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Alumni Spotlight: Allison Zhang

My name is Allison Zhang, and I am about to graduate from the University of Connecticut with a double major in Psychological Sciences and Human Development & Family Sciences. I am very excited to say that I am starting my Masters in Social Work at Columbia University this fall. This next step is truly a dream come true. I will be on the Advanced Clinical Track with a specialization in youth, children, and families. My end goal is to become a therapist that specializes in offering services that understands and prioritizes variations and issues within cultural identities. My time in Dr. Chang’s Asian American studies course helped me realize how important this distinction was for my future studies and career. Myself and countless others can attest to the struggles and difficulties that come with being first generation Asian-Americans, many of which can manifest into serious mental health issues. I know through personal experience how frustrating it can be when mental health professionals fail to recognize the cultural implications that are prevalent in our mental health, as one simply cannot separate our culture from our health. Approaching these problems with a one-size-fits all Western perspective can often be shortsighted, and has the potential to be extremely dangerous. With this in mind, I hope that one day I can begin to work through the many traumas that the Asian-American community has collectively accumulated, as well as care for the individual needs of any patient that I encounter. By centering cultural experiences in my services, I hope to be a source of positive change for not only my community, but for the social work field as a whole. I am very grateful to Dr. Chang for his support and guidance through my journey, as it was his course that helped me realize the magnitude of the Asian-American experience and the power it can hold.

UCONN ASSOCIATION FOR ASIAN AMERICAN FACULTY AND STAFF (AAAFS) STATEMENT ON ANTI-ASIAN VIOLENCE

UCONN ASSOCIATION FOR ASIAN AMERICAN FACULTY AND STAFF (AAAFS) STATEMENT ON ANTIASIAN VIOLENCE

March 2021

The first cases of Covid19 in the United States were reported in January 2020, and since that time there has been a massive increase in antiAsian violence across the United States. STOP AAPI HATE notes that hundreds and sometimes thousands of reported incidents occur every month. They report that incidents of verbal attacks, avoidance, physical assault, online harassment, and being spit upon are the most common forms. A recent New York Times article also details many of the abhorrent and deplorable crimes and actions that have targeted Asians over the last year. It is a sad compendium of history and facts that delves into the nuances and complications related to antiAsian racism. Nationally, attacks are most common in businesses, public streets and sidewalks, parks, online and in public transit, but they also happen here at UConn.

UConn’s commitment to combating antiAsian racism began in 1987 with an episode of students’ verbal attacks and spitting on other Asian American peers. What can we say has changed in 33 years? Certainly, our resolve and commitment to the community has only strengthened in these decades, while the number of Asians and Asian Americans at the University has grown significantly. At UConn, there are thousands who identify as Asian and Asian American: 12.7% of the University’s workforce (faculty, staff, administrators, and graduate assistants; Fall 2019), and 10.5% of our students (Fall 2020). In addition, a significant percentage of our international students come from Asian countries.

Mike Keo, ActivistinResidence of UConn’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, started the social media campaign #IAMNOTAVIRUS to humanize Asians and Asian Americans targeted by hateful rhetoric, and to counter this virulent and unwarranted malice. We release this statement in the same spirit, to:

  • draw appropriate attention to the intensifying violence against Asians in America;
  • formally state our position in this ongoing conflict of systems, cultures, histories, and sensibilities;
  • and call upon faculty, staff, administrators, and all UConn students and stakeholders to rise to the challenge of actively opposing racism and hate against Asians, all marginalized groups, and all peoples of color.

We state as clearly and as boldly as we can: all of this has impacted us, the Asians and Asian Americans at UConn.What is happening is wrong and we must stand together to not only identify and callout this kind of behavior and its bad actors; but we must work systemically and synergistically to change culpable aspects of our university and society, to ultimately eradicate this malignancy.

Though today’s political climate often attempts to polarize such issues and concerns, we hope that you will see that this is not a political comment. Rather, it is a call for solidarity and commitment, awareness and understanding, attention and action. We stand with our fellow peer groups and associations, institutes and centers, and student organizations at UConn that are committed to combating the prejudiced, racist, harmful, and violent actions and words that attempt to marginalize and divide us even further. We hope that all of UConn will not only stand behind us, your Asian and Asian American colleagues, but stand with us, as we form even greater bonds and grow in numbers and strength across the university.

For we refuse to wear the moniker of the ‘model minority.’ Because of this racial stereotype, Asian Americans are too often left out of discussions of racial justice, thus ignoring our pain, minimizing our feelings, and assuming a passive response. We call on the University’s Administration to formally recognize that antiracist work must account for the historical legacy and impact of racism on all peoples of color, including Asians. Further, we call on the University’s Administration to not only condemn recent acts of violence against Asians, but also consciously recognize the impact that these acts have on our UConn family. Even during the unprecedented times we are living through nowbattling the Covid19 pandemic; addressing the scourge of systemic racism; and navigating economic insecurity and inequity for millions of peoplewe ask the UConn Administration to see that this is exactly the right time to ensure, specifically and concretely, that the lens of justice sees all shades of Yellow, Black, and Brown.

As part of our work as a cultural organization at the University, we will host a virtual panel on March 18, from 56:30pm. “Asians in America: AntiAsian Violence and the Fight Against Invisibility”will feature UConn students, faculty, and staff; provide perspectives on today’s climate and its impact on UConn’s Asian and Asian American community; shed light on our experience;and galvanize antiracist efforts that will benefit us all. To register for the event, please click here.

We also encourage you to access resources and organizations such as:

At UConn, please communicate with your peers and colleagues, with your supervisors, and with the administration, to let them know where you stand, and your need for allyship and support.

The Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff hopes that we can work more closely with you and yours each and every day to combat racism, stifle prejudice, and ultimately deconstruct the systems and structures at our university and within society that uphold the American caste system where all shades darker than white are consciously and subconsciously considered lessthan.

This struggle began centuries ago; it takes on new forms today; and will continue tomorrow, and the next. If our work helps us to achieve greater unity, then we will have found success.

Yours in solidarity,

The Executive Board of the Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff

The Asian American Cultural Center

The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute

CONTACT: asacc@uconn.edu

 

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Statement from Centers, Institutes, and Programs on Racial Injustice and Ending White Supremacy

We, the faculty and staff of the interdisciplinary Centers, Institutes, and Programs, stand together to express our shock, our heartbreak, and our outrage at the horrific and senseless killing of George Floyd and the ongoing violence against Black people.

George Floyd, David McAtee, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Kathryn Johnston, Ayiana Stanley-Jones, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland. Too many to list and too many to forget.

Each of these names represents a human being, dehumanized, rendered invisible, a Black life cut short by brutality and wanton violence.

We cannot look away. We cannot remain indifferent. We cannot be silent.

We must expose and confront the deep, pervasive, systemic issues that continue to fuel one tragedy after another. We must work together to bring real change. As academic units and programs of the university founded on principles of social justice and human rights we reaffirm our commitment to educating the next generation of healers and freedom fighters. The vision of change, which this crisis on top of a catastrophic pandemic calls for, is a broad, systemic, and intergenerational strategy. We recognize that broad societal change cannot be legislated alone, but must be cultivated community by community, day by day. To that end, we reaffirm our commitment to creating communities of accountability; implementing actions that dismantle the status quo of white supremacy; and amplifying the voices and experiences of people of color.

As a first step, we encourage you to join us in programs that will bring communities into conversation including tonight’s AACC Town Hall Meeting, presented by The H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center:
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Racism in the African-American Community
Thursday, June 4, at 6 PM
https://preview.mailerlite.com/k8h6u0/1435486084640281891/n9g0/ (This event has already passed)

We also encourage you to read the public statement on anti-black violence from the Africana Studies Institute:
https://africana.uconn.edu/public-statement-on-anti-black-violence/

We stand together with communities of color across the country as they yet again are subject to pain and suffering at the hands of a racist and unjust system. We support our students, from the African American, Asian American, Puerto Rican and Latin American, Women’s and Rainbow Centers, and Native American Cultural Programs, and all who are struggling to demand recognition of their rights and transformation of the conditions in which they live. We are not silent. We are not indifferent. We are implicated and, therefore, responsible. We will not stand idly by while the blood of our community members cries from the ground.

“Justice is not a natural part of the lifecycle of the United States, nor is it a product of evolution; it is always the outcome of struggle.”

― Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter To Black Liberation

You are not alone. We are with you.

In solidarity,

African American Cultural Center

Africana Studies Institute

American Studies Program

Asian American Cultural Center

Asian and Asian American Studies Institute

Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

El Instituto (Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies)

Human Rights Institute

Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center

Rainbow Center

Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Women’s Center

Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program

A Letter to the Community

From: Asian American Cultural Center, African American Cultural Center, Rainbow Center, Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, Women’s Center, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, El Instituto, Africana Studies Institute, Human Rights Institute, Dodd Center, Center for Judaic Studies, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, American Studies Program, International Student & Scholar Services, and Office for Diversity and Inclusion

As the concerns about the COVID-19 virus rapidly increase on a daily basis, we want to acknowledge how this pandemic is impacting members of our community differently.
● There has been a rise of incidents of anti-Asian racism in our local community, our state, our nation and worldwide. Asian and Asian Americans have been subjected to verbal and physical attacks, cyberbullying, discrimination against their businesses, and xenophobic portrayals. We would like to firmly state that such acts of hate will not be tolerated in our community. Such acts only further perpetuate the cycle of violence and fuel white supremacy. We encourage those who have experienced bias of any kind to report the incidents at https://dos.uconn.edu/bias-reporting/
● Going home is not safe for everyone. For some family, partners, and/or guardians may be abusive. For support around gender-based violence, please visit the Title IX website at https://titleix.uconn.edu/
● Going home is not an option for everyone. Many of our International students are facing travel restrictions that preclude them from leaving and/or returning to the US. We encourage you to participate in the University’s Town Hall on April 14th to share your concerns and suggestions.
● We would like to acknowledge that many folx may be isolated from supportive networks during this time of physical distancing. For many LGBTQIA+ students, returning home may have required concealing one’s true identity in order to survive in a space with family members/others who are not affirming/safe. Connecting to positive resources, people, organizations, and leaders at this time can be helpful. Visit the Cultural Centers’ websites to learn about the different opportunities for support available to you.
● As the concerns about the COVID-19 virus keeps rapidly changing, more and more anti-immigrant sentiment keeps also growing. Unfortunately, a political narrative of a “foreign threat” has accompanied information about the spread of the virus. This anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic speech is wrong and dangerous. The political environment of the pandemic has given rise to hateful conspiracy theories and disinformation meant to scapegoat Asians and Jews, along with Israel and China internationally. We stand in solidarity with our international students, our Asian American students, our undocumented and DACAmented students. In particular, we acknowledge our undocumented and DACAmented students who continue to face the threat of deportation while negotiating the constraints of the pandemic. As if these conditions were not difficult enough, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on the DACA case in the upcoming months, putting additional strain on our DACAmented friends, peers, and family members. Additionally reports can be made to the following websites:
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates – Hate Incident Reporting
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council – Stop AAPI Hate
Southern Law Poverty Center Reporting

Students have shared with us how vulnerable and targeted they are feeling. We are aware that many of our students are facing unemployment, limited access to health care, and other hardships. We also understand that these experiences, coupled with isolation, may manifest in mental health related concerns as well. We would like you all to know that you do not need to navigate these difficult times alone and that we will stand and work with you to get through this together. If you find yourself feeling disconnected or not supported in your current living arrangements,
please reach out to us. You all are citizens of UConn Nation, and in this nation, we do not discriminate, we do not use a narrative of hate, we are citizens that stand in solidarity with one another. Now is the time for us to be safe, be compassionate and empathetic towards each other, particularly those who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus and be engaged citizens. We would like to remind each and every individual that they are valued and needed in this world. The Cultural Centers staff are available to discuss any COVID-19 concerns you may have.
Asian American Cultural Center Website
African American Cultural Center Website
Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center Website
Rainbow Center Website
Women’s Center Website
On-campus resources and updated information about the COVID-19 virus, can be found
at https://uconn.edu/public-notification/coronavirus/.

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 where we believe Asian American Studies and Asian Studies are exciting and important fields necessary to understanding our world today. Through our courses you can minor in Asian Studies and/or Asian American Studies. These 15 credit minors are fantastic complements to almost any other degree track. Our plans of study are excellent programs because they are applied fields grounded in the history, culture, and politics of Asian Americans, the fastest growing immigrant group in the U.S. and Asia, the largest region of the planet in which most of the world’s population lives.  This academic year, we are embarking on an ambitious and bold three year project to integrate the arts into our research and teaching through the generous grant support of the SCHARP Breakthrough grant. We will make several new steps on this path beginning with faculty arts initiatives, the use of arts pedagogies in the classroom, an artist-in-residence programs and an annual “Asian/American Aesthetics” spotlight lecture.

These changes at the institute are synonymous with the larger discussions in the field of Asian American Studies about how this interdisciplinary field of study continues to evolve, grow, and develop new relationships with the study of Asia. This fall we assembled a Summit for the “East of California” group of Asian Americanists to re-imagine how Asian American studies programs can address the concerns of vulnerable scholars, deploy arts-based techniques, reorganize our institutional spaces, negotiate the conditions of “minimal inclusion” practiced in the contemporary university, and experiment with our syllabi to bring today’s headlines and the fault lines of our scholarly field to bear upon the classroom.

The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute has made significant changes to our curriculum incorporating courses from across the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School for Fine Arts. As part of this curriculum shift the institute will organize a featured event each semester to highlight different applied aspects of the minors’ in Asian Studies and Asian American Studies. In Fall 2019 we hosted a forum on Basketball in Asia, featuring players, a recruiter, journalist, and scholar. The forum highlights the importance of understanding inter-Asia, trans-Pacific, and U.S.-Asia history and politics to comprehend the stakes of today’s controversies in Hong Kong and how it spills over onto the courts of the NBA. This Spring we will feature a panel of Asian American restaurateurs to highlight the importance of business development for immigrant communities as well as the significance of immigration experiences in shaping how businesses are formed and maintained.

Our faculty continue to pursue exciting and path-breaking research. This year we are highlighting our faculty in a fun series of Research Slams. In these events students can learn quickly what faculty research in-progress looks like through brief 10 minute lighting presentations. From sustainable cities research in India, to the variety of Korean diasporic literature, to the history of territorial disputes in the Gobi Desert, to China’s cultural avant-garde, and the politics of Fukushima Daishi in the Japanese hosting of the Olympic Games our faculty bring real world research into the classroom and work on cutting edge publications that inform the public and shape how we understand the world. Come check us out at our events and in the classroom.

Warm best,

Jason

Queering Inter-Asian Linkages

Professor Debanuj DasGupta wins prestigious Social Science Research Council Fellowship in TransRegional Studies: Inter-Asian Linkages & Connections.  This research focuses on the changing regulations related to LGBT communities across South & SE Asia. 

Read more about the Fellowship here.

DasGupta is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut. Debanuj’s research and teaching focuses on the geopolitics of sexuality and gender identity, global governance of migration, sexuality, and HIV, digital culture and the uses of digital technologies in social movements. Prior to his doctoral degree, Debanuj worked for over sixteen years within several international development agencies, HIV/AIDS, LGBT rights and immigrant rights organizations in India and the US. Debanuj serves on the political geography editorial board of the Geography Compass and is Board-Co Chair of the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies: CLAGS at the City University of New York.  He is the recipient of the Ford Foundation funded New Voices Fellowship, American Association of Geographers and National Science Foundation funded T. J. Reynolds National Award in Disability Studies, and the International AIDS Society’s Emerging Activist Award. His scholarly work has been published in journals such as Disability Studies Quarterly, Contemporary South Asia, SEXUALITIES, Gender, Place & Culture, Emotions, Space, and Society, and the Scholar and the Feminist (S&F online). He is the co-editor of Friendship As Social Justice Activism: Critical Solidarities in Global Perspective (University of Chicago Press/Seagull Press), and Queering Digital India: Activisms, Identities and Subjectivities (University of Edinburgh Press/Oxford University Press).

Official Press Release from SSRC

February Events

February 12, 2018 (4 PM)

Stern Lounge (Austin 217)

“‘Gwine Back to Dixie’: Slave Girls and Underground Railways in the Life and work of Edith Eaton (Sui Sin Far)

(Talk by Mary Chapman) (Co-Sponsored with the English Department)

This talk by Dr. Mary Chapman interprets Asian-North American author Sui Sin Far/Edith Eaton’s use of tropes we associate with African American literature and culture (I.e. slave girls and underground railroads) as drawing on her family autobiography. New research reveals that her Chinese mother was enslaved as a child and that her British father was “kingpin” in a smuggling network that enabled Chinese to move from Montreal across the US border during the Exclusion Era.

Bio: Mary Chapman is Professor of English at University of British Columbia. She is the author of MAKING NOISE, MAKING NEWS: SUFFRAGE PRINT CULTURE AND US MODERNISM (OUP 2014) and editor of BECOMING SUI SIN FAR: EARLY FICTION, JOURNALISM, AND TRAVEL WRITING (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2016).

 

February 15, 2018 (4 PM)

Class of 1947 Room (Homer Babbidge Library) 

“Hijabs and Hoodies”

 (Talk by Tracy Keza)     

Hijabs & Hoodies is a multi-disciplinary project, a portrait initiative, that questions the dress code for America and the intersection between anti-blackness and Islamophobia. This project dissects the intersectionality between race and religion in America and the association of hate crimes between both Black and Muslim communities, specifically Muslim women and Black men. This talk features artist Tracy Keza and includes a photo series of portraits (taken of participants in Hartford CT and Washington DC).

BIO:  Tracy Keza is currently the artist-in-residence at Studio Revolt, a collaborative transnational media lab known for compelling works focused on social justice and activism.