Asian American Studies

Asian American Studies

  • Asian American Studies hosts 10th Annual Balgopal Lecture

    The annual Balgoplal Lecture was established 10 years ago by a generous endowment from Pallassana R. Balgopal and Syamala Balgopal in 2007.  Over the ten years the department has been hosting this lecture series, many renowned scholars and activists have been welcomed to our campus to speak on the subject of human rights and Asian Americans.

    Professor Balgopal is a Professor Emeritus of Asian American Studies and the School of Social Work. And at this year's lecture we honor his scholarship and contribution to the field of Asian American Studies.  His wife, Dr. Shyamala Balagopal is Emeritus of Library Administration and Reference Librarian of the Asian Library at University of Illinois.

    Pallassana R, (Bal) Balgopal came to the U.S. in 1960 from India to pursue graduate studies in Social work. He received his MSW degree from Boston University (1962) and his Ph.D. from Tulane University (1971). Before coming to the University of Illinois in 1978 he held academic appointments at Universities of Michigan, Maryland and Houston. In 1997, he served on the founding committe for the establishment of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, was instrumental in it's evolution into an academic program and the development of its curriculum. Professor Balgopal developed and taught courses for the department up until his retirement in 2000 to pursue his passion of social work practice at grass roots level and has remained a strong supporter of the department ever since.  

    This year's lecture welcomes Dr. Diane C. Fujino, Professor of Asian American Studies and Director of the Center for Black Studies Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She studies and teaches Asian American and Afro-Asian freedom struggles.  She is an activist-scholar in the areas of public education and ethnic studies, prisons and political prisoners, Asian American and racial justice, and international solidarity movements. She is author of Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama; Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life; and Wicked Theory, Naked Practice: A Fred Ho Reader (as editor).  Her current projects focus on the Asian American Movement of the 1960s-70s, the continuing impact of the Black Power movement, and Japanese American radicalism, 1940s-70.

    Dr. Fujino will speak on the Long Sixties protest era, a hallmark of the Asian American Movement was its focus on Third World solidarities, locally and globally.  

    The lecture will be held Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 5:00pm in theKnight Auditorium at the Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana, IL.


  • Congratulations to Associate Professor Soo Ah Kwon for receiving the Conrad Humanities Professorial Scholar Award.


    Administered through the College of Letters and Arts, the goal of the Conrad Humanities Professional Scholar Award is to recognize exceptional achievement in humanists between the initial promotion to associate professor through the promotion to professor, with the aim of enhancing retention of our strongest scholarly leaders. These awards are designed to recognize tenured faculty members who are established or emerging leaders with exceptionally strong scholarly recognition and significant promise for continued achievement.

    The award is funded by a gift from Arlys Conrad, the daughter of an Illinois farmer and teacher, Mrs. Conrad was strongly encouraged in her pursuit of higher education. She always aspired to attend the University of Illinois and in 1940 she received a four-year scholarship. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education

  • Listen now: AAS Professor Lila Sharif on Imagine Otherwise Podcast

    What does the rising popularity of the olive mean for global consumers, producers, and resisters? How do our intimate connections with food build memories and notions of place?

    In Episode 39 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast, host Cathy Hannabach and guest Lila Sharif discuss the role of food in both transnational settler colonialism and resistance to it, how Lila uses the classroom to get students thinking about their own food histories, the complex dynamics of ethical consumerism and where we get our food, and decolonization as an embodied, everyday form of imagining otherwise.


  • AAS Professor Augusto Espiritu wins Excellence in Mentoring Award
    Congratulations to Asian American Studies Professor, Dr. Augusto Espiritu for winning this year's Association of American Studies Excellence in Mentoring Award!
  • AAS Professor Fiona Ngo Named Conrad Humanities Scholar

    Asian American Studies and Latino/Latina Studies Professor Fiona Ngo has been named a Conrad Humanities Scholar for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences for 2016-2021. The award recognizes mid-career scholars with the highest potential for continued achievement in the humanities fields.

  • AAS Professor Martin F. Manalansan wins Richard Yarborough Mentoring Award
    Congratulations to Asian American Studies Professor, Dr. Martin Manalansan for winning this year's Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award!
    The American Studies Association Minority Scholars Committee awards the Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award to honor a scholar who, like Richard Yarborough, demonstrates dedication to and excellence in mentoring underrepresented faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and/or college, university or high school students.


  • AAS Professor A. Naomi Paik's New Book Published in April
  • AAS Professor Lisa Cacho Named Conrad Humanities Scholar

    Asian American Studies and Latino/Latina Studies Professor Lisa Cacho has been named a Conrad Humanities Scholar for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences for 2015-2020. The award recognizes mid-career scholars with the highest potential for continued achievement in the humanities fields.

  • AAS Receives iSEE Certified Green Office Award

    APRIL 23, 2015 — On Earth Day, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) announced award winners for its 2014-15 Certified Green Office Program.


    Twenty-four participating offices all agreed to the five basic commitments to become a Certified Green Office: appoint a Sustainability Ambassador; adopt a sustainable travel policy; use 30% recycled-content and FSC-certified paper; identify, label and communicate the location of office recycling stations; and turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics.

    Of the participating offices, 23 chose to go the extra mile, choosing from among 17 extra suggested commitments to earn a Gold, Silver or Bronze level of achievement.

    The Gold Certified Green Offices (14-17 additional commitments):

    • McCall Research Group (all 17 additional commitments)
    • Campus Recreation (16)
    • I-STEM Education Initiative (16)
    • University Housing (15)
    • Native American House (15)
    • Department of Asian American Studies (15)
    • Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) (14)
    • Smart Energy Design Assistance (SEDAC) (14)
    • Illinois Engineering First-Year Experience (IEFX) (14)
    • Facilities & Services Capital Programs (14)

    The Silver Certified Green Offices (11-13 additional commitments):

    • Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) (13)
    • Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) (13)
    • Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Administrative Suite (13)
    • iSEE (13)
    • Department of Chemistry Administrative Office (12)
    • Department of Natural Resources and Environemental Sciences (NRES) (11)
    • LAS – Access & Achievement Program (11)

    The Bronze Certified Green Offices (7-10 additional commitments):

    • Office of Technology Management (9)
    • Inorganic, Materials, and Physical Chemistry Office (9)
    • Office of Corporate Relations/Office of Public Engagement (7)
    • Illini Union Office of Registered Organizations (7)
    • Energy Billing Services (7)
    • Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) (7)

    The Certified Green Office:

    • Pre-Law Advising Services

    For a full description of the Certified Green Office Program and the commitments that offices can make to become greener, visit the program web page.

    If you wish to express interest in signing your office up for next year, please visit our web form. We will respond in early summer as we begin to prepare the qualifications and commitments needed to participate in the 2015-16 Certified Green Office Program.

  • AAS Faculty receive Teaching Excellence Awards


  • Congratulations to AAS Office Support Specialist Mary Ellerbe 2015 Recipient of the Chancellor's Distinguished Staff Award.

    The Chancellor's Distinguished Staff Award (CDSA) is designed to annually recognize Staff employees for their exceptional accomplishments and service to the University.  Thank you Mary and congratulations.

  • Congratulations to IPRH Fellow Prof. Mimi Nguyen

    Congratulations AAS Professor Mimi Nguyen for being selected as one of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities Fellows for 2015-2016.


    2015-2016 IPRH Fellowship


    The Department of Asian American Studies (AAS) believes in free speech and the respectful exchange of ideas. A vital research institution such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign cannot flourish without such a commitment. This is the foundation of our work both inside and outside of the classroom. And this is why the January 27 and 28 events were so disturbing for our community. At issue are those students who acted on their understandable grievances (re: Chancellor Phyllis Wise’s decision to not cancel classes) with vulgarly offensive invective against the Chancellor. These students, via social media including Twitter, crossed the line by employing blatant racism and sexism directed against the person of the Chancellor as a woman and as a racial minority of Asian descent. Gratifying is that other students and some U of I alums condemned their colleagues’ blatant racism and sexism.[i]

    We in AAS condemn this offensive form of communication. We do not believe that sexism (misogyny and the infantilization of women) and racist language attacking a person’s biological traits, national origins, and ethnic identity count merely as “free speech.” These are, in our view, speech acts, which in themselves are both psychologically damaging and can work as incitements to further verbal abuse and even physical violence.

    We in AAS believe that the U of I community has been far too often silent in the face of racism or sexism regarding Asian Americans and other vulnerable groups. To be silent at this time is to condone the unacceptable and to perpetuate the noxious climate that nurtures these views and actions. Those who believe in a just society should let their voices be heard.

    We can begin by expressing our support for Chancellor Wise and letting her know, that beyond our perspectives on other campus issues, we will never condone the use of racism and sexism in our public discourse.

    We can begin by participating in classroom conversations, programs, and forums to talk about and attain a deeper understanding of racism and sexism and to plan short-term and long-term solutions to address these problems.

    We can begin by acknowledging, as some critical students tweeted, that the undeniable racism and sexism in our midst applies to all of us. We as a community must accept and confront this reality. We cannot resolve such a serious problem unless we name our problems correctly.

    One final appeal: we in AAS have for many years now been calling for a recognition of Asian Americans as a racial minority, a matter that this campus has ignored or sidestepped for far too long. By federal law, state law, and the guidelines of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Asian Americans are a historically oppressed racial minority. Yet, the U of I has never publicly issued a statement to this effect. Such a silence, we believe, has contributed to the disturbing climate that we see today, and unless addressed, will likely make for further hostility to Asian Americans as well as to the large numbers of Asian international students at the U of I campus. It is time for this university to recognize Asian Americans as a racial minority deserving of recognition and respect.


    [i] These comments and more are reviewed in BuzzFeed staff member Rega Jha’s article, “After Being Denied A Snow Day, University Of Illinois Students Respond With Racism And Sexism,”