AASP graduates and faculty

Introduction to AASP:

At the time of its founding in 1987, the Asian American Studies Program at Cornell University was the first such program in the Ivy League. Today the program has faculty members in the humanities and social sciences in a variety of departments and colleges. 

With a minor in Asian American studies, you’ll examine the histories and experiences, identities, social and community formations, politics and contemporary concerns of people of Asian ancestry in the U.S. and other parts of the Americas.

The Asian American Studies Program has been an invaluable part of my Cornell experience. While I initially began taking Asian American Studies courses as a way to make more meaning of my own Asian American identity, the breadth of courses I’ve taken through the AAS minor has pushed me to engage and think critically about ideas that span not only identity but also literature, art, history, politics, education, philosophy, music, and film. The program has helped me grow intellectually in ways that my technical major could not.

— Charles Yu ‘19

Featured Program Scholarship: Faculty Publications 

Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America by Christine Bacareza Balance​Citizens of a Christian Nation: Evangelical Missions and the Problem of Race in the Nineteenth Century by Derek Chang

Callaloo or Tossed Salad? East Indians and the Cultural Politics of Identity in Trinidad by Viranjini Munasinghe

The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature









Christine Bacareza Balance Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America

In Tropical Renditions Christine Bacareza Balance examines how the performance and reception of post-World War II Filipino and Filipino American popular music provide crucial tools for composing Filipino identities, publics, and politics. To understand this dynamic, Balance advocates for a "disobedient listening" that reveals how Filipino musicians challenge dominant racialized U.S. imperialist tropes of Filipinos as primitive, childlike, derivative, and mimetic. Balance disobediently listens to how the Bay Area turntablist DJ group the Invisibl Skratch Piklz bear the burden of racialized performers in theUnited States and defy conventions on musical ownership; to karaoke as affective labor, aesthetic expression, and pedagogical instrument; to how writer and performer Jessica Hagedorn's collaborative and improvisational authorial voice signals the importance of migration and place; and how Pinoy indie rock scenes challenge the relationship between race and musical genre by tracing the alternative routes that popular music takes. In each instance Filipino musicians, writers, visual artists, and filmmakers work within and against the legacies of the U.S./Philippine imperial encounter, and in so doing, move beyond preoccupations with authenticity and offer new ways to reimagine tropical places.

Derek Chang ​Citizens of a Christian Nation: Evangelical Missions and the Problem of Race in the Nineteenth Century

Citizens of a Christian Nation chronicles the intertwined lives of African Americans, Chinese Americans, and the white missionaries who ministered to them. It traces the radical, religious, and nationalist ideology of the domestic mission movement, examining both the opportunities provided by the egalitarian tradition of evangelical Christianity and the limits imposed by its assumptions of cultural difference. The book further explores how blacks and Chinese reimagined the evangelical nationalist project to suit their own needs and hopes.

Viranjini Munasinghe  Callaloo or Tossed Salad? East Indians and the Cultural Politics of Identity in Trinidad

Callaloo or Tossed Salad? is a historical and ethnographic case study of the politics of cultural struggle between two traditionally subordinate ancestral groups in Trinidad, those claiming African and Indian descent. Viranjini Munasinghe argues that East Indians in Trinidad seek to become a legitimate part of the nation by redefining what it means to be Trinidadian, not by changing what it means to be Indian. In her view, Indo-Trinidadians' recent and ongoing struggle for national and cultural identity builds from dissatisfaction with the place they were originally assigned within Trinidadian society. The author examines how Indo-Trinidadian leaders in Trinidad have come to challenge the implicit claim that their ethnic identity is antithetical to their national identity. Their political and cultural strategy seeks to change the national image of Trinidad by introducing Indian elements alongside those of the dominant Afro-Caribbean (Creole) culture. Munasinghe analyzes a number of broad theoretical issues: the moral, political, and cultural dimensions of identity; the relation between ethnicity and the nation; and the possible autonomy of New World nationalisms from European forms. She details how principles of exclusion continue to operate in nationalist projects that celebrate ancestral diversity and multiculturalism. Drawing on the insights of theorists who use creolization to understand the emergence of Afro-American cultures, Munasinghe argues that Indo-Trinidadians can be considered Creole because they, like Afro-Trinidadians, are creators and not just bearers of culture.

Sunn Shelley Wong The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature 

The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature presents a comprehensive history of the field, from its origins in the nineteenth century to the present day. It offers an unparalleled examination of all facets of Asian American writing that help readers to understand how authors have sought to make their experiences meaningful. Covering subjects from autobiography and Japanese American internment literature to contemporary drama and social protest performance, this History traces the development of a literary tradition while remaining grounded in current scholarship.

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Happy Monday/finals, AASP! . This is my last Book of the Week , so its also little bittersweet, but I wanted to post one more time because today is my 22nd birthday and also the 40th anniversary of the Gwangju Uprising! :) . The Gwangju Uprising (5.18 ) was a popular uprising in Gwangju against martial law imposed by military dictator Chun Doo-Hwan, where the military blockaded the city and killed hundreds (if not thousands) of students and ordinary citizens who fought for democracy, set up civil militias, and organized themselves between May 18th to the 27th. I was born in Gwangju and my parents would talk a lot about the democratization movement, so this day has shaped a lot of my understanding of history and my own existence in the world. . Chun Doo Hwan, like previous military dictators, was supported by the United States as one of the dozens of right-wing regimes propped up by American imperialism and Cold War foreign policy. Officially, the regime declared that the events that took place in Gwangju was a rebellion plotted by Communist sympathizers, and attempted to censor the atrocities away, including the book Gwangju Diary: Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Age by Lee Jae-eui (who was a junior at Gwangjus Chonnam National University at the time of the Uprising). This book was an eyewitness account my mom said was very popular (though passed around secretly) among college students in the years following its publication. . Its a pretty popular belief that the United States has developed and perfected freedom and democracy, although a matter-of-fact study of the historical record would force us to reconsider this assumption. Moreover, when we say democracy, what do we really mean? Does it necessarily involve a liberal acquiescence to the very American understanding of freedom? The Gwangju Uprising has been compared to Tiananmen Square and even the recent protests in Hong Kong, under the broad assumption that all of these are protests for democracy, but I think we have to better distinguish the values and motivations driving a movement, and think more deeply about what we mean by support for democracy.