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Past Events


Sea Changes

A Conversation with
Rush Ozeki
and Chang-rae Lee
A tale for the time being
Moderated by Anne Chang
and Sarah Chihaya

50 McCosh Hall
April 28th 4:30pm

Sarah Chihaya, Chang-rae Lee, Anne Cheng, Ruth Ozeki, and Jacquelyn Alexander (of J. Alexander Fund for Japanese American Studies)

The Intimacies of Four Continents

Lisa Lowe
Professor of English
and American Studies
Tufts University

010 East Pyne
March 30th 4:30pm



A Program in Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Wednesday March 25, 2015 4:30 p.m.
Whig Hall Senate Chamber

Co-sponsored with Whig Clio, and the Princeton-Trenton Chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA 
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and discriminatory legislation through 1904 set quotas, with grueling immigration interviews and hurdles. This set the stage for a dark era lasting till World War II that restricted Chinese Americans and saw police raids and violent incidents, with Congress issuing an apology in 2012. To commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a panel will explore the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and lessons for reducing discrimination and easing immigrant integration today. Joining us are two of the foremost scholarly experts on Chinese American Exclusion:

Jack Tchen , Director of the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, and co-founding director of the Museum of the Chinese in America.

Beth Lew-Williams , Professor of History at Princeton, currently teaches Asian American History and is writing The Chinese Must Go! under contract with Harvard University Press.

Chair & Discussant: Stanley N. Katz is Professor of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, a legal historian, and former president of the Organization of American Historians.

Professors Tchen and Lew-Williams have been advisers to the current
exhibition at the New York Historical Society, which runs through April 19, 2015.

See poster


American Confinement:
Race, Visuality, and History in the Quotidan

A Roundtable Discussion Featuring:
Arielle Azoulay, Brown University
Joshua Takano Chambers- Letson, Northwestern University
Linda Gordon, New York University
Eric L. Muller, University of North Carolina, School of Law
Gary Okihiro, Columbia University

Whitman College Black Box Theater
03/11/15 at 4:30 pm

Reception to Follow

Co-Sponsored by the Center for African American Studies, Whitman College, and the Program in American Studies.

Please note that, due to security concerns, the exhibit has been taken down early.

Critical Encounters Lecture Series

Lewd Chinese Women
Chy Lung v. Freeman, 1876

A historical reenactment moderated by
the Honorable Judge Denny Chin

featuring Princeton student readers
directed by R.N. Sandberg

Lewis Library, Room 120
April 3, 2014
4:30 p.m.

To see video of the event, please click here.


January 5, 2015
4:30 pm
McCormick Hall 106

Claire Jean Kim
Professor of Asian American Studies and Political Science
University of California, Irvine
The Question of the Hour: Are Asian Americans a “Minority?
The ongoing debates over whether Asian Americans are a “model minority" presume that Asian Americans are a “minority” in the first place.  In this talk, Dr. Claire Jean Kim critically examines the category “minority” in U.S. political and academic discourse as it pertains to Asian Americans, reflecting upon it as a site of unacknowledged contradiction, evasion, and erasure.  The story begins with white imaginings of Chinese laborers during Reconstruction and moves to the racial realignments generated by World War II and the Cold War and the impact of these realignments on contemporary social conflicts, including the Los Angeles rebellion of 1992/Sa-I-Gu and recent affirmative action cases in higher education.

Claire Jean Kim received her B.A. in Government from Harvard College and her Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University. She is Professor of Asian American Studies and Political Science at University of California, Irvine, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate classes on comparative race studies, social movements, and human-animal studies. Her first book, Bitter Fruit: The Politics of Black-Korean Conflict in New York City (Yale University Press) won two awards from the American Political Science Association: the Ralph Bunche Award for the Best Book on Ethnic and Cultural Pluralism and the Best Book Award from the Organized Section on Race and Ethnicity. Her second book, Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press next month), examines the intersection of race, species, and nature in impassioned disputes over how immigrants of color, racialized minorities, and Native people in the U.S. use animals in their cultural traditions. Dr. Kim was co-guest editor of a special issue of American Quarterly, “Species/Race/Sex” (September 2013) and has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and essays. She is the recipient of a grant from the University of California Center for New Racial Studies, and she has been a fellow at the University of California Humanities Research Institute and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

Cosponsored with the Department of Politics, the Program in American Studies, the Council of the Humanities, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Center for African American Studies

February 2, 2015
4:30 pm
McCormick Hall 106

Martin F. Manalansan IV
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies
Conrad Professorial Scholar in the Humanities
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Queer Metrics: Towards An Anthropology of Small Things
We live in an age of metrics. Value, personhood, and survival are appraised, calculated and evaluated according to imposed sets of official measures and standards. Using an ethnography of a single household of queer undocumented immigrants in New York City, this presentation explores a queer anti-metric stance and process as alternatives to the world gone mad on regulated appraisals and assessments by a focus on the pivotal force of mess and the vitality of small things.

Martin F. Manalansan IV is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies and a Conrad Professorial Humanities Scholar at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is an affiliate faculty in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, the Global Studies Program and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. He is the author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora (Duke University Press, 2003; Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2006) which was awarded the Ruth Benedict Prize in 2003. He is editor/co-editor of three anthologies namely, Cultural Compass: Ethnographic Explorations of Asian America (Temple University Press, 2000) and Queer Globalizations: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism (New York University Press, 2002), Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (New York University Press, 2013) as well as a special issue of International Migration Review on gender and migration. Presently, he is Social Science Review Editor of GLQ: a journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies.

Cosponsored with the Department of Anthropology, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Program in American Studies, and the Council of the Humanities

February 4, 2015
4:30 pm
McCormick Hall 106

Mel Yuen-Ching Chen
Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies
Director, Center for the Study of Sexual Culture
University of California, Berkeley
The Disability in Racial Dystopias
This talk brings under the framework of "racial dystopia" the racialization of environment through and with the invocation of disability, focusing on selected literary works as well as my archival research on drug laws that involve racial enmeshments and the control of human encounters with inhuman substances. I ask about the constitution of logics that inform such diverse attributions as post-Asian, post-American, post-human and post-race.
Mel Y. Chen is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at U.C. Berkeley, and is the author of Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Duke, 2012, winner of the Alan Bray Memorial Award, MLA) as well as articles in diverse publications such as Amerasia, Discourse, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, GLQ, and Women in Performance. With Jasbir K. Puar, Chen is coeditor of the new Duke book series entitled Anima. Chen serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for Disability Studies.

Cosponsored with the Department of English, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Program in American Stuides, and the Council of the Humanities

February 10, 2015
4:30 pm
McCormick Hall 106

Shalini Shankar
Associate Professor and Interim Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Anthropology
Director, Asian American Studies Program
Northwestern University
Assembling Race: Ethnographies of Language and Media Production Among Asian Americans
This talk investigates modalities through which racial and ethnic meanings are produced for mass-mediated circulation in a so-called post-racial society and studies the subjective consequences for Asian Americans.  Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with advertising agencies and at spelling bees, Shankar employs the concept of assemblage to consider how race and ethnicity are vetted and constructed for media consumption through visual, linguistic, and material semiotics.
Shalini Shankar is a cultural and linguistic anthropologist whose interests include race, ethnicity, language, semiotics, capitalism, media and youth. Shankar received her BA from Wesleyan University (CT) and her MA and Ph.D. from New York University. She has conducted ethnographic research with South Asian American communities and with Asian American advertising executives in New York and California. Her books include Advertising Diversity: Ad Agencies and the Creation of Asian American Consumers (Duke University Press, April 2015) and Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as a co-edited volume Language and Materiality: Theoretical and Ethnographic Explorations (Oxford University Press, under review). Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, The Spencer Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and other sources. She has published numerous journal articles in Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and other fields. She is currently conducting fieldwork for her project, “The Business of Spelling: Branded Bees, Neoliberal Socialization, and Language Commodification,” in New York, New Jersey, and other sites, focusing on spelling bees, spellers, families, and media producers.  

Cosponsored with the Department of Anthropology, the Council of the Humanities, and the Program in American Studies
Wednesday, October 9, 12:00-1:20, 101 Stanhope Hall
Martin Gold, Senior Counsel at Covington and Burling
Congress and the Chinese Exclusion Laws: A Legislative History
Cosponsored by the Program in Law and Public Affairs

Wednesday, November 20, 4:30-5:50, 211 Dickinson Hall
Franklin Odo, Retired Founding Director of Smithsonian Institution's Asian Pacific American Center; Senior Advisor to National Park Service; Visiting Lecturer in American Studies Program
Discussion of book, Voices From The Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai'i
Cosponsored by the Public History Initiative

Franklin Odo
The Asian American Experience in the Nation's Service
Public Service and Public History in America

Tuesday, March 5
4:30 p.m.
Whig Hall Senate Chamber

Sponsored by Asian American Student Association and The American Whig-Cliosophic Society

The Life and Times of Chang & Eng
The New Play by Philip Kan Gotanda
Thursday, October 4, 2012
4:30pm @ 106 McCormick
Critical Encounters presented a Princeton student reading of master playwright Philip Kan Gotanda's newest play, about the original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, whose early lives were spent as a touring "freak" exhibition. Charismatic and canny, they bought out their contract and toured themselves around the world, advising the king of Siam and carousing with English aristocracy before settling down on a Southern plantation, marrying sisters and fathering 21 children between them. Gotanda's new work promises to take the audience on a journey as fantastic as Chang & Eng's own.

Reading followed by a conversation with the playwright.