First NYC Meet-up Recap
On Saturday, September 28th, we hosted our first New York meet-up! Alumni from across the five boroughs and Connecticut gathered together for an engaging conversation on Asian identity in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. The lively conversation brought us all back to our time at Amherst and the stimulating discussions and debates that punctuate our recollections of student life.
We want to thank all of the attendees for their participation and support. We are extremely excited for the future of this network as we continue to grow and further the ways that we support Amherst students and alumni. We are already discussing next steps to implement some of the great ideas that were proposed during our meet-up and are additionally thinking of ways to reach and engage alumni beyond the New York region.
Student & Alumni Connections
We are excited to unveil a live Google Doc that will facilitate communication and mentorship between Asian students and alumni.
We welcome anyone to contribute to this document by including: 1) a photograph of themselves, 2) their preferred contact information, and 3) a brief 2-4 sentence bio that can touch on anything that you think would be helpful for Amherst students and alumni. This bio can be about your job, professional interests, hobbies, or more general advice on life after graduation and alumni networks in your area. We encourage you to include anything that you wish you had known when you were still at Amherst.
This document will be shared with the members of Amherst’s Asian affinity groups, allowing them to reach out to you directly for advice or conversation. We hope that through this directory, the connections between students and alumni will strengthen and that students, specifically, will be better prepared and connected when they leave Amherst.
Student Activism: Update on the AAPI Studies Initiative
The Amherst Asian American Studies Working Group (AASWG) is a student advocacy group that is working with the College administration to increase the number of Asian American Studies courses and professors on campus. The group has the long-term goal of creating an Asian American Studies major. In addition to the semesterly meetings it conducts with President Biddy Martin and Dean of Faculty Catherine Epstein to discuss the administration's efforts to support Asian American Studies, the group has hosted on campus events such as Cha Time: Asian American Studies Faculty & Staff Panel and a Q&A with Asian American Film Director Alex Chu that was preceded by a screening of Chu’s award-winning film, “For Izzy.”
As of Fall 2019, the AASWG has successfully supported the addition of two tenured and one tenure-tracked faculty hires as well as one visiting professorship. Each of these new faculty members has expertise in the field of Asian American Studies. Given the invisibility of Asian American narratives at Amherst and in America as a whole, the enhanced presence of Asian American Studies at Amherst is crucial to the education of both Asian and non-Asian students on campus.
This semester, AASWG will continue its advocacy for an Asian American Studies major and develop programming centered around Asian American topics. The group will meet with President Martin and Dean Epstein to construct a more definitive plan for the regular hiring of Asian Americanists, including, but not limited to, those specializing in topics that presently lack coverage at Amherst, such as gender and sexuality and Pacific Islander Studies. This academic year, AASWG plans to publish opinion editorials in the Amherst Student Newspaper and direct a letter-writing campaign targeting members of the Committee of Educational Policy. AASWG also hopes to bring at least one Asian American filmmaker for a film screening on campus, host events fostering student-faculty engagement as in previous years, and increase intersectional collaboration with other advocacy and affinity groups on campus.
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Research colloquium: "Asian Americans and Affirmative Action"
In Spring 2019, Professor Franklin Odo led a research colloquium, "Asian Americans and Affirmative Action," for seven students. After conducting independent research and traveling to Boston to hear the concluding arguments of SFFA v. Harvard, they produced a five-episode podcast.
The series explores the Harvard case and race-conscious admissions policies more generally. The complete podcast is available on the following platforms and covers topics on the history of affirmative action, the underlying philosophies of legal arguments, specific stakeholders in the case, the role of ethnic media, and underrepresented Asian American narratives. The students encourage alumni to share widely and stay tuned for their official, complete release.
SoundCloud (no account necessary)
Anchor (no account necessary)
Spotify (requires account)
Google Drive (for download)
Pawan H. Dhingra, Professor of American Studies
AMST-204 and SOCI-202: The Asian American Experience
How do race, immigration, and the state not only shape people’s access to resources but also delimit who belongs to the nation, self-conceptions, and personal relationships? How can ethnic minorities at times be “out-whiting whites” but still be denied full citizenship by the state? What does it mean to grow up within a culture but never fully identify with it? We will answer these questions and more by examining Asian Americans' efforts for belonging and social justice as full members of the United States. Substantive topics include how race, gender, sexuality, and class intersect to influence life chances; immigration laws and trends; how people form ethnic and racial identities while becoming “good Americans”; educational experiences of youth and so-called “Tiger parents”; how family and relationship formations are shaped by race and immigration; media portrayals; inter-minority solidarities and tensions.
Franklin Odo, John J. McCloy '16 Visiting Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy
AMST-374 and HIST-374: WWII and Japanese Americans
In the largest incidence of forced removal in American history, the U.S. incarcerated 120,000 people of Japanese descent during WWII, two-thirds of whom were American citizens. Preceded by half a century of organized racism, the attack on Pearl Harbor provided justification for imprisonment of an entire ethnic group solely on the basis of affiliation by “blood.” At the same time, Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military with extraordinary distinction, earning recognition in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe as the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in American military history. Thousands more served in the Military Intelligence Service using their knowledge of the Japanese language as a “secret weapon” against the Japanese Empire. We will examine the historical background leading to these events and Japanese American resistance to official actions including the cases of Yasui, Hirabayashi, Korematsu, and Endo which reached the U.S. Supreme Court. We will also explore the imposition of the draft upon men behind barbed wire and those who became draft resisters. We will also trace the post-war rise of movements to gain redress, successful with President Reagan’s signing of HR 442 in 1988, and the extraordinary rise of memorials and museums commemorating incarceration and memory-making.
AAPI STUDIES @ AMHERST: Spring 2020 COURSES
Julia H. Lee '95 is Associate Professor and Chair of Asian American Studies at UC Irvine. She is the author of Interracial Encounters: Reciprocal Representations in African and Asian American Literatures.
"Asian American Studies is part of American studies; it is part of American history...It should be a part of every student's education, not just Asian American students'."
-Julia H. Lee