Director’s Message

Jason Chang
Associate Professor of History and Director of the AAASI
(Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Welcome to the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute website. My name is Jason Oliver Chang, I’m Associate Professor of History and Asian American studies and I’m also beginning my first year as director of this academic unit. We have an exciting slate of events this year that highlight our transnational and diaspora focus. Our invited guests this year will address topics as diverse as Queer Theory in China, Law of the Sea, early Asian American literature, and our annual remembrance of WWII-era  Japanese American internment. These events complement our recent curricular changes with dual tracks in Area Studies and Ethnic Studies.

In addition to revising our minor in Asian American studies, we have also developed a minor in Asian Studies, and continue to offer a minor in India Studies. As a twenty-five year old institute, we have grown considerably since our inception and have a much stronger capacity to meet the needs of today’s world. Current headlines speak to the ongoing relevance of active research in and robust teaching on Asia and Asian Americans. From the ongoing tensions in the Korean peninsula to the rise in ethno-nationalism across the region teaching and research on Asia is paramount to the University’s mission to promote global engagement. Furthermore, the aggressive restrictionist agenda in U.S. immigration policy reflects the persistent legacy of Asian American struggles against racial bans, deportations, immigrant incarceration, and racial persecution which highlight our critical work to deliver an anti-racist curriculum as originally demanded by UConn students in the 1980s.

Our faculty are at the cutting edge of their fields, as observed through their research they bring the process of knowledge creation into the classroom. This year we are fortunate to be welcoming a new addition to our faculty, Professor Na-Rae Kim, will join our ranks as an Assistant Professor in Residence adding much needed depth to our curriculum. I’m proud of our mission at UConn, a leading public institution of higher education, to elevate critical scholarship and engaged teaching about Asia and Asian Americans. Recent publications from our core faculty like Political Science Professor Fred Lee’s first monograph,Extraordinary Racial Politics: Four Events in the Informal Constitution of the United States (with Temple University Press) and History Professor Victor Zatsepine’s Beyond the Amur: Frontier Encounters between China and Russia, 1850-1930 (published with University of British Columbia University Press) winning the 2017 K.D. Srivastava Prize for Excellence in Scholarly Publishing demonstrate the caliber and scope of scholarship of the institute’s members. In addition, ongoing research by other core faculty like Political Science Professor Meina Cai’s work on property rights regimes in China and History Professor Nu-Anh Tran’s work on competing nationalism of Vietnam show that the institute’s faculty continue to forge new ground with exciting research.

I hope you’ll join us in the classroom and at our public events for what promises to be an exciting and challenging program.

Many thanks,

Jason