Jason Oliver Chang
Director of Asian and Asian American Studies and Associate Professor of History
Asian and Asian American Studies
Recently named Associate Director of the Asian/Asian American Studies Institute in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Jason Oliver Chang holds a joint appointment in the Department of History and is a Core Faculty member of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, as well as Faculty Affiliate of El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies and American Studies.
Areas of Specialty Asian American History; Comparative Ethnic Studies; Modern Mexico
Current Research Interests Racial Transformation of Chinese in Mexico; Maritime Asian American History; Environmental History of the Pacific
Biography After finishing his PhD from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley in 2010, Jason Oliver Chang lectured in Asian American and Latin American history at the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a Masters of Public Policy and Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Combining Asian American Studies and Latin American Studies, Dr. Chang has worked with colleagues in these related fields to push for a hemispheric conception of Asian America that attends to both the transnational features of Asian diasporas in the Americas and the importance of local, regional, and national frames of analysis. His first book, Chino: Anti-Chinese Racism in Mexico, 1880-1940 has just been published by University of Illinois Press, 2017. This work analyzes the regional histories of Chinese migration and integration in Mexican society to show how the racial image of the Chinese shifted over the course of the 1910 revolution and subsequent reconstruction. The shifts in this racial form demonstrate how Mexican anti-Chinese politics, or antichinismo, influenced the formation of mestizo national identity; the exercise of sovereign authority by the postrevolutionary state; and the cultural politics of how Indians became racialized subject/citizens of the Mexican state.
Dr. Chang’s second project expands his interests in hemispheric Asian American history in several ways, with a short-term research agenda that focuses on Asian participation in Pacific and Caribbean seafaring culture. Drawing from business and government records he has begun work on a manuscript entitled Deep Waters: The Maritime World of Greater Asian America, envisioned as a multi-ethnic survey of Asian and Pacific Islander participation in the economy, culture, and labor of the trans-Pacific passage, linking Asia and the Americas. He is particularly interested in the historical development of oceanic occupations for Asian and Pacific Islanders as an abject source of maritime labor tracing its origins in the sixteenth-century Spanish galleon trade, to the British commercial fleets, then to the U.S. Navy and merchant mariners. The long-term research agenda attends to an environmental history of the Pacific, and particularly in the ways that the pelagic environment of the ocean acted as an agent of history in successive imperial regimes, Pacific fishery politics and ocean voyages. His aim is to build an understanding of the particular architecture features of maritime life as an environmentally structured socially signified multi-ethnic/multi-racial contact zone. To this end he traces the influence of the Pacific through the dynamics of its currents and the technological evolution of oceanic domination from the seafaring occupational forces to gunboats to aerial bombing. And, he examines the Pacific Trash Vortex as a material archive of trans-Pacific histories of toxicity, exploitation, dispossession, and imperialism.
Professor Chang teaches courses that bring together the fields of Area Studies, with emphasis on the Pacific and western hemisphere, and Comparative Ethnic Studies that stresses the dependent and contingent nature of race and its intersection with class, gender, and sexuality. His classes address topics such as global capitalism, transnationalism, diaspora, identity and community formation, indigeneity, inter-racial contact zones, governmentality, and the environment, as well as, the legal, cultural, and political economic foundations of colonialism, imperialism, and nationalism in the Americas.
Selected Publications / Books
Chino: Racial Transformation of the Chinese in Mexico, 1880-1940. (submitted for review)
Co-editor with Cathy Schlund-Vials and K. Scott Wong. Asian America: A Primary Source Reader. Yale University Press. Forthcoming
Chang, Jason Oliver. “Racial Alterity in the Mestizo Nation.” Journal of Asian American Studies 14, no. 3 (2011): 331-359.
Chang, Jason Oliver. “Towards a Hemispheric Asian American History.” in Eiichiro Azuma and David Yoo, eds. Oxford Handbook of Asian American History. Oxford University Press. Forthcoming
Research Support Received
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