Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Adrienne Adams (they/them) is a Ph.D. student in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Their research traces the production and circulation of print and audiovisual materials among black diasporic queer/trans erotic information networks in the late 20th century. The movement of these materials–magazines, newsletters, porn videos, letter correspondence–across the Spanish Caribbean, Anglophone Atlantic, and Black Pacific offer fertile ground to rethink the aesthetics and cartographies of black internationalism, Black-Indigenous-Asian Racial Triangulation, and mundane technologies (i.e. the printer).
Olivia Armandroff is a third-year Ph.D. student in the department of Art History with a focus on twentieth-century American art. Her dissertation examines how the volcano, as geological process, material trace, and Indigenous cosmology, animated diverse artistic engagements with Hawaiian land and landscape from the islands’ pre-contact era to the present day. Its five chapters comprise a visual ecology oriented around the volcano’s natural forms—molten lava, hardened turf, loose basalt, petroglyphs, and burnt trees—addressing the work of settler- and tourist-artists alongside both long-established Indigenous material culture traditions and the more recent work of contemporary Native artists.
Jeremy Chua is a business and economic historian with a focus on Modern China and the Transpacific. Themes and concerns from aviation history, the history of capitalism, visual and consumer culture, state-directed development, Sino-foreign JVs, and spatial data sciences collectively animate his research on 100 years of Chinese aviation.
By approaching Chinese foreign policy through the unfolding empirics and culture of its aviation complex, Jeremy’s dissertation project seeks to articulate how flight, culture, and nationalism converged in the construction of China’s aviation complex, posing the critical questions of what it meant to be “modern” and “Chinese.” It is perhaps only in reading the cultural, technological, and organizational logics of the Chinese aviation complex at work with forces of capital and change (largely) driven by American and Japanese interests in the transpacific that we can coax out the “infrastructural state” that has come to characterize contemporary Chinese statecraft, its developmental objectives, and its welfare goals.
Karlynne Ejercito is a PhD candidate in the department of American Studies and Ethnicity. Her research broadly considers the technological development of US empire and racial capitalism, with a specific focus on how scientific management shaped colonial administration in the Philippines. As a fellow at the Center, she extends the historical scope of her investigations to postwar reconstruction and conditions of political sovereignty that distinguished the Philippines from other U.S.territories. Her dissertation builds on this work by looking to the forms of immaterial labor that were molded by military technologies and Cold War geopolitical strategy. Beginning with a commodity study of the manila folder and the colonial bureaucracy which necessitates it, her dissertation provides a longer context for information services American firms now routinely outsource to Filipino workers at the other end of the transpacific. In its account of how knowledge about the United States’ new possession was processed, the project examines the material life of knowledge production and its role in the making of a Philippine state.
Katherine Hammitt is a Ph.D. candidate in the French and Francophone Studies track of the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture program where she works on literature from francophone Oceania. Her dissertation, Beyond the Sea that Separates, explores the diverse and innovative texts that define the literary community of the transpacific region. As a Transpacific Studies fellow, she will conduct supporting research for her dissertation, traveling to Tahiti for 2022’s Salon du Livre in Papeete. Her research is more broadly focused on comparative francophone literatures and translation studies.
Huan He is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of American Studies & Ethnicity and a recipient of a USC Research Enhancement Ph.D. Fellowship (2019-2020). Currently titled The Racial Interface: Informatics and Asian/America, his dissertation explores the racial associations linking the Asiatic and the technological in the early digital era from 1942 to 1984. Through Asian/American literature, art, and history, The Racial Interface shows how liberal capitalism’s experiments with individualism, efficiency, and representation became bound to the rise of digital power in the 20th century. This focus also overlaps with other interests in digital game studies, speculative fiction, and poetics. His scholarly writing can be found in American Quarterly, College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies, Journal of Asian American Studies, and Media-N. He also writes poetry, which appears/is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, A Public Space, Colorado Review, Gulf Goast, and elsewhere.
Yuji Idomoto is a Ph.D. student in Political Science and International Relations. His research interests include International Relations theory, East Asian security, and Japanese foreign policy. His dissertation project examines the security implications of China’s rise to East Asian states’ military effort. By granularly analyzing the threat level, this project intends to explain why East Asian states have not increased their military effort to counter China’s rise. Part of the project examines the intersection of political economy and security, specifically how East Asian states’ expectation of future trade relationships with China influences their security policy. Before joining USC, he worked as a deputy director at the Ministry of Defense and the Cabinet Office in Japan.
Born and raised on O‘ahu, Sam Ikehara is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies & Ethnicity. Her dissertation, Atmospheres of Relief: Air and Militarism in the Pacific Ocean, investigates air across Asia and the Pacific Islands as a site of U.S.-Japanese interimperial violence that is actively contested through movements for demilitarization and sovereignty built around air, breath, and wind. Her research was awarded the Best Graduate Student Paper Award from the Association of Asian American Studies and an honorable mention from the American Studies Association’s Gene Wise-Warren Award. It has also been published in Verge: Studies in Global Asias.
Lucas Iberico Lozada
Lucas Iberico Lozada is a PhD student in Literature and Creative Writing at USC, where he aims to combine rigorous scholarship with an expansive creative practice in developing a cultural history of “the Americas” that pushes past the limitations of national imaginaries. As a Transpacific Studies fellow, he will be researching the literary and bureaucratic connections between Manila and Acapulco in order to better understand the Pacific as a key site of importance for the formation of “the Americas” both as a concept and material fact.
Issay Matsumoto is a PhD student in the Department of History. He studies modern U.S., Hawai’i, and Japan, with research focused on the transpacific dynamics of empire, labor, and capitalism. He received his B.A. from Tufts University, majoring in History and American Studies with a minor in Asian American Studies. He was also a 2021 Critical Language Scholarship recipient for advanced Japanese at Okayama University. He is also affiliated with the Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Cultures at USC.
Brooke McCallum is a doctoral candidate who comes to transpacific studies by way of undergraduate training in East Asian Languages & Civilizations at Harvard University and her current work in Comparative Media and Culture at USC. Shifting from ethnographic methods and toward the study of how sights and sounds mediate experience, her research considers how the fraught dialogue between Ryukyuan, Japanese, and U.S. interests became enmeshed in broader discourse around the precarity of life in the Global South, as metaphor and the imagined places and possibilities of the Ryukyu Islands continue to emerge in spaces far removed from the open wound of wartime trauma.
Lillian Ngan is a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. Her research focuses on the representation of Vietnam/ Vietnamese in Sinophone cultural production to interrogate multiple colonialisms, imperialisms, and intersections. By examining the open signifier of “Vietnam” in Hong Kong social movement, Sinophone Malaysian literary work, as well as Vietnamese Taiwanese cinematic production, Lillian’s work suggests that the representation points toward the competition and collusion of multiple dominations in the transpacific nexus. It also exemplifies those transpacific relations do not only occur between the United States and Asia, but between all countries that share the pacific. The research enables understudied regions to unveil the comparable decolonial trajectories between East Asia and Southeast Asia, between Sinophone communities and Vietnam.
Lina Nie is a Ph.D. candidate from the History Department of USC. Graduating from HKU with double majors in Chinese history and Japanese studies, her research interest focuses on maritime, diplomatic, military, and cultural exchanges among China, Korea, and Japan. She obtained her master degree from the Regional Studies East Asia program at Harvard University, with Harvard Yenching Fellowship. In addition to maritime and transnational studies, Lina is also interested in global history and comparative history in a broader trans-Pacific context that goes beyond East Asia. Her Japanese article discussing the traditions of Japanese culture won the second runner-up in the annual essay contest held by the consulate general in New England 2017.
Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Teraya Paramehta is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies and Ethnicity, and on-track to receive a Graduate Certificate in Visual Anthropology, at University of Southern California. Her dissertation, tentatively titled (Re)Making Paradise: Race, Tourism, and the Aftermath of Violence in Bali, explores the production and construction of how Bali became paradise and how activists’ and residents’ responses to violence in Bali (e.g., the anti-communist mass killings of 1965-1966, the terrorist attacks of 2002 and 2005, and environmental injustice) disrupted and remade the imagined paradise. Reworking the idea of “entanglement” as a metaphor for transpacific lives, the dissertation suggests that “entanglement” becomes more permanent after violent rupture happens. Nonetheless, there are moments of loosenessbefore the seemingly harmonious threads are forcefully pulled into a knot, suffocating those who are entangled in the threads. Bridging anthropology of tourism and scholarship on postcoloniality in Transpacific Studies and Ethnic Studies, the dissertation adds to a growing conversation on tourism and militarism in Transpacific Studies, from which Bali/Indonesia is largely absent. Outside academia, Teraya Paramehta co-founded Mari Jeung Rebut Kembali, a Jakarta-based feminist collective that utilizes popular, creative, and alternative culture to fight gender-based violence in Indonesia.
Grace Simbulan is a filmmaker, 2nd year PhD student and Dornsife Fellow in the Anthropology department. Her works, both creative and academic, reflect her commitment to center and support
the struggles of Indigenous, Black, and Brown women. Broadly speaking, her interests lie within the intersection of multimodal methods (visual, aural, sensorial) and ethnography, with a special focus on dreams, indigeneity, and social justice. Her research delves into the complexities surrounding the families affected by the war on drugs in the Philippines. Her work explores trauma, grief, conceptions of justice, and authority in this context.
Her works have been supported and recognized by the AIDC, Tokyo Docs, AFA, and DMZ Docs to name a few. In 2020, she received the Nō Studios Artist Grant in film to support her work in Wisconsin. Her first feature film A IS FOR AGUSTIN (2019), premiered in S. Korea and was shown in China, Italy, France, New Caledonia, Canada, the Philippines, and the US. This film was also featured in CNN Philippines' Top 10 Filipino Films of 2019.
Suiyi Tang is a first year PhD student in American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. Her research traces the material and affective sensibilities of yellow femininities within post-1945 U.S. imperial culture. By tracking yellow femininities’ multiple emergences in literatures, cinematic captures, surveillance documents, and visual artifacts of the long Cold War, her work aims to map a minoritarian politics of the transpacific, in which yellow femininity, as a strategy of counterhegemonic embodiment and a structure of critique, connects the aesthetic forms of racialized gender to the macrostructural operations of imperial, subimperial, and interimperial political economy. Suiyi also writes fiction, which appears in/has been recognized by Best of the Net, Black Warrior Review, Apogee, Hobart Pulp, The Offing, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, among others.
Tian Jing Teh
Tian Jing Teh (he/him) is a PhD student and Provost Fellow in the East Asian Languages and Cultures at USC. His research interests lie in transnational literature and media across Sinophone worlds, Chinese Korean/Indonesian popular culture, world/global studies, critical island and ocean studies, environmental media, border and migration studies. Remapping real worlds and imaginary world building of the “re-migrants” storytelling that travel from Southeast Asia to East Asia and to Oceania, he considers to argue that Southeast Asia is not necessarily a permanent periphery, but may also serve as a “center of fluid mobility”. It is through intra-Asian and transpacific relations (especially East Asia – Maritime Southeast Asia– Oceania) that his research reconceptualises the establishment of world literature and the ways in which it operates.
Sook-Lin Toh (she/her) is a first-year PhD student and Dornsife Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at USC. Her research looks broadly at the racialisation of technology, the digitisation and algorithmic governance of social life and identity. Situating her ethnographic fieldwork in tech-for-development initiatives in Southeast Asia, specifically those headquartered in Singapore, Sook-Lin aims to explore networks of labour and affective labour in machine learning, and its entanglements with localised notions of futurity and sociality, within the particular geopolitical and national orientations of the Singaporean developer. In studying the developer, she hopes to understand how subjectivities and environments of technological development may implicate marginalised communities in algorithmic governance and violence. Against a backdrop of Transpacific flows of knowledge, financial and human capital, this project hopes to begin conceptualising how the Singaporean tech community view the nation’s positionality and potential in a global market, in part constructed through the lens of a ‘Silicon Valley’ imaginary.
Ann Ngoc Tran
Ann Ngoc Tran is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. Her research interweaves Critical Refugee Studies, Native and Southeast Asian Maritime Studies, and Black feminist frameworks to study the oral histories and cultural narratives of boat refugees in the wake of the American War in Vietnam. She looks specifically at the complex experiences of fisherfolk and the “boat people” through a material analysis of the boat, an object, archive, and infrastructure that indexes imperialism, war, and colonialism as well as survival and ordinary life-making practices across Viet Nam and the U.S. Gulf South.
Carlo Tuason (he/him) is a musician, curator, and PhD student in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His research, writing, and curatorial practices explore visuality, acceleration/speed, creativity, and space through contemporary art and visual cultures within Asia and its global diaspora. In particular, Carlo is interested in the mechanisms of temporal-spatial organization and regimentation that emerge from the convergence of neoliberal capitalism, globalization, and urban development in contemporary Hong Kong. Through examining practices of durationality, slowness, intermittence, rapidity, and acceleration as forms of (counter-)visuality, he hopes to gain a better understanding of the inherent messiness due to overlapping systems of time, speed, and image.
Jason Tuấn Vũ
Jason Tuấn Vũ (he/they) is a first-year PhD student and Provost Fellow in the American Studies and Ethnicity Department at USC. His research interrogates the intersections of settler colonialism, militarism, and carcerality in the formation of global US empire. By engaging with the issue of Southeast Asian refugee deportation, he aims to chart a critical transpacific geography that links settler-military infrastructures to expanding US carceral power. In doing so, he hopes to bring Indigenous and refugee critiques of US empire into closer conversation, pointing toward resonant histories and potential futures of solidarity and resistance.
Tiara Wilson is a second-year Ph.D. student in East Asian Languages and Cultures department at USC. Tiara’s research analyzes the myriad ways East Asian and Black popular cultures draw inspiration from each other to devise new forms of empowerment and liberation. Her objects of analysis include race and fandom in Japanese anime, gender and ethnicity in Chinese hip-hop, and blackness in K-pop. Regardless of the medium or content, Tiara’s research works to expose racial hierarchies grounded in anti-blackness, uplift examples of powerful critique in East Asian popular culture, challenge assumptions about black and Asian communities and assert the historical and material significance of Afro-Asian encounters across the pacific.
Kaiyang Xu got her M.A. in East Asian Studies from Duke University. She is currently a Ph.D. student in East Asian Languages and Cultures at University of Southern California. Her research interests lie in contemporary Chinese cinema and media studies, critical race theory, and tourism studies. She has done research on the Sixth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, Chinese film studios, digital media and self-made video as an empowering genre, and China-Africa mediascape. She is currently doing research on Chinese imagination and construction of cross-cultural and interracial encounters in Chinese cinema and media. She is interested in how the discourse of China-Africa solidarity, or Chinese-black solidarity, is embedded in, if not generated from, the transpacific political structures. Her works can be found in the MCLC Resource Center, Film Literature (Chinese journal, 电影文学), and Hebei Academic Journal (河北学刊).
Viriya Yoo (she/her) is a first-year PhD student in USC’s Department of English. Her areas of interest include Southeast Asian/American literature, transpacific studies, critical refugee studies, genocide studies, decolonial solidarity movements, as well as the politics of gender and sexuality. In tracing representations of Southeast Asian women, and particularly Khmer women, in film and literature, she aims to investigate the ways in which US imperialism and militarism in Southeast Asia can be situated within the larger and multiple histories and structures of settler colonialism and racial capitalism. By focusing on subject formation of Southeast Asian women within these structures, drawing from gender studies and queer theory, she seeks to analyze ways that the circulation of these figures in cultural representations may allow for potential intimacies and alliances between Southeast Asian women and other minoritized women working towards decolonial futures.