Building on an earlier grant whose funding extended from 2012-2016, we are happy to announce that we have received support for another three years for an initiative at the Center for Transpacific Studies of the University of Southern California. In 2011, we defined Transpacific Studies as “an emerging field”, and now we can describe it as instead a more established field of inquiry, still drawing on traditional disciplines and both area studies and ethnic studies to focus on the movement of people, ideas and capital across the Pacific. We plan to (1) continue our focus on recruiting and training graduate students with a Transpacific perspective, but also (2) shift from publishing edited volumes (like the two that appeared in 2014 and 2017 from Center for Transpacific Studies conferences) to producing monographs, and (3) inaugurate a new open access book series in Transpacific Studies to be published by University of California Press.

Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field

Janet Hoskins and Viet Thanh Nguyen co-edit this new anthology. Recognizing the increasing importance of the transpacific as a word and concept, this anthology proposes a framework for transpacific studies that examines the flows of culture, capital, ideas, and labor across the Pacific. These flows involve Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. The introduction to the anthology by its editors consider the advantages and limitations of models found in Asian studies, American studies, and Asian American studies for dealing with these flows. The editors argue that transpacific studies can draw from all three in order to provide a critical model for considering the geopolitical struggle over the Pacific, with its attendant possibilities for inequality and exploitation. Transpacific studies also sheds light on the cultural and political movements, artistic works, and ideas that have arisen to contest state, corporate, and military ambitions. In sum, the transpacific as a concept illuminates how flows across the Pacific can be harnessed for purposes of both domination and resistance.

The anthology’s contributors include geographers (Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Weiqiang Lin), sociologists (Yen Le Espiritu, Hung Cam Thai), literary critics (John Carlos Rowe, J. Francisco Benitez, Yunte Huang, Viet Thanh Nguyen), and anthropologists (Xiang Biao, Heonik Kwon, Nancy Lutkehaus, Janet Hoskins), as well as a historian (Laurie J. Sears), and a film scholar (Akira Lippit). Together these contributors demonstrate how a transpacific model can be deployed across multiple disciplines and from varied locations, with scholars working from the United States, Singapore, Japan and England. Topics include the Cold War, the Chinese state, U.S. imperialism, diasporic and refugee cultures and economies, national cinemas, transpacific art, and the view of the transpacific from Asia. These varied topics are a result of the anthology’s purpose in bringing scholars into conversation and illuminating how location influences the perception of the transpacific. But regardless of the individual view, what the essays gathered here collectively demonstrate is the energy, excitement, and insight that can be generated from within a transpacific framework.

Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field Image

News from our CTS Fellows 2014

Congratulations to our graduating members:

Ana Lee (CTS 2012-2013 Graduate Student Fellow)
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Comparative Literature
Faculty Advisor: Roberto Ignacio Diaz

Ana’s dissertation examines the place of China in the literary and visual cultures of Brazil and Cuba from the mid-nineteenth century into the twenty-first. Her focus is the literary, theatrical and visual representation of emblematic Chinese figures, such as the mandarin and the coolie, particularly as they emerge in discussions about citizenship and ethnicity in the last two countries in the Americas to abolish the institution of slavery. This year, Ana received a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University and was a recipient of a USC PhD Achievement award, She has also recently accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in Luso Brazilian Studies in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University for the fall.

Crystal Mun-hye Baik (CTS 2013-2014 Graduate Student Fellow)
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, American Studies & Ethnicity 
Faculty Advisor: Macarena Gómez-Barris

Crystal’s dissertation explores the formation of the Korean diaspora across the Pacific and the U.S. from the 1905-1965. By using what she describes as memory visual traces, ranging from vernacular moving images to experimental video installations by Korean adoptees, Crystal tracks the ways in which seemingly obscured dimensions of war, displacement, and colonialism continue to reverberate in the contemporary moment. Crystal was chosen for a USC Endowed Fellowship for the 2014-2015 year (declined) and has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in Korean American Studies in the Department of Ethnic Studies at University of California, Riverside.


Announcement of 2013-2014 CTS Fellows

Dissertation Fellowship:

Brandon Som is the author of the chapbook Babel’s Moon, winner of the Tupelo Press Snowbound Prize. His poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review, and Octopus Magazine. He has been awarded fellowships to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His full-length poetry collection The Tribute Horse was selected for the 2012 Nightboat Books Poetry Prize and will be published in the spring of 2014. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Literature and Creative Writing Program at USC, and is completing a dissertation that looks at citation and the transpacifc poetry of the Angel Island detainees, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and Craig Santos Perez.

Incoming Students Fellowships:

Jeremiah Dost earned his BA at Valparaiso University (History) and his MA at the University of Washington (International Studies: Korea). While living in South Korea on a Fulbright grant, he developed an interest in Korean national identity and historical representation. As a student in the Political Science and International Relations PhD program, he hopes to study the effect of this on international relations in the East Asian sphere, especially in territorial disputes.

Jenny Hoang graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from California State University, Los Angeles and is now a first year doctoral student in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. Her work focuses on the politics of intimate belonging of ethnic Chinese transnational tomboys currently residing in the San Gabriel Valley. She hopes to expand her work by investigating the nuanced social and affective dynamics of public life as gender and sexually queer Chinese transnationals navigate possibilities for living home, intimacy, and nation otherwise.

Josh Tuynman holds a B.A. in Political Science and masters degrees in Latin American Studies and International Relations from the University of California, San Diego. Before entering academia he studied post-Soviet politics in Hungary, taught English in Serbia during the Milosevic regime, and covered the end of one-party rule in Mexico as a reporter for the Mexico City News. At USC he intends to study the rapidly evolving trade and investment relationships among Latin America, China, and the United States. As a native Angeleno, Josh enjoys LA’s international cuisine and bicycling.

Summer Travel Grants:

Crystal Mun-hye Baik graduated with a B.A. in History & Gender Studies from Williams College, and a Masters in Oral History from Columbia University. As a doctoral candidate in American Studies & Ethnicity, her work examines the intersections of settler colonial logics and militarized security in the modern making of Korean diasporic subjects, ranging from migrant laborers thrust into the western frontier of the U.S., to South Korean soldiers deployed as appendages to the U.S. military throughout the Asia Pacific. By drawing upon a visual archive of transpacific memorials, performances and experimental films, Crystal’s work indexes the (neo)colonial formation of a twentieth century Korean diasporic milieu, while also offering alternative articulations of life and security.

Robert Eap is a doctoral candidate in the Department of American Studies & Ethnicity. His research interests include memory, representation, international law, and state violence. His dissertation, Timely Encounters: Memory and Violence in Cambodia, examines the memorial landscape of the Cambodian genocide.

Viola Lasmana is currently a PhD student in the English department at USC. She works in the intersections of late 19th to 20th century American and Indonesian literature, postcolonial studies, digital humanities, pedagogy, and remix theory. Prior to moving to LA, Viola lived in the SF Bay Area, where she received her MA from San Francisco State University and BA from University of San Francisco. She is extremely excited to be a Transpacific Studies Graduate Fellow, and looks forward to performing extended research into the connections between Western colonial power, US imperialism and the Indonesian postcolonial state by digging into the archives of early 20th century Indonesian literature in Jakarta, Indonesia, a project that will be documented digitally, and is intended to be part of a larger project rethinking what a postcolonial archive looks like in the 21st century.

Xiangfeng Yang is a Phd candidate in political science and international relations. He previously studied at Nanjing University in China and was a Japan Foundation Dissertation Fellow at Waseda University in Tokyo from 2010-2011. For his dissertation he compares China and Japan’s participation in global governance with a particular focus how they project domestic values abroad through initiatives such as development assistance.

News from our CTS Fellows 2013

Congratulations to our fellows and their achievements:

Ana Paulina Lee, a Transpacific Studies Graduate Fellow in 2012-2013, will be a Fulbright Scholar in Portugal in 2013-2014.

Nadine Chan, a Transpacific Studies Graduate Fellow in 2012-2013, received a Social Science Research Council Dissertation Fellowship for 2013-2014.

Go Oyagi of History, who was the Center’s Transpacific Studies Dissertation Fellow in 2012-2013, will be a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, from July 1, 2013 to March 31, 2015.


Announcement of 2012-2013 CTS Fellows

Patty Ahn is a Ph.D. Candidate in Critical Studies at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her research interests include critical histories and theories of U.S. television, transnational media studies with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region, gender and sexuality studies, and popular music. Her dissertation, “Visual Music Networks: Korean-American Popular Music and Global Multiculturalism in the Wake of the Cold War,” examines how U.S. and South Korean media industries and policies, which have been inextricably linked since the Korean War, continue to structure contemporary movements of Korean/American popular music images across the Pacific Rim. Patty’s work has been published in Spectator, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Discourse, and Postmodern Culture. She is currently co-editing a special “In Focus” section on queer approaches to film, television and new media for Cinema Journal (forthcoming 2014), while also serving her last year as co-chair of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies Queer Caucus. Most recently, Patty co-produced an Asian American reality competition pilot series for Mnet America, an Asian lifestyle and music cable network and hopes to find more ways to straddle the line between the industry and the academy.

Nadine Chan is a PhD candidate in the Critical Studies Department in the School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California. She is working on a cultural historiography of colonial educational film in British Malaya (1920-1957) for her dissertation. Her research with the Centre for Transpacific Studies involves the study of visual propaganda materials that were circulated between American philanthropies and the British Empire in Asia. Her research interests include empire and cosmopolitan studies, non-fiction film theory and history, and transnational cinema. She holds a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in English from the National University of Singapore.

Richard Harris earned his B.A. in Japanese Studies from Earlham College (2008) and his M.P.P. from Georgetown University (2012). As a a PhD student in Political Science and International Relations at USC, his research interests include influence and image in international relations, political opinion and behavior, and East Asia. Most recently, he presented his Masters thesis, “Ambassador Doraemon: Japan’s Pop Culture Diplomacy in China and South Korea” at Georgetown University. He is fluent in Japanese.

Ana Paulina Lee is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature. She specializes in comparative literary and cultural studies of the 19th and 20th centuries. Her dissertation titled, “The Shards of China in Brazilian and Cuban Literature and Visual Culture” focuses on the cultural and literary representations of Chinese culture and immigration to Brazil and Cuba. Grants from the Center for Transpacific Studies; Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture; USC Gould School of Law -Center for Law, History and Culture; Visual Studies Graduate Certificate, and the Dean Joan Metcalf Schaefer Award have supported her research. She has published articles on ritual, performance and popular culture in Brazil, and is an active member of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. She graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from SUNY Binghamton and received her M.A. in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures from NYU in Madrid, Spain. In 2012, she completed a post-graduate certificate in Cultura e Arte Barroca from the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Currently, she is the co-lead to the Nanjing Massacre Testimonies Project in collaboration between the USC Shoah Foundation and the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in China. In 2013-2014, she is the recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Year Fellowship.

Darci Ohigashi earned her B.A. in History from Pomona College in 2009.  A Ph.D. student in the History Department, she is interested in Japanese American transnational history during the World War II period and history of the American West.  Darci plans to focus her research on kibei, second-generation Japanese Americans who received some of their education in Japan but eventually returned to the United States.

Experiencing a transpacific movement from Tokyo to Los Angeles himself, Go Oyagi has developed a keen interest in movements, circulations, and encounters of people, ideas, cultures, goods, and capital.  As a recipient of a dissertation fellowship from the Center for Transpacific Studies at the University of Southern California, he is currently working on his doctoral dissertation entitled “Over the Pacific: Asian American Internationalism in the post-World War II Pacific World.”  His dissertation investigates the ways in which Japanese and Chinese Americans viewed, imagined, connected themselves with, and worked on the affairs, countries, and peoples of East Asia as well as U.S. foreign policies in the post-World War II period.

Nic Ramos is a third year graduate student in American Studies and Ethnicity. Spending close to seven years as a labor union organizer in the healthcare industry before coming to graduate school, Ramos parlays his experience into studying the intersection of health, race, and hospitals. His work with the Center for Transpacific Studies interrogates the circulation of health and hygiene discourse between two colonial spheres of influence: mid-Nineteenth Century California and turn of the Twentieth Century Philippines. His broader work is interested in the how the public hospital is used as a colonial tool to settle the American Southwest and looks to techniques of moral and racial control to constitute whiteness in a multi-ethnic landscape. Ramos was born in Texas, learned to walk in San Diego, and is training to run the Los Angeles marathon in 2013.

Tang, Mengxiao (Phoebe) is a PhD student from the Program of Political Science and International Relations, USC. She was born and raised in East China. Before coming to the USC, she have a B.A. in Political Science from Renmin University of China (Beijing, 2009), an M.A. degree in Global Political Economy from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2010) and an M.Phil. degree in Government and International Studies from Hong Kong Baptist University (2012). Her research interests include: Chinese politics, international relations of East and Southeast Asia, political economy and comparative contentious politics.

The Center for Transpacific Studies received a $200,000, three-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation on Nov. 10, 2011. The grant will pay for dissertation fellowships, research grants for faculty and students, and visiting speakers.