Seminar Series in Asian American Studies at AAARI (Asian American/Asian Research Institute)
25 West 43rd Street, Room 1000, New York, NY 10036   
Phone: 212-869-0182/0187
Fax: 212-869-0181 | E-mail:   

Organizer: Kyoo Lee (Philosophy, John Jay College, CUNY)     FYI: ReOrientale Seminar @ CUNY Graduate Center

NEXT MEETING: Spring 2012, tba 


Launch Event:
Foreigners in Us–Why Love to Hate?
03/01/2010, 6-8pm @ AAARI 


Activities: Public Seminar with Academics, Writers, Critics, Artists, Activists, Advanced Students ...
Each year has a theme and each meeting involves an in-depth, group discussion of publications, or work-in-progress drafts, by members working on that theme; the presenter(s), once scheduled, could provide the organizer with an electronic copy of the reading material to be forwarded in advance to the members, and each meeting will have at least one designated commentator.     

Aim: Create a Critical Mass, an Idea Factory for Interdisciplinary Scholars & Creative Intellectuals
To provide a productive site, vitally needed, primarily, but not exclusively, for East Coast-based scholars & creative intellectuals engaged in the rapidly growing field of Asian American Studies & related areas.

To create lines of collaborative thinking via an informal system of peer feedback, which also helps participants remain research-active; setting up a publishing venue is currently explored.  

To facilitate the dynamic, interdisciplinary and inter-institutional formation of dialogues and networks among scholars of Asian American Studies and various public intellectuals/figures. 

To promote a culture of engaged intellection within and beyond Asian American academic communities that tend to be fragmented by or absorbed into other professorial concerns.

To contribute to the on-going efforts within and beyond the U.S. Academe to promote the intellectual and political diversity and visibility of Asian American Studies & related areas.   

Xenophobia/Philia: 2010-2011: 6:30-8:30pm @ AAARI

11/09/2011Presenter: Falguni Sheth (Philosophy, Hampshire College) re "Producing Race"
Commentator(s): Alyson Cole (CUNY)
11/16/2010Presenter: Mae Ngai (Asian Amer. Studies/History, Columbia) re "The Lucky Ones"
Commentator(s): Dorothy Wang (Williams College)
09/28/2010Presenter: Robert Ku (Asian Amer. Studies, SUNY Binghamton) re "Dubious Food"
Commentator(s): Linta Varghese (Vassar)
05/03/2010Presenter: Ken Chen (Exec Dir., Asian American Writers' Workshop) re "Juvenilia"
Commentator(s): Jennifer Hayashida  (CUNY)
04/19/2010Presenter: Meena Alexander (English, Graduate Center, CUNY) re "Dislocation"
Commentator(s): Richard Perez  (CUNY)
04/12/2010Presenter: Jack Tchen (Social & Cultural Analysis, NYU) re "Yellow Peril/Paranoia"
Commentator(s): Anne Anlin Cheng (Princeton)
04/06/2010Presenter: Min Song (English, Boston College) re "Expectation"
Commentator(s): James Kim (Fordham)
03/08/2010Presenter: Crystal Parikh (Social & Cultural Analysis, NYU) re "Betrayal"
Commentator(s): Kyoo Lee (CUNY)

Meena Alexander was born in India, raised there and in Sudan, when she was eighteen she went to England for further studies. She has published six volumes of poetry including the collections, Illiterate Heart, which won the PEN Open Book Award, Raw Silk and Quickly Changing River. She is the editor of Indian Love Poems. Her autobiography, Fault Lines, chosen as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books, was revised in 2003 to incorporate new material. She is also the author of The Shock of Arrival: Reflections on Postcolonial Experience. She has also published two novels and two academic studies of early English Romanticism.Her newest book Poetics of Dislocation appeared in 2009 in the Poets on Poetry Series, University of Michigan Press. Her fellowships include those from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Arts Council of England. She has served on the jury of the Neustadt International Award in Literature and as an Elector, American Poets Corner, Cathedral of St. John the Divine . The recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award in Literature from the South Asian Literary Association ( an organization allied to the Modern Languages Association) for contributions to American literature, she is Distinguished Professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center CUNY. A book of essays on her work Passage to Manhattan: Critical Essays on Meena Alexander (eds. Lopamudra Basu and Cynthia Leenerts) has just appeared from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK.

Ken Chen is the 2009 recipient of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the oldest annual literary award in the United States. His debut poetry collection Juvenilia, which will come out in April 2010, was selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Gluck. A graduate of Yale Law School, Mr. Chen abandoned a promising career at a Wall Street law firm to become the Executive Director of The Asian American Writers’ Workshop
(, the most prominent literary arts nonprofit in support of Asian American literature. Most recently, he curated PAGE TURNER, a two-day Brooklyn literary festival that featured more than forty writers, including Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Ondaatje, and David Henry Hwang. While an attorney, Mr. Chen successfully represented the asylum claim of a Guinean teenager who had been detained by the Department of Homeland Security. The case was named one of the top ten most significant pro bono cases of 2007 by American Lawyer and profiled by The New York Post, Essence, and The New York Times. His work has been published in Best American Essays 2006 and was recently recognized in Best American Essays 2007. His work is published or forthcoming in The Boston Review of Books, The Yale Anthology of American Poetry, Fence, Jubilat, Film International, C-Theory, Radical Society, and Art Asia Pacific. Mr. Chen started Satellite: The Berkeley Magazine of News + Culture and also helped found Arts & Letters Daily, a cultural website described by The New York Times as “required reading for the global intelligentsia” and called the “best website in the world” by the Guardian. Mr. Chen has been featured in World Journal, the most prominent international Chinese language newspaper, and China Crosstalk TV. His work on Asia and Asian American affairs has been published in The Boston Review of Books, Manoa, The Kyoto Journal and nationally syndicated Asian American PBS show Pacific Time.

Anne Anlin Cheng, Professor of English at Princeton University, with a joint appointment at the Center for African American Studies, specializes in race studies, aesthetic theory, and psychoanalysis.  She works in twentieth-century American literature, with special focus on Asian American and African American literatures.  She is the author of The Melancholy of Race: Assimilation, Psychoanalysis, and Hidden Grief (Oxford University Press), which explores the notion of racial grief at the intersection of culture, history, and law.  Her new book, Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface, forthcoming from Oxford University Press, tells the story of the unexpected intimacy between the invention of a modernist style and the theatricalization of black skin at the turn of the twentieth century.  This project situates Baker’s famous nakedness within larger philosophic and aesthetic debates about the ideal of the “pure surface” that crystallized at the convergence of modern art, architecture, machinery, and philosophy.

Alyson Cole, a 2009-10 Mellon Faculty Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center, is Associate Professor of Political Science at Queens College and the Graduate Center, where she has been based since 2002. She is the recipient of the 2008 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and her research and teaching interests bridge political theory and American politics/culture. Cole’s work links central questions of political thought—especially formulations of justice, the nature of subjugation, and the possibility of resistance or change—with an examination of concrete political ideologies, rhetoric, and law/policy-making, emphasizing aspects of subject-formation, gender and race/ethnicity. Cole is the author of The Cult of True Victimhood: From the War on Welfare to the War on Terror (Stanford University Press, 2007). Her articles have appeared in Signs, American Studies, Feminist Studies, the Michigan Law Review, and the National Women’s Studies Association Journal. She is on the editorial boards of Women’s Studies Quarterly and International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory. For the 2009-10 academic year, Cole is working on a new project on affective labor.

Jennifer Hayashida, The Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College, CUNY, and a 2009 NYFA Fellow in Poetry, is a poet and translator whose ongoing interests include representations of the immigrant subject and the welfare state, interstitial literary practices, and transnational mixed race identity formations.

James Kim is an Assistant Professor of English at Fordham University, where he specializes in both Asian American studies and Eighteenth-Century British studies.  Samples of his work can be found in Camera Obscura, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, and MELUS.  He is currently completing two book projects, one entitled "Dialectics of Loss: Sentimental Irony and the Philosophy of History," and another entitled "Asian American Anger: Towards a Geopolitical Economy of Racial Feeling."

Robert Ji-Song Ku is an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University of the State University of New York.  He served as the Associate Director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Program at Binghamton from 2005 until 2008, when the program became a department.  Previously, he chaired the Department of Ethnic Studies at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and directed the Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College of the City University of New York. His research interests range from modern American literature and culture to Asian American studies, from studies of ethnographic and touristic displays to his current book project on the cultural politics of Asian food within a transnational and diasporic context. His essays, reviews, and other writing appear in a wide-array of publications, including the journals Amerasia, The Journal of Asian American Studies, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Food and Foodways, and Gastronomica (forthcoming), and the anthologies Asian American Literature, Teaching Asian America, Crossing into America, and Linguistics in Context.  He is currently completing a manuscript entitled Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA. Born in Korea and raised in Hawai'i, he cannot help but adore the most dubious food of all--SPAM, SPAM, wonderful SPAM.

Kyoo Lee is currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at John Jay College, CUNY, where she is also affiliated faculty for Gender Studies and Justice Studies Programs. In addition, she teaches courses and leads faculty seminars in feminist and critical theories at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she started as a Mellon Faculty Fellow (2009-2010). Dually trained in Continental philosophy (Warwick Univ.) and literary theory (London Univ.), Kyoo Lee publishes widely in the intersecting fields of the theoretical Humanities such as Aesthetics, Asian American Studies, Comparative Literature/Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, Critical Race theory, Cultural Studies, Deconstruction, Feminist Philosophy, Gender Studies, Poetics, Post-phenomenology and Translation. Her first and forthcoming book is titled Reading Descartes Otherwise (Fordham University Press), which explores Cartesian alterities such as blindness, madness, dreaminess and badness, in that order; currently, she is working or else sitting on a few other “alterities” projects, including one that looks at intersectional differences between xenophobia(/philia) and racism. 

Mae M. Ngai, Professor of History and Lung FamilyProfessor of Asian American Studies, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1998 and taught at the University of Chicago before returning to Columbia in 2006. Ngai is author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and theMaking of Modern America (Princeton 2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010). Professor Ngai has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, NYU Law School, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation andInstitute for Advanced Study, Princeton. Ngai has written on immigrationhistory and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times,the Nation, and the Boston Review. Before becoming a historian Ngai was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education. She is now working on Yellow andGold: The Chinese Mining Diaspora, 1848-1908, a study of Chinese gold miners in the nineteenth-century North American West, Australia, and SouthAfrica.

Crystal Parikh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She received her Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Maryland at College Park. Her areas of research and teaching include Asian American studies, Latino studies, critical race theory, theories of gender and sexuality, and twentieth-century American literature. Professor Parikh has recently published An Ethics of Betrayal: The Politics of Otherness in Emergent U.S. Literature and Culture with Fordham UP and is currently working on a new book about human rights discourses and contemporary U.S. writers of color. 

Richard Perez is Assistant Professor of English at John Jay College School of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, where he teaches courses on U.S. Latino/a, Caribbean, and Postcolonial literatures.  He is currently at work on a book on U.S. Latino/a aesthetics, which explores the use of the Negative as a catalytic element in U.S. Latino/a writing. His recently co-edited anthology entitled Contemporary U.S. Latino/a Criticism (2007) includes some of the most distinguished scholars in the field and was published by Palgrave, Macmillian as part of its series on American Literature Readings of the 21st Century.   His work has also appeared in the Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

Falguni A. Sheth, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College, writes and teaches in the areas of continental and politicalphilosophy, philosophy of race, and legal and feminist theory. She has published articles on Heidegger, Foucault and race as a technology of juridical and political institutions; racial and intra-racial dynamicsin the U.S. political imaginary; the tendency of liberal polities tolocate "exceptions" to its ethos of universalism and equal rights; the feminism of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the ethics of various public policy issues. Her book, Toward a Political Philosophy of Race (SUNY Press, 2009), explores the situation of Muslims and Arabs, the caste system, the practice of veiling,and the framework of liberalism, to illustrate that racial divisions are a fundamental feature of polities. Her current research is in several areas: the hybrid subjectivity and race; Foucault’s biopolitics in the context of legal subjectivity; and South Asians at the turn of the 20th century.

Min Hyoung Song is an Associate Professor of English at Boston College.  He is the author of Strange Future: Pessimism and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots (2005) and co-editor of the volume Asian American Studies: A Reader (2000).  He has guest-edited a special issue of the Journal of Asian American Studies on the topic of “Asian Americans and Violence,” as well as serving as the journal’s book review editor.  He is also working on a new manuscript tentatively entitled “Asian American Racial Formations and the New Left.”

Dorothy Wang is an assistant professor in the American Studies Program at Williams College. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. She is completing a book manuscript entitled Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry. Her teaching and research interests include twentieth-century and contemporary American poetry and experimental minority American writing.

John Kuo Wei (Jack) Tchen is Associate Professor of History and the founding director of the A/P/A (Asian/Pacific /American) Studies Program and Institute at New York University, NYU. He co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America in 1979-80 where he continues to serve as senior historian. In 1991, he was awarded the Charles S. Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities (renamed The National Medal of Humanities). He is author of the award-winning books New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 and Genthe’s Photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown, 1895-1905. And he is co-principle investigator of “Asian Americas and Pacific Islanders Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight” with The College Board. Most recently, he co-curated MoCA’s core exhibition: “With a single step: stories in the making of America” in a new space designed by Maya Lin. Jack is now working on a book about New York City – focusing on the unrecognized tradition of the intermingling of people, creativity and improvisation of everyday residents.

Linta Varghese is a Visiting Scholar in the Anthropology Department at Vassar College. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from The University of Texas, Austin, and is currently working on a manuscript titled States of Diaspora: The Indian State, Diasporic Entrepreneurs, and New Subjects Under Neoliberalism. Her areas of research and teaching include Asian American and South Asian American Studies, neoliberalism and subject formation, theories of diaspora, and urban anthropology.


Launch Event:
Foreigners in Us–Why Love to Hate?
03/01/2010, 6-8pm


Linda Martín Alcoff (Philosophy, Hunter/The Graduate Center, CUNY)
Terry Hong (Media Arts Consultant, the Smithsonian APAmerican Program)
David Henry Hwang (Playwright)
Gary Mar (Philosophy, Stony Brook University, SUNY)
Gary Okihiro (International and Public Affairs, Columbia University)
Bruce Robbins (English, Columbia University)
Jack Tchen (Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU)

Curated and Moderated by: Kyoo Lee

This public dialogue on xenophobia/philia in the (Asian) American context,
energized by some of the critical and creative voices from inside and outside the Ivory Tower,
celebrates the beginning of a stimulating series of faculty seminars in Asian American Studies
at the Asian American / Asian Research Institute.
At this launch event,
panelists will explore various embodiments of the “foreigner” question, the theme of the year 2010,
focusing on its aesthetic, moral, and political harms, implications and future:
how deep is its everydayness and randomness?

Panelists will offer their own unique perspectives on how they understand this conceptual pair, xenophobia/philia,
and why this issue deserves more critical attention; followed by Q& A with the audience.

Linda Martín Alcoff is Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College/CUNY Graduate Center. Her books and anthologies include Thinking From the Underside of History co-edited with Eduardo Mendieta (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), Singing in the Fire: Tales of Women in Philosophy (Rowman and Littlefield 2003), Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self (Oxford 2006), Feminist Epistemologies co-edited with Elizabeth Potter (Routledge 1993), Real Knowing (Cornell 1996), and Identity Politics Reconsidered co-edited with Michael Hames-Garcia, Satya Mohanty and Paula Moya (Palgrave, 2006); and Constructing the Nation: A Race and Nationalism Reader co-edited with Mariana Ortega (SUNY 2009).

Terry Hong is media arts consultant for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program at the Smithsonian Institution; she served as the project director for the 2003 Smithsonian Korean American Centennial Commemoration. She created and maintains BookDragon
(, an extensive book blog for the Smithsonian. Terry taught for two years in Duke University’s Leadership in the Arts, a performance and public policy program based in New York City. She writes frequently about theater, books, and film. Publication credits include American Theatre, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, Dallas Morning News, The Bloomsbury Review, AsianWeek, aMagazine: Inside Asian America, among others. Terry co-authored two books, Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture from Astro Boy to Zen Buddhism and What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature. She holds degrees from Dartmouth College and Yale University.

David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Golden Child, Yellow Face and FOB; the Broadway musicals Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), the revised Flower Drum Song and Disney’s Tarzan; and the operas The Voyage (music by Philip Glass), Ainadamar (Osvaldo Golijov - two 2007 Grammy Awards), The Silver River (Bright Sheng) and Alice in Wonderland (Unsuk Chin).  He is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Gary Mar is a Professor of Philosophy, specializing in logic, philosophy of religion, and Asian American philosophy, at Stony Brook University.  In 1997 Gary Mar was the catalyst for the donation of the Charles B. Wang Asian American Center, which was at that time the largest donation in the history of the public education system in New York State., and he continues to serve as the founding director of the Asian American Center Bridge.  Gary Mar is currently a member of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission, a member of the community advisory board for public TV station WLIW21, VP of education for Organization of Chinese Americans, a member of the executive board for the Council on Prejudice Reduction, and Chair of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies.  Gary Mar has won numerous awards including the President’s and Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, a fellowship with the Academy of Scholar-Teachers, and the Outstanding Professor Award from the Alumni Association. 

Gary Y. Okihiro is Professor of International and Public Affairs and the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University.  He is author of ten books, including Common Ground: Reimagining American History (a Choice outstanding academic book) and The Columbia Guide to Asian American History (an Association for Asian American Studies award-winning book).  Two of his trilogy on space/time, Island World: A History of Hawai`i and the United States (2008) and Pineapple Culture: A History of the Tropical and Temperate Zones (2009), are from the University of California Press.  He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Studies Association, and is a past president of the Association for Asian American Studies.

Bruce Robbins is Old Dominion Foundation Professor of the Humanities in the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.  He has also taught at the universities of Geneva and Lausanne in Switzerland and at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and has held visiting positions at Harvard, Cornell, and NYU.  His most recent book is Upward Mobility and the Common Good (Princeton 2007).  He is also the author of Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress (1999), The Servant's Hand: English Fiction from Below (1986), and Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, Professionalism, Culture (1993) and is co-author of the Longman Anthology of World Literature (2003).  He has edited Intellectuals: Aesthetics, Politics, Academics (1990) and The Phantom Public Sphere (1993) and co-edited (with Pheng Cheah) Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation (1998).  He was co-editor of the journal Social Text from 1991 to 2000 and is presently on the editorial board of boundary 2.  He is co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays on Immanuel Wallerstein.  His current research is on versions of cosmopolitanism.

John Kuo Wei (Jack) Tchen is Associate Professor of History and the founding director of the A/P/A (Asian/Pacific /American) Studies Program and Institute at New York University, NYU. He co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America in 1979-80 where he continues to serve as senior historian. In 1991, he was awarded the Charles S. Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities (renamed The National Medal of Humanities). He is author of the award-winning books New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 and Genthe’s Photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown, 1895-1905. And he is co-principle investigator of “Asian Americas and Pacific Islanders Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight” with The College Board. Most recently, he co-curated MoCA’s core exhibition: “With a single step: stories in the making of America” in a new space designed by Maya Lin. Jack is now working on a book about New York City – focusing on the unrecognized tradition of the intermingling of people, creativity and improvisation of everyday residents.