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In Defense of Asian American Studies

The Politics of Teaching and Program Building

Insights from the vanguard of academic program building

In Defense of Asian American Studies amounts to tales from the trenches on the origins and evolution of the field of Asian American studies, as told by one of its founders and most highly regarded scholars. With great intellectual energy, critical acumen, and a sly sense of humor, Sucheng Chan discusses her experiences on three campuses within the University of California system where Asian American studies was first developed--in response to vehement student demand--under the rubric of ethnic studies.

Chan speaks by turns as an advocate and an administrator striving to secure a place for Asian American studies; as a teacher working to give Asian American students a voice and white students a perspective on race and racism; and as a scholar and researcher still asking her own questions. The essays span three decades, closing with a piece on new challenges that face Asian American studies. Eloquently documenting a field of endeavor in which scholarship and identity define and strengthen each other, this volume combines analysis, personal experience, and practical advice indispensable to those engaged in building and sustaining programs in Asian American studies.


"Newcomers to the field will gain a rich understanding of the origins and mission of AAS and the challenges it faced and continues to face as it becomes institutionalized in higher education."--Journal of Higher Education


Sucheng Chan is a professor emerita of Asian American studies and global studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author or editor of fourteen books, the most recent of which is Survivors: Cambodian Refugees in the United States.

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