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Assistant Prof. of Political Science and Asian/Asian American Studies FRED LEE Joins AAASI Core Faculty

The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute is pleased to announce that Fred Lee (PhD, UCLA) has joined the Institute as a member of its Core Faculty

Assistant Professor Lee holds a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and Asian/Asian American Studies. His research interests include modern to contemporary political theory, comparative ethnic studies, and U.S. political development. On February 17 at 12:30pm Lee will give a talk for the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute in which he addresses “The Power of Judgment in U.S. Racial Empowerment Movements” in light of Hannah Arendt’s understanding of judgment that appeals to a common sense of the world and guides this exploration of how specific black, Asian, and Amerindian activists decided upon their affiliations, conflicts, and demands.

Prior to his arrival at UConn in 2013, Dr. Lee taught at the Claremont Colleges and held a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellowship at Denison University.

His current book project, The Racial Politics of the Extraordinary: Four Events in the Informal Constitution of the United States, aims to recover the extraordinary dimension of U.S. racial politics from the interdisciplinary standpoints of political theory and ethnic studies. Extraordinary politics are intense conflicts and crises that occur and are resolved outside of the channels of the routinized political process; racialized events of this variety, Lee claims, have the power to disrupt existing social terrains and historical trajectories as well as establish new ones for ordinary, institutionalized racial politics. The book identifies four cases of extraordinary racial politics in United States history: mid-19th c. Indian removals of southeastern Amerindians, the Japanese Internment of World War II, the civil rights movement, and selected late 20th c. racial power movements (Asian American, black power, and red power movements).

Lee also has an interest in establishing new connections and conjunctures between political theory and cultural studies. His essay on representing the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemmings relationship, “The Jefferson-Hemings Relationship Reconsidered,” was published in Political Research Quarterly. A forthcoming essay on Michael Kang’s film The Motel, “Fantasies of Asian American Kinship Disrupted,” will appear in Critical Philosophy of Race. He and Steven Manicastri are also co-authoring an essay on Joon-Ho Bong’s film Snowpiercer, which the authors claim is an allegory of decolonization in the vein of Frantz Fanon.

His second book project will deal with the challenges that contemporary transpacific cinema has faced in representing extraordinary politics and other kinds of radical transformations, especially after the exhaustion and/or collapse of various socialist and nationalist revolutionary projects.

Lee’s courses at the University of Connecticut are centered on social and political philosophy as well as critical and critical race theory. He teaches an Introduction to Political Theory, Modern Political Theory (17th-19th c.), Contemporary Political Theory (20th-21st century), Critical Race Theory, and a graduate seminar on Critical Theory.

Affiliate Faculty Kick-Start 2016

Asian and Asian American Studies Institute Affiliate Faculty members Alexis Dudden (History), Manisha Desai (Sociology/WGSS), Fred Lee (Political Science), and Peter Zarrow (History) are engaged in commentary in the news and premiering new scholarship in the classroom and in public speaking events to kick-start 2016 Spring Semester accomplishments.

Professor Dudden joined Park Yu-Ha of Sejong University (South Korea) and author of a book translated as “Comfort Women of the Empire” in sharply criticizing the recent Japan-South Korea accord to resolve this long-standing dispute, in a Japan Times report that appeared on January 12, 2016.

Professor Manisha Desai (Sociology and WGSS), author of the forthcoming book from Routledge Subaltern Movements in India is teaching a new course called “Gender Politics in South Asia” [WGSS 3998-section 4] that will study the ways in which the body has been the site of that struggle and continues to define transnational discourse in the region, building borders among India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka but also facilitating bridges for women’s rights that provide possibilities for more gender just societies in the region.

Professor Fred Lee (Political Science) and Peter Zarrow (History) are both slated to give Humanities Institute public talks. On Friday, February 17 at 12:30pm Lee addresses “The Power of Judgment in U.S. Racial Empowerment Movements” in light of Hannah Arendt’s understanding of judgment that appeals to a common sense of the world and guides this exploration of how specific black, Asian, and Amerindian activists decided upon their affiliations, conflicts, and demands.

On Tuesday, April 12 at 4:30pm, Professor Zarrow, who is a recipient of a 2015-2016 UCHI Fellowship will deliver “Utopian Democracy and the Birth of Chinese Liberalism: John Dewey, Chen Duxiu, and Hu Shi” that presents two case studies of “Chinese liberalism”, an idea that may strike many inside and outside of China as an oxymoron. Zarrow will argue that notions of liberty and equality, democracy and civil society came together in the politically tumultuous 1910s and 1920s, focusing on Chen Duxiu, who later became a founder of the Chinese Communist Party, and on Hu Shi, who later became Chiang Kai-shek’s ambassador to the United States, and their takes on Deweyan ideals.

In Memoriam GRACE LEE BOGGS (1915-2015)

Photo of Grace Lee Boggs by Grace Holland

Grass-roots organizer, philosopher, teacher and revolutionary – Grace Lee Boggs leaves the Asian American community to mourn her passing on October 5, 2015 in her beloved Detroit. She also leaves an enduring legacy of empowering the poor, the working class and communities of color, as well as the wealth of ideas and activism that ranged from civil rights, black power, environmental justice, human rights, and radical feminism.

Born to Chinese immigrants in Providence, Rhode Island she earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College (PA) in 1940. Grace moved to Detroit in 1953 and married autoworker Jimmy Boggs, an African American who was part of the great migration to the industrial cities of the North from the Jim Crow South of the time. And together, they made a formidable couple who committed their life work to the struggle for black freedom. In Thomas Sugrue’s “Postscript: Grace Lee Boggs” for The New Yorker, he writes,

“Grace was passionate but seldom dogmatic, and unlike many of her comrades she was perfectly willing to reconsider her political positions. In her view, revolution was a process, and it required improvisation and a long-term view.”

In November of 2001, the Institute and the Asian American Cultural Center scheduled to host Grace Lee Boggs at UConn to introduce her to students and her 1998 memoir Living for Change (Univ. of Minnesota Press) via the slAAm! Book Club. Unable to attend, she sent UMass-Boston’s Michael Liu in her place and he read a letter from Grace whose text is reprinted and excerpted below. Fourteen years on and her words ring true and urgent as ever. LONG LIVE GRACE!

Dear Friends,

How do those of us whose humanity has been enriched by our struggles to define our ethnic identity draw upon this enriched humanity to create a new kind of citizenship and leadership in this period of vulnerability, turbulence and transition …?

As I have grappled with this question, I often refer back to the passage in the 1976 pamphlet “Towards a New Concept of Citizenship” [written by Jimmy Boggs].

This nation was founded by a great revolution which inaugurated an age of revolutions all over the world because it gave men and women a new concept of themselves as self-governing human beings, i.e. as citizens rather than subjects. In other words, instead of being masses, who think of themselves as victims and only make demands on others, they were ready to make demands on themselves.

This country is still in its infancy. The ancestors of the overwhelming majority of today’s Americans were not among the few who founded this nation … and established the political and social patterns which have brought us to the present crisis. The ancestors of today’s blacks were here – but they were excluded from participation … even though their labor was building the infrastructure which made possible this country’s rapid development. Thus, the people now living in the United States have had no real experience of the great revolutionary struggles by which any great nation is created. That political and humanizing experience still lies before us all.

Grace Lee Boggs
Detroit, Michigan 11/27/01

PHOTO CREDIT: Robin Holland

India Studies Preview of 2015-2016 Programs

The India Studies Program at UConn is pleased to announce a full slate of sponsored or co-sponsored events.


In 2015, as part of expanding its Asian purview, the Asian/Asian American Studies Institute in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences entered into an agreement to host India Studies on its website and to manage the publicity for India Studies guest lectures/events held at the University of Connecticut.

Since the 2014 Fall Semester, the Institute has served as the administrator of the India Studies Minor. Contact either Prof. Cathy Schlund-Vials or Betty Hanson, the Founding Director of India Studies and Prof. Emerita of Political Science for details concerning the minor’s plan of study.

The Study Abroad programs related to India Studies will remain with the Office of Global Affairs.

2016 Association for Asian American Studies Annual Conference to be held April 28-30 in Miami, FL

The AAAS annual meeting highlights current scholarly research and developments within the field and brings together experts and professionals with an interest in the field.

This year’s Call for Papers / Due October 16, 2015 invites participants to address and reflect on “Gateways, Ports and Portals: Re-imagining Points of Departure for Asian American Studies.” Program co-chairs are Chris Lee (University of British Columbia) and Crystal Parikh (New York University).


Please Note: You MUST be a current and active AAAS member of the calendar year in which you are submitting your proposal (so your membership must be active for the calendar year of 2015 in order to submit a proposal for 2016).


Social Science Research Council Announces Junior Scholar Fellowships for Transregional Research in InterAsian Contexts and Connections

The Social Science Research Council is pleased to announce its Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship funded with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These fellowships are aimed at supporting transregional research under the rubric InterAsian Contexts and Connections. Their purpose is to strengthen the understanding of issues and geographies that do not fit neatly into existing divisions of academia or the world and to develop new approaches, practices, and opportunities in international, regional, and area studies.

The intellectual thrust of the project will continue to be the reconceptualization of Asia as an interlinked historical and geographic formation stretching from West Asia through Eurasia, Central Asia, and South Asia to Southeast Asia and East Asia. Proposals submitted for the fellowship competition should bear upon processes that connect places and peoples across the boundaries of regions and countries (such as religion, migration, media, shared access to natural resources, cultural and economic continua, and resource flows), those that reconfigure local and translocal contexts (such as shifting borders, urbanization, and social movements), and those that are situated at the nexus of the global/regional/local (such as youth culture, tourist arts, illicit flows). The broad focus of the project is intended to advance transregional research as well as to establish structures for linking scholars across disciplines in the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences.

Select applicants will be invited to submit full narrative proposals in fall 2015, and fellowships will be awarded in February 2016. Fellowship funds will be disbursed flexibly over the eighteen-month period from February 2016 to August 2017.

These fellowships will continue to help junior scholars (those at the postdoctoral stage, one to five years out of the PhD) complete first books and/or undertake second projects. In addition to funding research, the fellowships will create networks and shared resources that will support fellows well beyond the grant period through intensive workshops and activities that promote transregional perspectives on individual campuses. The Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship will thus provide promising scholars important support at critical junctures in their careers.

Applications and additional fellowship details, including former fellows’ research abstracts and answers to frequently asked questions, are available on the program website at

For additional inquiries, please message: