Asian American studies

Asian American Studies is an academic discipline which critically examines the history, issues, sociology, religion, experiences, culture, and policies relevant to Asian Americans. It is closely related to other Ethnic Studies disciplines, such as African American Studies, Latino Studies, and Native American Studies.


Asian American Studies appeared as a field of intellectual inquiry in the late 1960s[1] as a result of strikes by the Third World Liberation Front, a group of ethnic minority students at San Francisco State University and at the University of California, Berkeley. The students demanded that college classroom instruction include the histories of people of color in the United States, told from their perspectives. The demand for Ethnic Studies was originally a reaction against the Eurocentric bias in university curricula.[2][3]

As a result of the 1968 strike, a College of Ethnic Studies (the only U.S. university academic department of its kind at the time) was established at San Francisco State University with American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Africana Studies, and Latino/a Studies as its four units, and a new Department of Ethnic Studies was established at the University of California, Berkeley, consisting of comparative ethnic studies, Asian American and Asian diaspora studies, Chicana/o and Latina/o studies, and Native American studies.[4]

The demand for Asian American Studies resulted in the creation of new departments throughout the country since the 1970s. By 1979, the Association for Asian American Studies, a professional organization designed to promote teaching and research in the field, was established in 1979.[5] Then in 1991, twenty-three college and universities formed an “East of California” caucus of the Association for Asian American Studies, to move away from a California-centered understanding of the field, to speak of the many origins and points of departure in the history of Asian American Studies, and to include research on less-studied communities like Filipino Americans and South Asian Americans into the field.[6]


Drawing from numerous disciplines such as sociology, history, literature, political science, and gender studies, Asian American Studies scholars consider a variety of perspectives and employ diverse analytical tools in their work.[4] Unlike Asian Studies which focuses on the history, culture, religion, etc. of Asian people living in Asia, Asian American Studies is interested in the history, culture, experiences, of Asians living in the United States.

Academic programs in Asian American Studies examines the history of Asian-Americans, which includes topics such as immigration and race-based exclusion policies. The discourse also includes studies on how first- and second-generation Asian Americans deal with adjustment and assimilation, especially on their Americanization and aggressive pursuit of higher education and prestigious occupations in a society that still discriminates against them.[7]

Asian American Studies focuses on the identities, historical and contemporary experiences of individuals and groups in the United States. Concepts and issues that are crucial to this interdisciplinary curriculum include: Orientalism, diaspora and transnationalism, gender and sexuality, cultural politics, and media representation.[8][9]

Universities and colleges with departments and programs

Prominent academics

Celebrities who studied Asian American Studies


  1. Shirley Hune. "Expanding the International Dimension of Asian American Studies". Amerasia Journal, Vol. 15 No. 2 (1989), pp.xix
  2. Fiel, Crystal (March 8, 2009). "Celebration 40 Years: Third World Liberation Front". {m}aganda Magazine. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  3. Wei, William (2010). The Asian American Movement. Temple University Press. pp. 106–108. ISBN 978-1-4399-0374-2.
  4. Choy, Catherine Ceniza (2 August 2022). Asian American Histories of the United States. Beacon Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-8070-5079-8.
  5. "About AAAS". Association for Asian American Studies. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  6. Lee, Erika (2009). "Asian American Studies in the Midwest: New Questions, Approaches, and Communities". Journal of Asian American Studies. 12 (3): 247–273. doi:10.1353/jaas.0.0045. ISSN 1096-8598. S2CID 144774628.
  7. Wang, L. Ling-Chi (1981). "Asian American Studies". American Quarterly. 33 (3): 339–354. doi:10.2307/2712470. JSTOR 2712470. S2CID 147370170.
  8. Cheng, Cindy I.-Fen, ed. (2016). The Routledge Handbook of Asian American Studies. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-81391-0.
  9. Wu, Jean Yu-Wen Shen; Chen, Thomas, eds. (2010). Asian American Studies Now: A Critical Reader. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-4933-0.
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