The Asian/Asian American Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut offers a welcoming and lively forum to showcase a tremendous range of multidisciplinary scholarship, cultural productivity, and transnational activist practices, and has been warmly doing so for over two decades.
Since 1993, the Institute has sponsored the Guest Lecture Series (GLS), often collaborating with other academic and student affairs units. The GLS brings some of the most path-breaking scholars, artists, and activists to the University of Connecticut, and our programs are generally open to the public and free of charge.
Our aim is to give our colleagues, students, and the community outside of the university an enriching opportunity to engage featured speakers who are leading authorities in their disciplines, including Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Human Rights. We have also invited speakers and presenters who are working at the leading edge of emerging debates or are contributing novel perspectives.
Guest Lecture Series 1993 to 2003 Highlights from the first 10 years include Evelyn Nakano Glenn‘s “Haole and Oriental: The Social Construction of Race” (1994) and Ann Norton‘s “Tibetan Mysteries Revealed” (2001), as well as Robert J. Maeda‘s “Isamu Noguchi: The Search for Personal and Artistic Identity” (1996) and Frank H. Wu‘s prescient and still pressing call in 2002 for a deeper dialogue “Asian Americans – Rights and Responsibilities in a Diverse Democracy”.
Guest Lecture Series 2004 to 2014 In 2007, peace activist and former Member of Parliament of South Africa, Ela Gandhi spoke at several gatherings during her visit to the University of Connecticut. Her public address, “Crises of the 21st Century” offered a pathway for arriving at a more enduring solution to the problems of spiraling violence that have variously taken the form of religious and ethnic hatred, environmental degradation, runaway consumerism, terror and warfare. Gary Y. Okihiro (2008), Professor in the Department of International and Public Affairs and former Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, gave the Keynote Address at the East of California Conference held at UConn, October 31 and November 1.
During the 2014 Spring Semester, the Institute’s Guest Lecture Series featured: Lane Ryo Hirabayashi for its annual Day of Remembrance public lecture; Min Hyoung Song, who addressed a capacity crowd in the East Gallery of the Benton Museum; Yen Le Espiritu‘s talk on the Viet Nam War with a focus on the losses and costs borne by the Vietnamese/Diaspora as witnesses, survivors and their families that linger long after the “end of war”; and Pawan Dhingra , who closed the academic year’s GLS with his analysis of Indian American motel owners’ lives “behind the lobby.” Also presenting was Vice Provost for Diversity Pre-Doctoral Fellow Quan Tran (Ph.D. Candidate / Yale) and her talk entitled, “Remembering the Vietnamese Boat People Exodus: Rethinking Refugee Identity and Community Formation.”
The Institute’s third decade of the Guest Lecture Series launched in 2014 Fall Semester with several not-to-be-missed scholar/activists and cultural producers who visited the University of Connecticut: Harvard’s David Armitage offered “The Pacific World” as a compelling alternative to the usual Atlantic-based perspective to global history; Green Dot author/founder Dorothy Edwards headlined the annual Ahimsa/Nonviolence Seminar that focused on “Preventing Violence/Campus Sexual Assault through Bystander Intervention” — which was organized with the Office of the President/Susan Herbst, who also gave the Welcome Address, and the Office of Diversity and Equity/Elizabeth Conklin, who also serves as the Title IX Compliance Officer, and also attended by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of CT, who offered supportive remarks and surprised the audience with his unannounced appearance; and George Takei of Star Trek fame shared his family’s WWII experience of “internment”, his Vietnam War activism, and campaigns on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Collaborations with the departments of History, Philosophy, Political Science, and English supported the Institute’s continued expansion of its Asia-focused purview. The Institute also gratefully acknowledges the year’s successful collaborations with the Asian American Cultural Center; the School of Fine Arts’ Benton Museum and the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at Storrs Center; the department of Anthropology; the India Studies Program; the Women’s Center; the Human Rights Institute and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.