Studies in Asian American Culture
Growing up Asian American: The Asian Immigrant Family and the Second Generation
Vietnamese American Studies
Asian Americans in Film
Asian American Mental Health
Women of Color Feminisms and Solidarities
What is Religion?
Buddhism in the U.S.: Race, Religion, and American Identity
A pedagogy of unwellness
I am an adjunct professor of Asian American studies. I teach in other fields as well--religious studies, gender/feminist/women's studies, disability studies--but I think of myself first and foremost as an Asian Americanist. And as contingent.
This puts me on the periphery of the university multiple times over.
I open every course by reading together, out-loud, Lisa Park’s “Letter to My Sister,” a letter written to a sister who had committed suicide. A haunting, gut-wrenching indictment of processes of model minoritization in American society, manifest in her own family, for their part in causing her sister’s suicide. A recounting, a demand for witness, of the “crimes” against her sister, and what it looks like to be both victim and accomplice to the deathtrap of racialization in the U.S. This is the structure of my pedagogy. These are the stakes.
This is why Asian American studies matters. And this is why I teach.
Over the last 6 years, I have worked to develop a pedagogy of unwellness: a pedagogy that starts with the radical recognition that we are all differentially unwell--including my students, including me. I not only teach about unwellness--mental health, race+racism, structural violence--I teach with the assumption that we are all shaped by structural unwellness and that the purpose of the classroom space is to learn the contours of that unwellness and discover how to live through it.
I ask students to invest deeply in this project. And I do that by investing deeply in them--as whole people.
This is a disability studies/rights + ethnic studies + queer-feminist pedagogy.
It is also a pedagogy of contingency. I teach in these ways as an adjunct, off the tenure-track so that I am not constrained by narrow ideas of what counts as merit and productivity. I center students in my teaching in a way that is neither encouraged nor rewarded on the tenure track. I blend research + arts + pedagogy in ways illegible to many in the university. I retain a foot outside of the university, a scholar-teacher-writer fully invested in the academic project but intentionally cultivating a nimbleness to move within, adjacent to, and even against the university. But at great cost. Structural vulnerability has me living through the very unwellness I teach about.
I currently teach part-time, with no university to really call home. I learned recently that sometimes the cost of teaching people how to live is that we die. But our students deserve no less.