Center for Asian American Studies
Center for Asian American Studies

Sam Vong

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., 2013, Yale University

Sam Vong



AAS 312 • Intro To Asian American Hist

35810 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm UTC 1.144
(also listed as HIS 317L)

This class introduces key themes in Asian American history by exploring the crucial roles Asian have played in framing American ideas and institutions regarding citizenship, national belonging, border control, and multiracial democracy.  Seen as inassimilable aliens and essentially foreign, Asians were the first targets of legal immigration restrictions and enforcement.  Asian Americans persevered in continuing migration to establish communities and forge ethnic identities and cultures by claiming the promise  of equality in America.  We will consider variations on Asian American history and culture through memoirs, legal documents, cultural productions, media representations, and reinterpretations of mainstream tropes of American identity.


Shelley Sang-Hee Lee, A New History of Asian America (Routledge, 2013)

AAS 325 • Refugees In 20th-Century Us

35833 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 930am-1100am BEN 1.108
(also listed as HIS 350R)

This course explores the history of refugees in the twentieth century, with special attention to the U.S. and its engagement in the international arena of refugee politics. The course asks what historical and contemporary roles have refugees played during times of peace and conflict in the twentieth century? Students will examine how states, non-governmental organizations, private charities, and local communities have come together to address the questions of asylum, displacement, statelessness, and human rights. Students will study the causes of particular refugee movements and the reasons why the United States responded to or failed to respond to certain refugee cases. The course will introduce students to how the "problem" of refugees has been framed by, among others, historians and social scientists, policymakers, NGOs, local communities, social workers, and refugees themselves. In doing so, this course will explore how particular cases of refugees have shaped U.S. domestic policies and also the development of the United States and its role in international affairs.


1.         Eric Tang, Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the New York City Hyperghetto

2.         Samantha Power, "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide

3.         Peter Gatrell, The Making of the Modern Refugee


Midterm 25%

Final 25%

Group project 25%

Final paper 25%


AAS 325 • Hist Se Asian Diasp In Us

35117 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CLA 0.120
(also listed as HIS 365G)

Which groups comprise the Southeast Asian diaspora in the United States? How has labor migration, war, and imperialism historically shaped the formation of various Southeast Asian communities in the U.S.? How does the history of a Southeast Asian diaspora in the U.S. complicate the idea of Asian America as a social project and a political critique?

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the history of Southeast Asians in the United States. Chronologically, the course will begin in 1898, with the history of U.S. empire in the Philippines, and the course will end with a discussion of the recent migration of refugees from Myanmar in Texas. By the end of the course, students will be able to identify important dates and events that have shaped Southeast Asian diasporas in the U.S. Students will also be able to define and discuss the following core concepts of the course: racial formation and racism; war and militarization; labor and class; gender; ethnicity; diaspora; and citizenship. 

This course carries the flag for Cultural Diversity in the United States. Cultural Diversity courses are designed to increase your familiarity with the variety and richness of the American cultural experience. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one U.S. cultural group that has experienced persistent marginalization.



Bich Minh Nguyen, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir (New York: Penguin Books, 2007).

Lynn Fujiwara, Mothers without Citizenship: Asian Immigrant Families and the Consequences of Welfare Reform (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

George Herring, America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996 [1979].


Attendance & participation                10%

First paper (4-page essay)                  15%

Midterm Exam                                    25%

Second paper (8-page essay)              25%

Final Exam                                          25%

AAS 312 • Intro To Asian American Hist

34949 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm JGB 2.218
(also listed as HIS 317L)

Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

This course introduces students to the histories of people of Asian descent in the United States, from the late eighteenth century to the present. It examines the migration and settlement of Asian peoples, their inclusion into and exclusion from the nation-state, and their experiences of race and racism. This course places particular emphasis on understanding Asian American history and its key themes within global and transnational contexts. These themes include: Orientalism; citizenship and national belonging; labor and class; comparative racial formation; anti-Asian movements; gender and sexuality; community formation; and political activism. Through engagement with historical writings, films, literature, and primary sources, students will learn to ask informed questions, including the following: what and who constitutes Asian America? Who counts as Asian American? How has the notion of "Asians" transformed over time in American culture and history? How can we re-write the history of Asian America to account for the arrival of new "Asian" groups to the United States, the formation of new political identities and solidarities across borders and nations, and the emergence of new technologies and multimedia? 

Tentative Reading List:

Sucheng Chan, Asian Americans: An Interpretive History (Twayne, 1991)

Daryl Maeda, Chains of Babylon: The Rise of Asian America (Minnesota, 2009)

Coursepack readings


Assignments and Grade Breakdown:

25%     Class participation and attendance

25%     Midterm exam

25%     Final exam

25%     Written essay on community-based project

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