Forum 3


Jennifer Ho, Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies and Director, Center for Arts and Humanities, University of Colorado Boulder; President-elect, Association for Asian American Studies

Robert Ji-Song Ku, Associate Professor, Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, SUNY Binghamton 

Sue Kim, Professor of English, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Co-Director, Center for Asian American Studies, and Southeast Asian Digital Archive Project Director, University of Massachusetts Lowell


This forum seeks to productively question what does a good Asian American Studies program/department look like? Confronting what Lisa Lowe has described as the “inevitable paradox” of institutionalized Ethnic Studies, we respond to Kandice Chuh’s recent call to radically rethink the intellectual and scholarly work of the field to embrace a model of Asian American studies program building that is more capacious than the project to create and protect  programs/departments – a founding principle of the East of California Caucus. By addressing the limitations of institutionalized AAS spaces we can more concretely identify the ways to work within, around, and through these constraints. 


With such a consideration, the forum aims to generate an inquiry for Asian American studies programs to know and assess themselves by measures not defined by the liberal university. While the EoC caucus has rightfully organized and supported work to that end, this discussion aims to “un-program” the institutional imagination for what Asian American Studies can be. Following the theme of the summit, participants will re-envision “program building” as a means of working within and without institutional structures to assess the limits and futures of Asian American studies.



  • What are the criteria by which to judge the success of an Asian American Studies Program/Department?
  • What is the purpose of the Asian American studies curriculum; what type of knowledge, skills, and capacities are being developed? 
  • When is institutionalization not the best choice for advancing the field and meeting our highest aspirations for radical social change?
  • How do programs/departments work together and against campus cultural centers?
  • How can Asian American studies programs work with local communities?
  • What resources can be drawn on to help build Asian American studies programs?