24 Best Gifts for Frequent Travelers

A People’s Guide to Los Angeles made the New York Times/Wirecutter’s 2020 list of best gifts for travelers. When we travel, most of us are guilty of being at least somewhat unaware—of ourselves, of our hosts, of cultural traditions in the areas we’re visiting. But traveling also gives us the best opportunity to confront these … More

Against Empire: Taiwan, American Studies, and the Archipelagic

Chih-ming Wang and I coedited a timely forum, “Against Empire: Taiwan, American Studies, and the Archipelagic,” published in the current issue of American Quarterly. I thank the authors – Wen Liu, Anita Chang, Funie Hsu, Yukari Yoshihara, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, and Leo Tsu-shin Ching – for their thoughtful and generative essays. I hope that this forum continues to open the door for more critical scholarship … More

The Bold and Unruly Legacy of Chen Wen-Chen

July 2, 2021 Article published in New Bloom Magazine IT WAS THE summer of 1975. The two young Taiwanese men, Rocky Tsao (曹永愷) and Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), met again in Ann Arbor, Michigan at a Taiwanese Association social gathering. Like most Taiwanese in the U.S. at the time, they were graduate students—Chen in statistics and Tsao … More

The Global, Imperial, and Capitalist Roots of ‘Anti-Asian Hate’

Published June 2021 in episteme issue 6: in the wake of the atlanta shooting: non/citizen perspectives on anti-asian racism and sinophobia at To begin, I want to acknowledge the current grief, anger, and fear of Asian and Asian American communities here in the United States, where I am located. From March 2020 through March … More

In Rancho Santa Fe, We Were Orientals

June 10, 2021. Creative nonfiction essay published in Boom California. In 1986, when I was nine and my brother was ten, my parents moved us to a place I have never claimed; a place that has never claimed me. Rancho Santa Fe, California: former land of the Santa Fe Railroad, whose twisted experiments created 100-foot … More

The Instant You Entered the Black Hole

June 2021 Creative nonfiction essay published in The Cincinnati Review Teh-chang came home a couple of days after the surgery, wheeled out of the hospital with a cotton bandage wrapped around his head cartoon-style and, even stranger-looking, a white mesh Styrofoam netting gathered into a point on top of that, which made him resemble a … More

Descanso Gardens honors Japanese Americans during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Good Day LA interviewed me, Japanese American family members, and Descanso Gardens staff about my research and our collective efforts to change how Descanso presents and understands its history in relationship to Internment and the transformative contributions of Japanese American horticulturalists and flower growers to Southern California. Much respect and appreciation to the family of … More

Past Due: LA Civic Memory Working Group Report and Recommendations

“We understand L.A. in the present as a multicultural city, but the dominant narrative of L.A. history is still a blank slate, as a city with no history. And I think the violence of that as a settler-colonial narrative, as a white settler-colonial narrative—one that erases Mexican and Indigenous histories, spaces, and communities—still has yet … More

Taiwanese/American Migration and Cold War Politics

This book project will be the first monograph on the political lives of Taiwanese migrants who came to the United States as students during the late Cold War (1960s through 1980s). It fills a significant lacuna in Asian American historiography and offers an extensive social and political analysis of a group and set of experiences … More

Landscapes of Beauty and Plunder

Systematic plunder – of land, natural resources, labor, bodies, and minds – is central to colonial and global capitalist regimes and has become increasingly important to understanding U. S. national history. In this research project, I examine how racialized plunder has been naturalized in California’s everyday landscapes and reverberates through family and institutional histories. How … More


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