Asian American studies reading group connects students, faculty across departments

Written by
Sonya Chen, Department of Sociology; Alexander Jin, Department of History; Darren Yau, Department of Religion
Aug. 31, 2021

Over the past year, graduate students and faculty have met monthly on Zoom for the Asian American Studies Faculty-Graduate Reading Group to discuss works in Asian American studies. The group has engaged with texts ranging from academic scholarship such as Princeton professor Anne Cheng’s Ornamentalism and Lisa Lowe’s Immigrant Acts, to popular fiction like Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown.

The group was started in 2020 by Alex Jin (History, G3), Sonya Chen (Politics, G4), and Darren Yau (Religion, G3), who sought to create a space for bringing together graduate students and professors interested in Asian American studies who otherwise would have been spread out across departments. The conversations have been lively and generative, including critical engagement with texts but also discussions about the state of Asian American studies as a discipline, political organizing and solidarity, and the academic profession. In August, the group held its first graduate student workshop, where students met to share and discuss their own research-in-progress.

When asked to reflect on the group, Rikio Inouye, a second-year Ph.D. student in the politics department, said: “This reading group has been a wonderful space, not only because of the stimulating intellectual discussions but because of the way participants bring their identity and experiences into such discussions. In effect, it is a place where I feel I am understood in my complexity as an Asian American, and where I can connect with others as we navigate this aspect of our identity in our professional, intellectual and interpersonal circles.”

Being on Zoom has allowed the group to broaden its community beyond Princeton, with regular participants from other academic institutions and non-academic positions. The group will continue on as an online and in-person hybrid in the new school year. Please contact Alex Jin (ajin2@princeton.edu) to join the email list. All are welcome!

This group is funded by the Program in American Studies and the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities.