Adrian De Leon

Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity
Adrian De Leon

Research & Practice Areas

Filipino Studies, Asian American History, Indigenous Asias, Settler Colonialism, Visual Culture, Racial Capitalism, Creative Writing


Adrian De Leon is an award-winning public historian and writer at the University of Southern California, where he is an Assistant Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity. At USC, he serves on the steering committee of the Center for Transpacific Studies, and holds affiliations in several other initiatives across campus. Through a multi-sited archival and ethnographic analysis of the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora, De Leon studies the relationship between indigeneity, settler colonialism, and resource extraction.

Bundok: A Hinterland History of Filipino America, his first academic book, is forthcoming in Fall 2023 with the University of North Carolina Press. Using archival research in the Philippines, Hawai‘i, North America, and Spain, Bundok follows the co-constitution of Philippine indigeneity and Filipino migrant labor through the racial archives of 19th-century plantation capitalism in Luzon’s northern hinterlands.

He is currently working on two academic books. Balikbayan: The Invention of the Filipino Homeland (under contract with the University of Washington Press) examines the continuation of American colonial conquest into the formation of non-elite and non-metropolitan Filipinos across the Pacific, and how they imagined becoming subjects of an independent nation yet-to-come. A chapter of Balikbayan, a visual biography of the photographer and labor contractor Frank Mancao, was published in the Journal of American Ethnic History, and received the 2023 Carlton C. Qualey Memorial Article Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.

Another book, After Homeland: A History of Interrupted Relations, theorizes contemporary return migrations through the author’s personal history. It brings contemporary articulations of the “homeland” under scrutiny, between the Philippines and other global contexts, and shows how nation-states manufacture and harness the nostalgia of diasporas to fortify their economies, and legitimize their claims to stolen land.

Adrian De Leon’s first poetry collection, Rouge, was published by Mawenzi House in 2018. With fellow Scarborough-based writers Téa Mutonji (Shut Up, You’re Pretty, April 2019) and Natasha Ramoutar (Bittersweet, 2020), he is a co-editor of FEEL WAYS (2021), a pioneering anthology of emerging Scarborough writers. His second collection, barangay: an offshore poem (November 2021), was named among 2021’s best Canadian poetry books by the CBC. Currently, he is finishing his first novel, Fellow.

With Emmy award-winning journalist Dolly Li, Adrian De Leon is the co-creator and co-host of the PBS miniseries, A People’s History of Asian America (2021), which was a finalist for Best History Short Format at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers. Joining co-hosts Danielle Bainbridge (Northwestern University) and Dolly Li, his new show, Historian’s Take, will be streaming on PBS Origins.

De Leon’s research and commentary have appeared in venues such as: Los Angeles TimesNational GeographicThe ConversationVICEABC NightlineRolling Stone, and The Guardian. In 2022, he received the Engaged Scholar Award from the Association for Asian American Studies.

With Dorinne Kondo (American Studies & Ethnicity and Anthropology) and Jackie Wang (American Studies & Ethnicity), De Leon is a co-founder and co-convenor of the transdisciplinary research cluster, Creativity, Theory, Politics


  • Ph.D. History, University of Toronto, 5/2019
  • B.A. English, University of Toronto Scarborough, 6/2014
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Assistant Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California, 07/01/2019 –

    Visiting and Temporary Appointments

    • Jack and Nancy Farley Distinguished Visiting Scholar in History, Simon Fraser University, 2023-2024
    • Lecturer in English, University of Toronto Scarborough, 01/01/2019-04/30/2019
  • Book

    • De Leon, A.Balikbayan: The Invention of the Filipino Homeland. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press (under contract).
    • De Leon, A. (2023). Bundok: A Hinterland History of Filipino America. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press (under contract).
    • De Leon, Adrian and J.A. Ruanto-Ramirez (Ed.). Indigenous Asian Americas: On Diaspora and Decolonization (in progress).
    • De Leon, Adrian, Téa Mutonji, Natasha Ramoutar (Ed.). (2021). FEEL WAYS: A Scarborough Anthology. Toronto, ON: Mawenzi House.


    • De Leon, A. (2020). On Radiance. Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis.
    • De Leon, A. (2020). The long history of US racism against Asian Americans, from ‘yellow peril’ to ‘model minority’ to the ‘Chinese virus’. The Conversation.

    Journal Article

    • De Leon, A., Hong, J. (2023). Introduction: Conservatisms and Fascisms in Asian America. Amerasia Journal.
    • De Leon, A. (2022). Frank Mancao’s “Pinoy Image”: Photography, Masculinity, and Respectability in Depression-Era California. Journal of American Ethnic History.
    • De Leon, A. (2021). Transpacific Rizalistas: Portrait Photography and the Filipino Becoming-Subject. Trans Asia Photography.
    • De Leon, A. (2019). Sugarcane Sakadas: The Corporate Construction of the Filipino on a Hawai‘i Plantation. Amerasia Journal.
    • De Leon, A. (2018). Working the Kodak Zone: The Labor Relations of Race and Photography in the Philippine Cordilleras, 1887-1914. Radical History Review. Vol. 2018 (132)
    • De Leon, A., Bender, D. (2017). Everybody Was Boodle Fighting: Military Histories, Culinary Tourism, and Diasporic Dining. Food, Culture & Society. Vol. 21 (1), pp. 25-41.
    • De Leon, A. (2016). Siopao and Power: The Place of Pork Buns in Manila’s Chinese History. Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies. Vol. 16 (2), pp. 45-54.

    Poetry Collection

    • De Leon, A. (2021). barangay: an offshore poem. Buckrider Books.
    • De Leon, A. (2018). Rouge. Toronto. Mawenzi House.

    Short Story

    • De Leon, A. (2019). Sound Check. Joyland Magazine.
    • De Leon, A. (2019). The MFA Voice™. Invisible Publishing.


    • De Leon, Adrian and Jane Hong (Ed.). Conservatisms and Fascisms in Asian America. Amerasia.
    • De Leon, Adrian (Ed.). Death, Capitalism, and (Post)colonial Modernity. positions: asia critique.
    • Jack and Nancy Farley Distinguished Visiting Scholar in History, Simon Fraser University, 2023-2024
    • Carlton C. Qualey Memorial Article Award, Immigration and Ethnic History Society, 2022-2023
    • Finalist, NAACP Image Awards, 2022-2023
    • Engaged Scholar Award, Association for Asian American Studies, 2021-2022
    • CBC Best Canadian Poetry Books for barangay: an offshore poem, Fall 2021
    • Finalist for Best History Short Format, World Congress of Science & Factual Producers, Fall 2021
    • Plympton Literary Studio Fellow and Writer-in-Residence, Fall 2021
    • Joseph Armand-Bombardier CGS – Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2016/09/01-2019/08/31
    • Fulbright Award, , 2017-2018