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 (This event has already passed)

We also encourage you to read the public statement on anti-black violence from the Africana Studies Institute:

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
● 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
● 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

Forum 1


Mai-Linh Hong, Assistant Professor of English, Bucknell University and Co-Chair, Circle for Asian American Literary Studies

Audrey Wu Clark, Associate Professor of English, United States Naval Academy


In this forum, we will discuss vulnerabilities and challenges of AAS scholars working outside AAS programs and/or R1/R2 settings. We invite the EoC community to imagine with us innovative, adaptable, and inclusive structures of care and support beyond “the program” (AAS, Ethnic Studies, or otherwise), using the idiom of shelter to guide us. “Solo” scholars often experience geographic and cultural isolation, hostile work environments (especially if they are “the first” person of a particular identity), harassment and bullying, disproportionate service loads, denial of institutional biases, and other forms of abuse and exploitation. Recognizing that women and gender-nonconforming junior scholars of color are particularly at risk of isolation and abuse in academia, including racialized sexual harassment, we approach this topic from an intersectional feminist perspective. This panel offers tools for recognizing harassment, bullying, and abuse at individual and institutional levels and possible avenues toward management of these problems.



  • Inspired by Christina Sharpe’s idea of care as “shared risk,” we ask Summit attendees to consider: What would it look like for external or program-based institutions (such as existing AAS programs and AAAS/EoC) to bring marginalized or structurally vulnerable members to the center of their agendas?


  • How might we redistribute risk and resources to more fully care for all in our communities? What structures of community-based support and mentorship can we adapt in resource-constrained settings?


  • How do we create more non-hierarchical spaces in which marginalized scholars can not only survive, but thrive? What possible models could we follow for such support?

Basketball in Asia- Event Recap

The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute Presents

Basketball in Asia: History, Trends, and Careers.

A panel presentation and discussion with a player, recruiter, journalist, and scholar. Connecticut is basketball country. The state is home to amazing basketball talent. From the WNBA Sun team to the home of ESPN, the center of sports journalism, and our very own legendary UConn women’s and men’s basketball programs. Although many U.S. basketball players place their athletic aspirations in the NBA and WNBA, professional basketball in Asia is a growing market and competitive career option. While Connecticut is home to basketball legends, the state has also had a long tie to the Asian Pacific including sports culture. The AAASI minor degree programs in Asian Studies and Asian American Studies offer unmatched training in the history, culture, and politics of the largest region of the globe and the fastest growing U.S. immigrant population. By watching this video of our event which took place on September 23rd, students and faculty alike will learn about basketball in different Asian countries and the advantages of minoring in an AAASI degree program.


To watch the recorded event, click here.

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,


U.S. Marine’s Son Wins Okinawa Election – Alexis Dudden Featured

By Motoko Rich
Sept. 30, 2018

 TOKYO — Denny Tamaki, the son of a Japanese mother and a United States Marine, became the first mixed-race governor in Japan on Sunday after winning a close election in Okinawa, a southern archipelago heavily populated by American military installations.

His victory poses a setback to plans by the Japanese government and the United States to transfer a busy Marine air base on Okinawa from the city of Ginowan to a less populated coastal area on the island.

Mr. Tamaki wants the base moved out of Okinawa altogether. His opponent, Atsushi Sakima, who was backed by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was until recently the mayor of Ginowan and supported the base’s transfer.

Featured later in the article: “It all helps broaden the discussion of what it means to be Japanese,” said Alexis Dudden, a professor at the University of Connecticut who specializes in the modern history of Japan. “And it broadens the reality of being Japanese, at a time when some voices would have a very old-fashioned notion of Japanese ethnicity.”

Read more of the New York Times article here

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

Student Spotlight: Life as an Asian American Studies Minor

An interview conducted by Jason O. Chang, Director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, with LJ Karam, an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut majoring in Economics and minoring in Asian American Studies.

Chang: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do at UConn.

Karam: My name is LJ Karam, and I’m a senior Economics major and Asian American Studies minor. I’m the President of Women and Minorities in Economics, a club dedicated to the empowerment, support, and engagement of women and minorities in the field of Economics. I’m the Fundraising Chair for China Care, an Asian American Cultural Center program that organizes monthly cultural heritage enrichment playgroups for children adopted from China by American families. The program teaches the children about their Chinese roots, while providing Asian American UConn students the opportunity to mentor kids who can look up to them as a role model who actually looks like them. I am also involved in WHUS, the student radio station, where I cover stories for the News Department as well as acting as one of four hosts who anchors a UConn news show on the FM station. Lastly, I’m highly involved in the Husky Scholars program, where I work as a Student Coordinator for the HuskyReads program. This program is a service-learning course where students have the opportunity to go into Hartford preschools and teach 3-4 year-olds about healthy eating and exercise in an effort to creative positive associations between happiness and living a healthy lifestyle.


Chang: I understand that you didn’t know about Asian American studies when you started at UConn but now your are minoring in it. What was it that drew you to this degree?   Was there a class that was particularly compelling?

Karam: When I was a sophomore, I took Professor Chang’s Asian American Experience Since 1850 class, and it totally changed my perspective on what it meant to be an Asian American, and it enriched my knowledge on the perspectives of many other Asian Americans of other ethnicities. I learned so much more about my own familial background, and it helped me to get a big picture about how the history of Asian Americans has shaped their present. It also gave the opportunity to engage other Asian Americans, and get them interested in really knowing more about how the history of the United States has shaped their own family’s immigrant experience.


Chang: What do you plan to do after UConn? How do you think minoring in Asian American studies will help you?

Karam: After UConn, I definitely plan on going forth to some sort of higher degree. As for what it actually is, that remains to be seen. I’ve been looking at a host of Public Policy, PhD, and law programs. Minoring in Asian American studies has really helped me to tune into the type of studies and service I’m really passionate about. It has made me really think about the importance of having representation in mentorship roles, and has made me want to do everything I can in order to be a figure in the Asian American community that can inspire others who look like me.