Asian American Contemporary Issues

This course explores contemporary issues facing Asian Americans and how these topics intersect with ethnicity, race, class, gender, and culture. Aside from looking at longstanding Asian American communities, this class also focuses on the movements of people from the Asia Pacific since 1965. We utilize national, international and transnational frameworks to discuss their immigration and resettlement experiences.

*Depending on current events, class also has special theme(s). This was the case in Spring 2012 when we explored closely “social movements” and connected this history to current events affecting students at UC Davis, including the “pepper spray” incident and the “99% – Occupy” movement.

Asian Diasporas

The last century has had more movements of peoples across lands and national borders than in any previous centuries. Global forces, including technological advances in travel and communication, facilitates the rapid flows of people, cultures, and currencies globally. These flows have spawned new diasporic communities and interesting transnational practices. This course explores diverse Asian diasporic communities and the experiences of its members in the United States and internationally. Themes of inquiry include: community building, cyberspace, gender issues, migratory labor, transnational practices, effects of globalization, political organizing, homeland politics, intra-ethnic strife, humanitarian projects, citizenship, and nationalism.

Asian and Asian American Fashion

Clothing is a very visible and integral part of our daily lives. It allows for self-expression in ways that are globally diverse. Additionally, garments continue to be a multi-billion dollar international industry with individuals working on all levels – from designing couture to working in sweatshops. This course focuses on the historical, cultural, and sociopolitical development of fashion in Asia and the Asian Diasporic communities in the United States. We explore issues through specific aspects of material culture – textiles, clothing, and fashion; plus art, including – collecting, institutionalization, and manufacturing. Overarching themes include: gender, orientalism, globalism, transnationalism, nationalism, capitalism, consumerism, identity formation, periodization, urbanization, commodification, commercialization, internationalization, (re)appropriation, mimicking, performing, trend-making, and aesthetics.

*Special component includes a class field trip to observe and write about a fashion related event. For instance, one quarter, the class visited the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco for their “Shanghai” exhibit.

Vietnamese and Vietnamese American Women Experiences

This course critically looks at the historical and contemporary social, political, cultural and economic experiences of Vietnamese women in Viet Nam and in the diaspora. We examine the representation of Vietnamese woman in historical texts, literature, legends, folklore, political rhetoric, policies, and popular cultural productions. We also study the construction of Vietnamese womanhood in the institutions of family, state, and society and how women conform and resist such categorizations and definitions of themselves. We analyze how the home as well as how larger socio-political forces such as colonialism, imperialism, militarization and dislocation shaped women’s lives. In addition, we look at how female groups such as the refugees, immigrants, war brides, international brides, international students, laborers, sex workers, leaders, writers, politicians, professionals, Amerasians, and adoptees negotiate their participation in or resistance to the family, labor force, society, and government.

Multiracial Asian American Experiences: Race Traitors

Even after our first “black” president ushered in a so­called “post racial America,” we understood that there is much more to the race issue than what has been presented. Using the theme of Race Traitors, this quarter’s Mixed Race Experiences course serves to complicate and even question the meaning, importance, and value of race constructions. Why have those in interracial unions and their offsprings been targets of oppression, cooptation, and even veneration in the Americas and globally? How have these same groups also threatened and challenged race categorizations? There will be no midterm or final but instead students will participate in the process of curating and creating an art exhibit.

ASA 115: Race Traitor Strikes Back Online Catalogue

Class videos (stuff students made)

Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos: A Critical Survey of Migration, Resettlement, and Transnational Experiences

Indochina composing of Laos, Cambodia, and Viet Nam was a colonial construction that brought together peoples from different cultures but connected through history of struggles. In modern times, the so-called “Viet Nam War” further bound the three countries, this time, as pawns in the Cold War, and subsequently linked them as a unit consisting of refugees and immigrants in the United States. This class starts from a critical point of understanding that individuals and communities from these countries represent complex and diverse populations. They view their experiences very differently and sometimes uniquely. Their connection to the Viet Nam War and the aftermath also varies adding to the complexities of representation and identity formation in the United States and desire to reconnect with their home countries. This class explores themes such as: war, migration, resettlement, deportation, gender, health, politics, youth, occupation, sexuality, and family.

Add videos

National Aesthetics

National Aesthetics argues that one way to create a prosperous nation is to have a clear image or branding of the nation that the government and people support, then have this image tied directly to a national production or industry to create exports that reflect this new national identity. This theory targets developing countries or countries in dire need of an image change internationally. For this course, we will examine the challenges and successes of development through the lens National Aesthetics and its counterparts by reviewing classical historical models of nation-building projects such as: France in the last 19th century; Denmark during and post WWII; Japan post WWII; Botswana and Costa Rica starting in the 1980s, and even more modern manifestations such as seen in South Korea in the 1990s, and China in the new millennium. We will also focus on Viet Nam as a contemporary case study to determine its possible National Aesthetics. For this course we will not have a midterm and final, but rather students will work in teams on creating a startup business proposal to pitch to “investors”.

Spirit Realm

Spirit Realm is mostly tied to the belief that our world is shared with forces and energies we cannot readily identify or explain but may have access to for answers. Spirit Realm Studies engages in the growing recognition of indigenous practices (particularly from Asia) to understand and address the complex and challenging issues in our known realm and beyond. Our class specifically looks at the Spirit Realm and the Medical Fields (physical and mental). One form of Spirit Realm practices seeks to break away from what is considered normal healing to look at alternative options that are not commonly discussed in academic settings nor acknowledged in health services. We ask why have these indigenous beliefs been kept out of academia and mostly ostracized in the medical fields. Aside from presenting indigenous understandings, we also introduce how science have come to study and interpret the spirit realm. In lieu of a midterm and final, the course will have a major research and creative project, Spirit in a Box.

Add images or projects