The Center for Asian American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin's E-newsletter
Red Threads, Center for Asian American Newsletter

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Message from the Director

The academic year 2014-15 comes to an end, and it is the end of my first year as director of the Center for Asian American Studies. I didn’t realize how much I did not know when I first began. I want to thank our majors for teaching me about what they want. Our monthly lunches together have been an invaluable lesson for me in what it takes to sit at the helm of the Center. I am grateful for Professors North Cooc, Rowena Fong, Heather Hindman, Rob Oppenheim, Snehal Shingavi and Eric Tang for their insightful guidance; because of you I do not do this work in isolation. A big thank you to Associate Dean Richard Flores who has made time for me every month to talk through how to steer the Center in directions our core faculty want it to go. I am deeply grateful to Dana Harada and Sona Shah. Without them none of this would be possible. Dana won’t be at the Center anymore, and her presence will be sorely missed. Thank you for your work, Dana. And finally to Petro On and Nicholas Chan, our students who worked at the Center; Petro is an Asian American Studies major, and Nick an Asian Studies and Government double major. Both are graduating, and moving on. A big “thank you” to both of you for doing more than what was required of you. You are the heartbeat that keeps it all going. Go hook ‘em. 
Sharmila Rudrappa
Director, Center for Asian American Studies
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology


Spring 2015 Programming


Wenhong Chen (left), North Cooc (top right), Snehal Shingavi (bottom right)Asian American Studies Faculty Research Series

This semester CAAS hosted a series of talks by Center faculty to share with students their career path into academia and conducting Asian American research in various disciplines. In February, Dr. North Cooc CAAS core faculty and assistant professor in special education spoke on the topic of special education and Asian Americans. Dr. Wenhong Chen, CAAS faculty affiliate and assistant professor in Radio-Television-Film, presented in early April on her research on media, networks, and cultural capital. And the final talk this spring was by Dr. Snehal Shingavi, CAAS core faculty and associate professor in English, who spoke about South Asian literature and India’s under-development. Many thanks to Drs. Cooc, Chen and Shingavi for sharing their stories and insights on their work. Special thanks also to the Multicultural Engagement Center for providing the space. CAAS will continue these research talks in the next academic year so look for details on the website in August. 

Patriarchal Bargains in the 21st Century: Infertility, Childlessness and Gender Relations in Turkey, talk by Dr. Zeynep Gurtin

Dr. Zeynep Gurtin, research associate at the Reproductive Sociology Research Unit, University of Cambridge visited us in February to discuss her research in a Turkish infertility clinic with doctors and couples undergoing fertility assistance. She argues that assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are a resource for many women in negotiating the circumstances that arise from their infertility issues. She shows that the workings of gender power within families and communities are much more nuanced and multi-faceted than we might imagine.

Discussion on Reproductive Justice for Asian Americans and the Purvi Patel Case

CAAS hosted a discussion led by Center director Dr. Sharmila Rudrappa on the recent case of Purvi Patel, an Indian-American woman in Indiana charged with feticide and child neglect. Patel is the second woman to be charged with feticide in Indiana, the first being Chinese American Bei Bei Shuai, in 2001, for a similar case of probable miscarriage. The discussion focused on how these two cases relate to issues of reproductive justice for Asian American women today. Professor Rudrappa is teaching an upper-division undergraduate course in Spring 2016 on Race and Reproductive Justice.

Breakthrough Conference

In April 2015 CAAS had the honor to work with the Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective (APAC) to host Breakthrough, a one-day conference targeted towards Asian American students at UT who want to learn more about their role in society and the impact they can have on campus and beyond. CAAS and APAC organized a series of workshops focused on Asian American issues, developing professional skills, and community building. Read more about the conference here.



Center Workshops

CAAS sponsored a workshop in March with Dr. Martin Manalansan, associate professor in anthropology at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, on his work-in-progress titled "The Architecture of Care in the Migrant House: Feminist Anthropology, Affective Ecologies and the Filipino Global Diaspora." The workshop was co-sponsored with the LGBTQ/Sexualities Research Cluster in Women's and Gender Studies. CAAS also hosted a workshop in May with Dr. Jason Oliver Chang, assistant professor in history at University of Connecticut, on his work-in-progress article, "Imperial Succession in the Hispanic Pacific."


Community News

Community Internship at Vietnamese Heritage Foundation

Over Spring 2015 Asian American Studies major, Rachel Dady, interned at the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation (VAHF). Rachel worked on VAHF’s Oral History Project by coding and summarizing several interviews VAHF had conducted over the years. Rachel was even interviewed on Vietface TV about her internship (pictured here). Read more about Rachel’s internship experience here. CAAS offers community internships for students for credit (AAS 378). More information about the program can be found here.


Dynamic Stories: Teaching Asian American History and Culture

Core faculty and former Center director, Dr. Madeline Hsu, and doctoral candidate in Education, Noreen Naseem, led a one-day training for K-8 social studies teachers, librarians, and secondary world language teachers on teaching Asian American history. Participants received 6 hours of CPE credit and lesson plans on topics such as the Chinese expulsion and Angel Island, Philippine farm workers, incarceration, and the role of Asian Americans in the civil rights movement. The event was sponsored by Austin Independent School District, the Asian American Resource Center and CAAS. Read more about the training here.


People at CAAS

CAAS Graduates

Congratulations to CAAS student associates Nicholas Chan and Petro On (pictured here)! Nicholas is graduating with a double major in Government and Asian Studies and Petro in Asian American Studies. Congratulations also to the Center for Women and Gender Studies’ graduate student Leila Grace Pandy who is the first graduate student to complete the graduate portfolio program in Asian American studies. View photos from the CAAS graduation dinner here.


AAS Majors Awarded Martha J. Wong, Ed.D. Scholarship

Through the generous support of the Honorable Martha J. Wong, CAAS awards scholarships each spring to Asian American studies majors and minors. Our awardees for this year are Shenwei Chang (pictured here on right) and Arati Warrier (pictured here on left), who will each receive $600. Shenwei Chang is an Asian American Studies and aerospace engineering double major. She is involved in Asian American social, political and LGBTQ advocacy work on campus. Arati Warrier is a double major in Asian American Studies and English. She is a peer academic coach and candidate in UTeach, a teacher preparation program. Arati is also an artist affiliated with Nritya Sangam Indian Dance Troupe and several Poetry Slam groups. The Honorable Martha J. Wong, Ed.D. Scholarship recognizes UT students majoring or minoring in Asian American Studies for excellence in academic attainment and leadership. Read more here.

Core Faculty Op-Eds

Dr. Sharmila Rudrappa had several op-eds published this spring as a fellow in The OpEd Project. She has written on the topics of collecting human remains as trophies, the Chapel Hill shooting, and reproductive health care. Core faculty member Dr. Heather Hindman has an op-ed written about Nepal’s recovery after the devastating earthquake in April.

Core Faculty Eric Tang Awarded Teaching Fellowship

Dr. Eric Tang has been awarded the prestigious Leslie Waggener Centennial Teaching Fellowship in recognition of his exemplary performance and commitment to teaching. Leslie Waggener was an elected professor of English and history in the first faculty of the university and president of UT in 1876. The fellowship was established by the Board of Regents in 1983 and is awarded through the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Tang teaches Urban Unrest, and Racism and Antiracism, which are both upper level Asian American Studies courses.

Core Faculty Madeline Hsu Publishes Article

Dr. Madeline Hsu’s article co-authored with Dr. Ellen D. Wu, "Smoke and Mirrors: Conditional Inclusion, Model Minorities, and the Pre 1965 Dismantling of Asian Exclusion,” will be published in the summer 2015 issue of Journal of American Ethnic History.

Center Faculty Forthcoming Books

Dr. Sharmila Rudrappa’s forthcoming book, Discounted Life: The Price of Global Surrogacy in India, is now available for pre-order from NYU Press. Based on several years of research in fertility clinics in Bangalore, India, interviews with 70 surrogate mothers, garment workers, and egg donors in Bangalore, and intended parents in Australia and the U.S. Discounted Life explains how India has emerged as the leading provider of surrogacy services.

Dr. Eric Tang’s forthcoming book, Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the New York City Hyperghetto, is now available for pre-order on amazon. After surviving the Khmer Rouge genocide, followed by years of confinement in international refugee camps, as many as 10,000 Southeast Asian refugees arrived in the Bronx during the 1980s and ‘90s. Unsettled chronicles the unfinished odyssey of Bronx Cambodians, closely following one woman and her family for several years in their daily struggles for survival and resistance in concentrated Bronx poverty.

Welcome New Faculty Sam Vong

Dr. Sam Vong will be joining UT's Department of History this fall as an assistant professor. Dr. Vong received his Ph.D. from Yale University and will be teaching AAS 312 Introduction to Asian American History this fall 2015.

Alumni Stay Connected to CAAS

Did you graduate from The University of Texas in Asian American Studies? CAAS wants to hear from you! Please email us with your contact information on where you are and what you’re up to.

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