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HandWiki. Asian American Studies. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 19 April 2024).
HandWiki. Asian American Studies. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2024.
HandWiki. "Asian American Studies" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 19, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 07). Asian American Studies. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Asian American Studies." Encyclopedia. Web. 07 November, 2022.
Asian American Studies

Asian American Studies is an academic discipline which critically examines the history, experiences, culture, and policies relevant to Asian Americans. It is closely related to other Ethnic Studies disciplines, such as African American Studies, Latino/a Studies, and Native American Studies.

culture history policies

1. History

Asian American Studies appeared as a field of intellectual inquiry in the late 1960s[1] as a result of strikes by the Third World Liberation Front, a group of students of color at San Francisco State University and at the University of California, Berkeley, which demanded that college classroom instruction include the histories of people of color in the United States told from their perspectives. The demand for Ethnic Studies was a critical response to the Eurocentric bias in university curriculum. [2] As a result, a College of Ethnic Studies (the only such "college" at any American university at the time) became established at San Francisco State University with American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Africana Studies, and Latino/a Studies as its four units,[3] and four ethnic studies programs became established at the University of California, Berkeley. The Association for Asian American Studies, a professional organization designed to promote teaching and research in the field, was established in 1979.[4]

2. Topics in Asian American Studies

Drawing from numerous disciplines such as sociology, history, literature, political science, and gender studies, Asian American Studies scholars consider a variety of perspectives and employ diverse analytical tools in their work. Unlike "Asian" Studies which focuses on the history, culture, religion, etc. of Asian people living in Asia, Asian American Studies is interested in the history, culture, experiences, of Asians living in the United States.

Academic programs in Asian American Studies provide students with the opportunity to examine the history of Asian-Americans, which includes topics such as immigration and race-based exclusion policies.[5]

Asian American Studies provides an academic avenue for addressing issues of racial oppression, capitalism at home, and imperialism abroad.[6]

The discourse also includes studies on how first- and second-generation Asian Americans deal with adjustment and assimilation, especially on their Americanization and aggressive pursuit of higher education and prestigious occupations in a society that still discriminates against them.[7]

Asian American Studies focuses on the identities, historical and contemporary experiences of individuals and groups in the United States. Concepts and issues that are crucial to this interdisciplinary curriculum include: Orientalism, diaspora, Asian American masculinity, Asian American femininity, cultural politics, and media representation.

3. List of Notable Asian American Studies Scholars

  • Jeffery Paul Chan, San Francisco State University
  • Lucie Cheng, UCLA
  • E.J.R. David, University of Alaska
  • Kip Fulbeck, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Evelyn Nakano Glenn, University of California, Berkeley
  • Dan Gonzales, San Francisco State University
  • Yuji Ichioka, UCLA
  • Jerry Kang, UCLA
  • Elaine H. Kim, UC Berkeley
  • Peter Kwong, Hunter College, CUNY Graduate Center
  • Him Mark Lai, independent scholar
  • Vinay Lal, UCLA
  • Elizabeth Lew-Williams, Princeton University
  • Russell Leong, UCLA
  • Huping Ling, Truman State University
  • David Wong Louie, UCLA
  • Lisa Lowe, Yale University
  • Gary R. Mar, State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • Kevin Nadal, City University of New York
  • Lisa Nakamura, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Don Nakanishi, UCLA
  • Robert Nakamura, UCLA
  • Mae Ngai, Columbia University[8]
  • Viet Nguyen, USC
  • Gary Okihiro, Columbia University
  • Michael Omi, University of California, Berkeley
  • Rhacel Parrenas, Brown University
  • Celine Parrenas Shimizu, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Alexander Saxton, founder of the Asian American Studies program at UCLA; author of Indispensable Enemy
  • Derald Wing Sue, Columbia University
  • Betty Lee Sung, Professor Emeritus, CUNY
  • Ronald Takaki, University of California, Berkeley
  • Ali Wong, UCLA
  • Shawn Wong, University of Washington
  • David Yoo, UCLA
  • Ji-Yeon Yuh, Northwestern University
  • Judy Yung, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Min Zhou, UCLA

4. Major Programs and Departments

Major Asian American studies programs in California include those at University of California, Berkeley, University of California, San Diego, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of California, Irvine, University of California, Davis, San Francisco State University (SFSU), California State University, Long Beach, California State University, Northridge, California State University, Fullerton, City College of San Francisco, University of Southern California, The Claremont Colleges, and at UCLA.

Outside of California, major programs include Dartmouth College, University of Washington, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, University of Maryland, College Park, University of Colorado, Hunter College, Cornell University, Binghamton University, and Columbia University. Other rising programs include Arizona State University, New York University, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania and University of Minnesota. Currently, several universities, including University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, Syracuse University, and many others are in the process of developing Asian American Studies departments.

Master of Arts in Asian American Studies programs are available at UCLA and SFSU.

At the time of its founding (by Lee C. Lee) in 1987, the Asian American Studies Program at Cornell University was the first such program in the Ivy League and on the east coast. Today it has four core faculty members in the humanities and social sciences in a variety of departments and colleges. This cross-college, university-wide position accommodates the extensive teaching and research interests of the Program's faculty and reflects the breadth of the vibrant field of Asian American Studies in general. In the classroom, in scholarship, and through campus and community advocacy, the Program is committed to examining the histories and experiences; identities, social and community formations; politics; and contemporary concerns of people of Asian ancestry in the United States and other parts of the Americas.

On the East Coast, the State University of New York at Stony Brook created an Asian & Asian American Studies Department after a 52 million dollar donation by Charles B. Wang (the founder of Computer Associates). The Charles B. Wang Center is designed as a vital space for multi-disciplinary and multicultural dialogues. The 120,000-square-foot (11,000 m2) building was officially presented to Stony Brook University by Charles B. Wang on October 22, 2002. It was the largest single private gift ever received by the State University of New York 64-campus system. The Wang Center is used for conferences, art exhibits, film festivals, lectures, seminars, and performances. It is open to all Stony Brook students, faculty, and staff as well as the surrounding community.

Hunter College, City University of New York, located in the Upper East Side in Manhattan is home to the only Asian American Studies Program in the CUNY system. The program was established in 1993 through student and faculty activism, with Peter Kwong as the inaugural director. Despite offering the largest number of Asian American Studies courses in New York City , Hunter College does not have an Asian American Studies department nor does it offer an Asian American Studies major. In 2006, when the program was under threat of being cut, student activists formed The Coalition for the Revitalization of Asian American Studies at Hunter to fight to keep Asian American Studies. The students succeeded in saving the minor program, and they continue to fight for an Asian American Studies major and department.

Queens College, City University of New York, located in the neighborhood of Flushing in New York City , is home to the Asian/American Center. It was established to conduct research with community needs in mind. It serves as a hub for research into Asian American issues, particularly focusing on the Asian diaspora in the New York area, and offers a minor in Asian American Community Studies (AACS).



  1. Shirley Hune. "Expanding the International Dimension of Asian American Studies". Amerasia Journal, Vol. 15 No. 2 (1989), pp.xix
  2. Fiel, Crystal (March 8, 2009). "Celebration 40 Years: Third World Liberation Front". aganda magazine (University of California, Berkeley). Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  3. San Francisco State University: Asian American Studies.
  4. "ABOUT | Association for Asian American Studies". Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  5. L. Ling-Chi Wang. "Asian American Studies" American Quarterly Vol. 33, No. 3 (1981), pp. 339-354
  6. L. Ling-Chi Wang. "Asian American Studies" American Quarterly Vol. 33, No. 3 (1981), pp. 339-354
  7. L. Ling-Chi Wang. "Asian American Studies" American Quarterly Vol. 33, No. 3 (1981), pp. 339-354
  8. "Ngai, Mae | Department of History - Columbia University" (in en-US). 
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