, and property taxes. For those benefiting most from the concentration and accumulation of wealth and resources, privatization ideologically justifies and distorts the unequal social and spatial relations structured by history and sustained in the present. Yet as an ideology, privatization also relies upon racial, gendered, and sexual fictions that narrate social and economic problems as the personal failures and shortcomings of marginalized individuals, families, and communities. These marginalized and aggrieved groups are neither wholly complicit nor exclusively resistant, rather they develop ways of knowing and methods for acting that are adaptable and instrumental to both survival and struggle. In its entirety, the project reveals how disciplinary fictions about race, gender, and community always work complexly and in complicated ways. My comparative approach to California literature shows the ways in which social problems are rendered private in victim narratives, but exposed as structural and ideological in the stories silenced by these dominant narratives. My work helps to emphasize that our own racial and spatial positions necessarily affect and influence how we are all disciplined by fictions, but in various ways and to different degrees while the interdisciplinary methodology of this work helps to complicate the boundaries between what we assume is fictional and what we think is true. The stake of this work is simple: some people's lives have been defined as worth-less than others, and it is urgent that we begin to challenge, complicate, and interrogate the ways in which unequal valuations have become so ingrained in so many everyday ways of knowing.
Current Position: Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, English, LAS Global Studies, and Latina/Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Author of Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected (NYU Press, 2013). Winner of the 2013 John Hope Franklin Book Prize presented by the American Studies Association.
Dissertation Title: Conceiving images: Racialized visions of the maternal (Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey)
Doctoral Committee: Chair: George Lipsitz; Charles Briggs; Jane Rhodes; Ellen Seiter; Lisa Lowe
Abstract: This dissertation examines the co-constitutive and intertextual relationship between apparently separate sites of visual production to examine the "pieces" of imaged objects that make the popular and institutional witnessing of maternal bodies, and the experience of motherhood always, already racialized. Taking different cultural sites as points of departure—including photojournalism, film, and the visual media components of a teen pregnancy prevention initiative—each of the chapters analyzes the role of the visual in eliciting public sentimentality and affect around U.S. national(ist) configurations of "proper maternity." The first chapter contextualizes the posthumous circulation of images of Diana Spencer within a cultural history of racialized sentimentality that has its roots in the late 19th century. By first illuminating the racialized ideological material through which "The Queen of Our Hearts" (Diana) is "resurrected" as an ideal mother in U.S. popular journalism, this discussion sets the stage to investigate this material as it is intertextually, dialogically produced with other visual forms. Chapter 2 focuses on the 1998 film Beloved and considers whether or not the film's attempts to convey alternative experiences and meanings of the maternal are successful, given the racialized discursive terrains within which the construction and reception of its visual narrative occurs. This chapter also considers how the media persona of Oprah Winfrey, and her publicly granted titles of "America's psychiatrist" and "The Conscience of Our Times" impact the sentimental racial codes through which the film's productions of history, memory, and motherhood are read. The third and final chapter incorporates the readings and formulations developed in the rest of the dissertation to illumine the relationship between popular visual and state institutional productions of maternity. This chapter focuses on a California Department of Health Services public health education initiative that, between 1996 and 2000, drew on "citizens'" concerns about changing racial demographics, immigration, and non-traditional family structures to racialize the visual rhetoric of the "teenage pregnancy" problem. The dissertation as a whole demonstrates the co-constitutive role of seemingly disparate visual configurations of maternity to institutional (re)productions of national culture and identity.
Current Position: Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at University of Michigan. Author of American Pietàs: Visions of Race, Death and the Maternal (University of Minnesota Press, 2011); and co-editor of Interrupted Life: The Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the U.S. (University of California Press, 2010).