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Public Programming

Upcoming Events and News of Interest to Friends of Asian American Studies



Jack Tchen, John Kuo Wei Tchen, Visiting Professor, Departments of History and Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU

This semester Professor Tchen will be teaching AMS 362   “Yellow Peril” Documenting and Understanding Xenophobia
Fears of "yellow peril" (and "Islamophobia") run deep in the present and past of U.S. political and commercial culture. SARS fears, charges of Chinese "pirating" and "hacking," the profiling of Arab or Muslim "looking" peoples, and Asians "taking over" U.S. higher education all illustrate contemporary forms of Asian "peril." Americans remain particularly vulnerable to its ideological and affective power. Seminar students will learn historical research skills and collaboratively document historical and contemporary case studies. We'll explore what can and must be done to counter these fallacies and practices.

Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen is a facilitator, teacher, historian, curator, re-organizer, and dumpster diver. He works on understanding the multiple presents, pasts, the futures of New York City, identity formations, trans-local cross-cultural communications, archives and epistemologies, and progressive pedagogy. He also works on decolonizing Eurocentric ideas, theories, and practices and making our cultural organizations and institutions more representative and democratic. Professor Tchen is the founding director of the Asian/Pacific/American (A/P/A) Studies Program and Institute at New York University and part of the original founding faculty of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU. He co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America in 1979-80 where he continues to serve as senior historian. He is author of the award-winning books New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001) and Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown, 1895-1905 (Dover Publications, 1984). He is the co-author, along with Dylan Yeats, of Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear, which was published by Verso in 2014. Professor Tchen was awarded the Charles S. Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities and, in 2012, received the NYU MLK Jr Humanitarian Award. He is co-principle investigator of “Asian Americas and Pacific Islanders Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight” produced with The College Board. He has been building research collections of Asians in the Americas. In doing so, he has critically examined practices of collections and archives to make sense of how we come to know what we know, and don't know.. He is currently co-chairing the effort at the Smithsonian Institution to form an Asian Pacific American Center. Professor Tchen is now working on a book about New York City that focuses on the unrecognized tradition of the intermingling of people, creativity, and improvisation of everyday residents. He regularly collaborates with filmmakers and media producers, artists and collectors, and, through the A/P/A Institute, sponsors and produces hundreds of programs and performances. Most recently, he co-curated the Museum of Chinese in America’s core exhibition: “With a single step: stories in the making of America” in a space designed by Maya Lin. He received his B.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1973; M.A., New York University, 1987; Ph.D. History, New York University, 1992.

Henry Yu

Principle of St. John’s College and the Visiting Professor of Distinguished Teaching here at Princeton in AY 2016-2017, will be giving a public lecture and teaching a seminar for American Studies in Spring 2017.  Professor Yu spearheads an expansive collaborative effort to reimagine the history of Vancouver and of British Columbia through the concept of "Pacific Canada," a perspective that focuses on how migrants from Asia, Europe, and other parts of the Americas engaged with each other and with First Nations peoples historically.   



Monday, February 8
210 Dickinson Hall

Leti Volpp
Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley

Refugees Welcome

Monday, March 21, 210 Dickinson Hall, 12:00-1:20

Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson, Assistant Professor of Performance Studies, Northwestern University

Nina Simone and the Work of Minoritarian Performance

Professor Chambers-Letson is the author of A Race So Different: Law and Performance in Asian America, winner of the 2014 Outstanding Book Award from the Association of Theater in Higher Education

Monday, March 28, 210 Dickinson Hall, 12:00-1:20

Mary Lui, Professor of American Studies & History, Yale University

The Olympics’ Prettiest Champion: Vicki Manalo Draves and the Transnational Circulation of Racial Hybridity and Femininity in the Early Cold War Years


Afro-Asian Atlantic: Literature, Reggae, and the Caribbean

A Book Reading and Musical Presentation at Princeton University

March 21, 2016  


Betts Auditorium 

Organized by
Tao Leigh Goffe

Join the Department of African American Studies and the Program in American Studies for a conversation about the intersections between the literary, musical, and cultural currents of the African and Asian diasporas in the Atlantic World. Featuring British authors Kerry Young (Pao and Gloria) and Hannah Lowe (Chick and Long Time No See) in conversation with Randy Chin, the CEO of VP Records , based in Queens, NY, the most influential independent record label of reggae and Caribbean music (artists represented include: Gregory Isaacs, Sean Paul, Beenie Man). Moderated by Tao Leigh Goffe (Princeton University) and John Kuo Wei Tchen (NYU).

In this dialogue, guest speakers Randy Chin, Kerry Young, and Hannah Lowe will discuss the African and Asian cultural heritage of the Caribbean in music and writing. Exploring the legacy of enslaved African labor and Chinese indentured labor in the Caribbean, Young and Lowe craft narratives that reconstruct and trouble colonial history. The region’s history cannot be fully understood without listening to its rich musical tradition. Chin will talk about the role of Jamaican Chinese businessmen in the production of reggae music and mobile soundsystems. He will also talk about his storied career in the reggae music industry, which began with his parents Vincent and Patricia Chin founding VP Records in Jamaica in 1979.  The currents of the Black Atlantic and the overseas Chinese converge in Caribbean music but also in Young and Lowe’s novels and poetry that tackle themes such as intimacies out of wedlock, masculinities, abandonment, and criminality set in Kingston, Jamaica’s Chinatown and gambling dens in London’s East End. In these cultural texts, Jamaican patois and southern Chinese dialects are sometimes woven together to construct new narrative forms of the Afro-Asian experience in the Americas.

Together with historian John Kuo Wei Tchen and literary scholar Tao Leigh Goffe, panelists will discuss the tensions and intimacies between the minority Chinese community in the Caribbean and the majority Afro-Caribbean community. Other themes to be explored include representations of blackness and Chineseness in Caribbean diasporic literature and music.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of African American Studies, the Program in American Studies, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Princeton Caribbean Connection (PCC), and the Asian American Students Association (AASA).

Free and open to the public. 

Bios of participants

On March 23, 2016, award-winning Asian American playwright David Henry Hwang will offer a public lecture and hold a special workshop with undergraduates.

Critical Encounters Series is proud to present a film screening and a conversation between
S. Leo Chiang and Professor Erin Huang

April 26, 2016 
• 4:30pm • 100 Jones
Program will include a screening of filmmaker S. Leo Chiang's new documentary, entitled OUT RUN.

OUT RUN follows the only LGBT political party in the world on its historic quest to win Congressional seats in the Philippines. Campaigning in an intriguing culture where conservative Catholicism dominates yet gender non-conformity is unusually visible, the Ladlad (“Coming Out”) Party, led by transgender pioneer Bemz Benedito, pursues an offbeat, untested, and controversial campaign strategy—reaching out to a disparate network of working-class gay and transgender hairdressers and training them to be its grassroots campaign organizers. Culminating on election day, Ladlad’s unexpected and empowering story sheds light on the burgeoning struggles of LGBT rights movements in the Global South and East.

Screening will be followed by a conversation between filmmaker and Erin Huang, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies.

For a recent interview with S. Leo Chiang in Filmmaker Magazine:

 For information on the screening of Chiang's new film at the Asian Pacific Film Fest:


Gallery Exhibit by Bill Manbo

With the generous support of the Sakioka Family Fund and Jacquelyne Hata Alexander '84 P14 Fund for Japanese American Studies, we are proud to present a two-month gallery exhibit of rare color photographs by Bill Manbo, an internee at the Japanese American internment camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.  The opening of the exhibit in March 2015 will be celebrated with a public roundtable discussion led by distinguished scholars from the fields of law, photography, and performance studies.  We take the exhibit as an occasion for reflecting on this dark moment in American history and for opening up a larger conversation about the ongoing relationships among law, race, and visuality.