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New Directions in A/P/A Studies: An NYU Grad Student Showcase

Organizer: A/P/A Institute at NYU
New York, NY United States
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Add to Calendar 11/09/2021 04:00 PM 11/09/2021 05:30 PM America/New_York New Directions in A/P/A Studies: An NYU Grad Student Showcase More detail: https://apa.nyu.edu/event/new-directions-in-a-p-a-studies-an-nyu-grad-student-showcase/ , New York, NY

Co-presented by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU and the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program in the NYU Department of Social & Cultural Analysis.


As we reflect on the moment, twenty-five years ago, when a group of passionate and dedicated students organized and agitated for the establishment of an Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute at NYU, we are reminded again of the critical need for A/P/A Studies now and always. To highlight recent developments in the field and new directions in scholarship, we are thrilled to host current NYU graduate students to present on their masters theses and dissertations-in-progress.

This showcase will bring into conversation Puanani Brown (MA candidate, NYU Food Studies), Weiyu Dang (PhD candidate, NYU American Studies), Cindy Gao (PhD candidate, NYU American Studies), Linda Luu (PhD candidate, NYU American Studies), Chloe Truong-Jones (PhD candidate, NYU American Studies), and Mariko Whitenack (PhD candidate, NYU American Studies).

Following brief presentations from the students, professors Aimee Bahng (Pomona College), Candace Fujikane (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa), and Mimi Thi Nguyen (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) offer comments and S. Heijin Lee (NYU Department of Social & Cultural Analysis) moderates a discussion.

Accessibility note: This event will be hosted virtually on Zoom. A Zoom account, internet access, and a smartphone or computer is required. Closed captioning will be provided for all audio. If you have any access needs, please email apa.rsvp@nyu.edu as soon as possible.


Headshot of Puanani BroPuanani Apoliona-Brown is a second year MA student in Food Studies at NYU and the Director of Operations and Strategic Relations at Real Food Generation. The daughter of a Native Hawaiian rights activist and an environmental lawyer, Apoliona-Brown’s interest in Food Studies is closely tied to Indigenous rights and environmental justice. After dancing professionally with American Ballet Theatre, Apoliona-Brown completed her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy at Harvard University. She became interested in Indigenous food sovereignty while studying abroad with the School for International Training. Traveling from California to Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia, she was struck by the vulnerable position of subsistence farming communities whose ancestral lands and traditional practices are threatened by powerful corporate interests. These issues resonated with her because of her familiarity with similar challenges in Hawai‘i, which inspired her senior thesis on Native Hawaiian food sovereignty and water rights. Apoliona-Brown’s thesis won the 2018 Thesis Prize in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights at Harvard University.


Weiyu Dang Headshot

Weiyu Dang is a second year PhD student in American Studies at NYU. His main research question is how the category of the alien works as a race-making device in the construction of North American immigration law, border history, and cultural production. His work draws from critical migration studies, critical Indigenous studies, transpacific studies, critical ethnic studies, and critiques of liberal humanism. He is also interested in how the influence of global liberalism and capitalism affects modern Chinese geopolitics and government with a focus on the Northwest. He holds a BA in English and History and an MA in East Asian Studies from McGill University. His work is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship.



Photo of Cindy Gao in front of a car with a license plate that says "READMARX"

Cynthia Yuan Gao is a PhD Candidate in American Studies in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. Her dissertation concerns the influence of Revolutionary Asia on radical movements in the United States from the 1960s to the end of the Cold War. The dissertation examines three radical groups—the socialist feminist Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, the Hawaiian land rights group Kokua Hawai’i, and the Third Worldist Marxist-Leninist League of Revolutionary Struggle—in order to track how the shifting signpost of Asia as revolutionary vanguard indexed political questions of theory, strategy, and historical conjuncture. She received her BA in Comparative Ethnic Studies from Columbia University in 2012.




Headhsot of Linda LuuLinda Luu is a PhD student in American Studies at NYU. Their research looks at the shifting relationships between U.S. psychology, militarism, and liberal humanism in the period of the Cold War, focusing on how ideas regarding Asian/American psyches figured into U.S. empire-building. Luu received their BA in Sociology from Hunter College.







Photo of Chloe Truong Jones holding a rabbit

Chloe Truong-Jones is a PhD candidate in American Studies at NYU. 









Photo of Mariko Whitenack in front of a waterfall

Mariko Chin Whitenack is a third year American Studies PhD student at NYU (Lenapehoking). Her research examines the early twentieth-century reforestation of Hawaiian watersheds by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association (HSPA) to understand how sustainability discourses and practices rearticulate and enact settler colonial capitalism and racial hierarchies on and through land. She is a former steward and member of the bargaining committee for GSOC, NYU’s graduate student union.







Aimee Bahng is an associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Pomona College. Her book, Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times (Duke University Press, 2018; SFTS Book Prize 2018), examines narrations of futurity across various platforms, from speculative fiction by writers of color to the financial speculations of the 1%. A member of the Keywords Feminist Editorial Collective, she co-edited the Keywords for Gender and Sexuality Studies (forthcoming NYU Press, November 2021), co-authoring the Introduction and the entry on “Race.” She has also co-edited with Christine Mok a special issue of Journal of Asian American Studies on Transpacific Futurities (20: 1, February 2017). Her current teaching and research interests focus on the conjuncture of critical environmental justice, US imperialism in the Pacific, and queer-feminist science and technology studies. Her second monograph, tentatively titled “Settler Environmentalism and the Gentrification of the Sea,” is currently underway. 

Candace Fujikane is professor of English at the University of Hawaiʻi. They co-edited with Jonathan Okamura Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawaiʻi (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2008), and are the author of Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawaiʻi (Duke University Press, 2021). They have written on land struggles in Hawaiʻi, Kanaka Maoli moʻolelo (storied histories), ancestral knowledges and climate change, the capaciousness of the term “settler ally,” and aloha ʻāina work in restoration projects across Hawaiʻi. They have stood for lands and waters in Hawaiʻi for over twenty years, testifying before occupying/settler state agencies and on the frontlines. Their writing and research engages synchronic sets of settler aloha ʻāina practices: those that challenge the US occupying/settler state, and those that enact an independent Hawaiʻi beyond. 

Mimi Thi Nguyen is associate professor and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her first book is The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages (Duke University Press, 2012; Outstanding Book Award in Cultural Studies from the Association of Asian American Studies, 2014). She is also co-editor with Fiona I.B. Ngo and Mariam Lam of a special issue of positions: asia critique on Southeast Asian American Studies (20:3, Winter 2012), and co-editor with Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu of Alien Encounters: Pop Culture in Asian America (Duke University Press, 2007). Her following project is called The Promise of Beauty. She has also been published in Signs, Camera Obscura, Women & Performance, Radical History Review, and ArtForum, among others. In June 2013, Sarah McCarry’s Guillotine (“a series of erratically published chapbooks focused on revolutionary non-fiction”) released PUNK, a conversation between Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour.