Center for Asian American Studies, UT-Austin Electronic Newsletter
Red Threads, Center for Asian American Studies Newsletter

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Message from the Director

Dear Friends of Asian American Studies at UT-Austin:

CAAS completes its 12th year with a growing roster of majors, teaching, service, and research honors for several faculty, and two major steps forward in building a significant Asian American Studies program at UT-Austin. 
We want to thank the Honorable Martha Wong for investing in Asian Texans by endowing a fund for Asian American Studies student scholarships at UT-Austin.  As a pioneering educator and elected official, Dr. Wong has tremendous experiences of the struggles but also the many triumphs of Asian Americans in claiming representation and rights in Texas.  CAAS role is to help record and publicize these histories to further the integration and acceptance of Asians in this state.  We cannot adequately express our gratitude to Dr. Wong for her vision and generosity in helping CAAS strengthen the foundations of Asian American community and influence in Texas. 
CAAS is currently implementing a strategic planning process that will help us chart a workable five-year plan for expansion and better service to our students, campus, and affiliated community groups.  One of our key aims is to build stronger ties between UT-Austin and Asian American communities—we hope that this strategic planning process will help us achieve these goals.  
This issue of the CAAS newsletter includes news of events and accomplishments from the spring semester. We have had a busy semester, despite cuts to budget and staff.  I hope you enjoy learning about the growth of Asian American Studies in Texas and welcome your suggestions for future events and programs.

Stay cool for summer 2012! 

Madeline Y. Hsu
Director, Center for Asian American Studies
Associate Professor, Department of History

Spring 2012 Programming

Nayan Shah flyer"Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West," talk by Dr. Nayan Shah

In early February CAAS invited historian Nayan Shah, associate professor at University of California-San Diego, to present his new book entitled, Stranger Intimacy, which explores intimacies between global migrants and examines the intersections between capitalism, U.S. and Canada’s treatment of immigrants, sexual citizenship and race in the early 20th century. The event was made possible with support from the Gender and Sexuality Center, Institute for Historical Studies, and the South Asia Institute. View photos of the packed event and read the Daily Texan report of the talk.

“Hypin’ the Hep: Asian American Boobs on YouTube,” talk by Dr. Darrell Hamamoto

With support from the Department of Radio-Television-Film, CAAS organized a public lecture by Darrell Hamamoto, professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California-Davis. In his talk Professor Hamamoto discussed the racial politics surrounding the emergence of Asian American youth as YouTube celebrities and problematized their incorporation as "ethnic" comedic figures by the military-medical-industrial complex in the contemporary US. Click here to view photos from the event.

Read-in Againist the Banning of Ethnic Studies Books  Read-in at West Mall

On February 29, 2012 educators in Arizona organized a national “read-in” of ethnic studies books that have been banned by the Tucson, Arizona Unified School District for use in K-12 classrooms. CAAS, along with several other groups on campus, joined this national protest by organizing UT-Austin’s read-in event. Members of the UT community gathered at West Mall on February 29 to read passages from the list of banned books by authors such as Paulo Freire, Henry David Thoreau, Ronald Takaki and many more. To learn more about the event read The Daily Texan report and the full press release of the read-in and list of informative links about what’s happening with ethnic studies in Tucson, AZ.

CAIR billboard Executive Director of The Council of American-Islamic Relations Houston Visits AAS Class

This spring semester, CAAS was pleased to welcome Mustafa Carroll, Executive Director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations Houston.  Mr. Carroll visited campus to lecture to students in the Asian American Studies class, Muslims in America: Community, Nation, Representation, taught by Professor Alisa Perkins, a teaching affiliate at CAAS and PhD candidate in Anthropology. The lecture was opened up to the entire UT campus for the occasion.  Mr. Carroll’s visit was hosted by the Center for Asian American Studies in conjunction with the College of Liberal ArtsRead about his visit here.

GraduAsian 2012  GraduAsian 2012 Graduate Photo

This May, the Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective, Texas Exes Asian Alumni Network, and the Center for Asian American Studies jointly hosted GraduAsian 2012. GraduAsian commemorates the many achievements of UT-Austin's graduating Asian/Asian American students with family and friends, in conjunction with the traditional Commencement, to honor the long tradition of cultural awareness at The University of Texas at Austin. CAAS congratulates the following Asian American Studies graduates of May 2012: Mariel Agtual, Michelle Davis, Jamie Helton, Nathan Kwiatkowski, Stella Lillie, and Amy Rattananinad. View photos from GraduAsian 2012. (Photo copyright Quit Nguyen)

Community News

Ali Khataw with Prof. Amber Abbas at Oral History ReceptionCelebrate South Asian American History in Austin

The Austin History Center hosted a special reception in mid-April to highlight the history of South Asian Americans in Austin. The reception featured the accomplishments of  students in the Asian American Studies class South Asian Migration to the U.S. taught by Professor Amber Abbas. The class conducted oral history interviews as part of the students’ final projects. Many of the oral history recordings and transcripts of Austin South Asian Americans will be preserved at the Austin History Center and through the South Asian American Digital Archive. Read more about the AAS class and oral history assignment. (Photo copyright Yvonne Lim Wilson,

Demographic Report on Asians in Texas

CAAS compiled a report “Contribution of Asian Businesses and Asian Citizens to the Economy of Texas” drawing upon 2009 census data on behalf of the Texas Federation of Asian American Chambers of Commerce.  Some surprising findings include the fact that Asian Pacific Americans comprise over 20 percent of the population of suburban Houston.  Download the full report from CAAS’s website.

Asian American Community Leadership Awards, UT-Austin  President Powers, Dr. Madeline Hsu, Dr. Foo Swasdee, and Dr. Vincent

The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement in partnership with the Texas Exes Asian Alumni Network and CAAS, held an awards ceremony on April 30 honoring individuals and organizations that have contributed to building stronger communities and forging new paths for Asian and Asian Americans in Texas. This year’s honorees include: Texas Asian Chamber of Commerce, Tommy Hodinh, Foo Swasdee, and David Chiu received the legacy award. Read more about the event and the honorees here. (Photo copyright Yvonne Lim Wilson,

People at CAAS

Honorable Martha WongThe Honorable Martha Wong Funds Endowment for Student Scholarships

CAAS is excited to announce that the Dr. Martha Wong has graciously started an endowment for CAAS to fund student scholarships. Martha’s pledge of $50,000 will ensure CAAS’s existence at UT-Austin despite budget cuts. Dr. Wong says about her gift, I wanted to give back to the University of Texas, where I learned so many things and met many great friends.  I gave to the Center for Asian American Studies because I believe that more research needs to be conducted about Asian Americans in the South and the Center is so important to record Asian American contributions and history.  I have fought for this Center in so many different ways and want to ensure its continuance! For information on how to support CAAS, please visit our giving page.

CAAS 2012 Scholarship Recipients  Director Madeline Hsu with Kye-Hyoung Lee, graduate student research awardee

CAAS provides scholastic awards for exceptional students who have furthered the promotion of research, service, and academic involvement, which is imperative for the growth of Asian American Studies. This year CAAS awarded graduate students Kye-Hyoung Lee and Yishan Shen $400 awards for graduate research, undergraduate student Tu-Uyen Nguyen $300 award for undergraduate research, and the Indian Student Associate a $400 award for undergraduate student organizational excellence award. Read more about the scholarships and the recipients’ research. (Photo copyright Quit Nguyen)

Dr. Sharmila Rudrappa's Article Featured in Contexts

Sharmila Rudrappa's article "India's Reproductive Assembly Line" is featured on the cover of Contexts, a quarterly magazine that makes sociology interesting and relevant to anyone interested in how society operates. It is a publication of the American Sociological Association. Read the full article here. Rudrappa is associate professor of sociology and Asian American studies. Part of her research was funded by the Center for Asian American Studies.

Dr. Julia Lee Receives the Raymond Dickson Teaching Fellowship

The College of Liberal Arts at UT-Austin has awarded five professors with the Raymond Dickson Centennial Endowed Teaching Fellowship, an honor that recognizes excellence in teaching and commitment. CAAS congratulates Julia Lee, assistant professor of English and Asian American Studies.

Dr. Snehal Shingavi Receives RAISE Faculty Award  RAISE Awards

The RAISE Excellence Awards is hosted annually by the Asian/Asian American Faculty and Staff Association and the Asian Desi Pacific American student group to celebrate excellence in the Asian/Asian American community at UT-Austin. This year, CAAS core faculty Snehal Shingavi received the award for his tremendous success in balancing his academic research and teaching with social justice activism. Shingavi is an assistant  professor in English and Asian American Studies.

Dr. Madeline Hsu Receives Honorable Mention for Edited Book

The Association for Asian American Studies has awarded honorable mention to an anthology, Chinese American Transnational Politics, by Him Mark Lai (University of Illinois Press, 2010), which Professor Hsu edited and introduced.

Teaching Affiliate Appointed Faculty Position at St. Joseph’s University

Amber Abbas, CAAS teaching affiliate and graduate of UT-Austin’s PhD history program, is moving to Philadelphia this summer to start her new position as assistant professor in history at St. Joseph’s University this fall. Abbas taught the Asian American Studies class, South Asian Migration to the U.S., in fall 2011 and will continue to develop her work with the South Asian American Digital Archive and other Asian American faculty in the Philadelphia area.

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.

Upcoming Events

Why Asian American Studies Matters Now?
3:30 pm/ Sep 6, 2012
Avaya Auditorium (ACE 2.302)



Support CAAS by making an online gift donation today. Donations are used to support programming, education, and outreach efforts.

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