Center for Asian American Studies
Center for Asian American Studies

Sam Vong

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., 2013, Yale University

Sam Vong



Sam Vong is a historian of twentieth-century United States, with specializations in refugee and migration studies, Asian American history, and the history of Southeast Asia. He received his B.A. from the University of California—Berkeley, his M.A. from California State University—Los Angeles, and his Ph.D. from Yale University.  Before joining the faculty at UT Austin in 2015, he was appointed as the inaugural Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015) at Gustavus Adolphus College, where he taught courses on race, ethnicity, and migration.

Currently, Professor Vong is working on his first book which examines the migration of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos between the 1960s and 1990s and their subsequent dispersal and resettlement across the globe. He focuses particularly on Southeast Asian communities in the United States, Argentina, and other locations across South America, as well as connections to little-known settlements in parts of Africa, such as in the Ivory Coast. His research analyzes the transnational scope of these refugee movements and interrogates the geopolitics of compassion, the formation of refugee diasporas across multiple continents, and the ways in which Southeast Asian migrations shaped global and local infrastructures of resettlement.

Vong has won awards for research support from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, and the Walter F. Mondale Research Fellowship from the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota.

Professor Vong is a core faculty member of the Center for Asian American Studies and an affiliated faculty of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at UT Austin.


Profesor Sam Vong es un historiador que estudia el siglo veinte en los Estados Unidos, especializándose en estudios de migración y refugiados, historia asiático-americana e historia moderna del Sudeste Asiático. Vong recibió su B.A. en la Universidad de California—Berkeley, su M.A. en California State University—Los Angeles y su Doctorado en Historia en la Universidad de Yale. Antes de unirse al cuerpo académico de la Universidad de Texas—Austin en el año 2015, realizó un post-doctorado (2013-2015) en Gustavus Adolphus College, donde enseñó cursos sobre raza, etnicidad y migración.

Actualmente, el profesor Vong trabaja en su primer libro, el cual examina la migración de refugiados desde Viet Nam, Camboya y Laos entre las décadas de 1960 y 1990 y la subsecuente dispersión y asentamiento de estos a través del mundo. Se enfoca particularmente en las comunidades del sudeste asiático en los Estados Unidos, Argentina y otras locaciones en Sudamérica, así como también las conexiones con menos conocidos asentamientos de refugiados en África, como el caso de Costa de Marfil. Este estudio analiza el alcance transnacional de los movimientos de refugiados, interrogando las geopolíticas de compasión, la formación de diásporas de refugiados en múltiples continentes y las maneras en que las migraciones del sudeste asiático dieron forma a las infraestructuras locales y globales de los referidos asentamientos.

Profesor Vong es miembro del cuerpo académico del Centro para los Estudios Asiático-Americanos y miembro afiliado del Instituto Lozano Long de Estudio Latinoamericanos en UT Austin. Para contactarle, escribir a: o


AAS 312 • Intro To Asian American Hist

35810 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM UTC 1.144
(also listed as HIS 317L)

Course description:

This course introduces students to the histories of people of Asian descent in the United States, from the late sixteenth century to the present. Through historical works, literature, films, primary sources, and popular culture, students will explore the making of Asian America as a dynamic site of identity construction, political protest, community formation, social movement building, and a vibrant field of intellectual and historical inquiry. The course will focus on four broad themes: 1) the causes and effects of migration and settlement in the development of Asian American communities; 2) the role that Asian Americans have played in shaping U.S. social, political, and cultural institutions; 3) the diverse individuals and groups which make up this broad category of people we designate as Asian Americans, and their unique and sometimes shared experiences of oppression, marginalization, racism, and political empowerment; and 4) the ways in which the experiences of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class have intersected with other marginalized groups in U.S. society. Throughout the course, we will explore these themes within global and transnational contexts to identify shared connections across borders—physical, imagined, and otherwise.

Required course materials:

  1. Shelley Sang-Hee Lee, A New History of Asian America (Routledge, 2013);
  2. Additional reading assignments will be available for download on Canvas.

Grading breakdown:

30%   Exam 1

30%   Exam 2

30%   Exam 3

10%   Attendance and participation

AAS 325 • Refugees In 20th-Century Us

35833 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BEN 1.108
(also listed as HIS 350R)

Course Description:

This course explores the history of refugees in the twentieth century, with special attention to the U.S. and its engagement in the international arena of refugee politics. The course asks what historical and contemporary roles have refugees played during times of peace and conflict in the twentieth century? Students will examine how states, non-governmental organizations, private charities, and local communities have come together to address the questions of asylum, displacement, statelessness, and human rights. Students will study the causes of particular refugee movements and the reasons why the United States responded to or failed to respond to certain refugee cases. The course will introduce students to how the "problem" of refugees has been framed by, among others, historians and social scientists, policymakers, NGOs, local communities, social workers, and refugees themselves. In doing so, this course will explore how particular cases of refugees have shaped U.S. domestic policies and also the development of the United States and its role in international affairs.

Required Books:

1. Carl J. Bon Tempo, Americans at the Gate: The United States and Refugees during the Cold War (2008);

2. Additional reading assignments will be available for downloand on Canvas.

Assignments and Grading Breakdown:

20%  Midterm Exam

15%  First draft of research paper

35%  Final draft of revised research paper

20%  Weekly journal entries

10%  Attendance and participation


AAS 325 • Hist Se Asian Diasp In Us

35117 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM CLA 0.120
(also listed as HIS 365G)

Which groups comprise the Southeast Asian diaspora in the United States? How has labor migration, war, and imperialism historically shaped the formation of various Southeast Asian communities in the U.S.? How does the history of a Southeast Asian diaspora in the U.S. complicate the idea of Asian America as a social project and a political critique?

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the history of Southeast Asians in the United States. Chronologically, the course will begin in 1898, with the history of U.S. empire in the Philippines, and the course will end with a discussion of the recent migration of refugees from Myanmar in Texas. By the end of the course, students will be able to identify important dates and events that have shaped Southeast Asian diasporas in the U.S. Students will also be able to define and discuss the following core concepts of the course: racial formation and racism; war and militarization; labor and class; gender; ethnicity; diaspora; and citizenship. 

This course carries the flag for Cultural Diversity in the United States. Cultural Diversity courses are designed to increase your familiarity with the variety and richness of the American cultural experience. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one U.S. cultural group that has experienced persistent marginalization.



Bich Minh Nguyen, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir (New York: Penguin Books, 2007).

Lynn Fujiwara, Mothers without Citizenship: Asian Immigrant Families and the Consequences of Welfare Reform (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

George Herring, America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996 [1979].


Attendance & participation                10%

First paper (4-page essay)                  15%

Midterm Exam                                    25%

Second paper (8-page essay)              25%

Final Exam                                          25%

AAS 312 • Intro To Asian American Hist

34949 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM JGB 2.218
(also listed as HIS 317L)

Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

This course introduces students to the histories of people of Asian descent in the United States, from the late eighteenth century to the present. It examines the migration and settlement of Asian peoples, their inclusion into and exclusion from the nation-state, and their experiences of race and racism. This course places particular emphasis on understanding Asian American history and its key themes within global and transnational contexts. These themes include: Orientalism; citizenship and national belonging; labor and class; comparative racial formation; anti-Asian movements; gender and sexuality; community formation; and political activism. Through engagement with historical writings, films, literature, and primary sources, students will learn to ask informed questions, including the following: what and who constitutes Asian America? Who counts as Asian American? How has the notion of "Asians" transformed over time in American culture and history? How can we re-write the history of Asian America to account for the arrival of new "Asian" groups to the United States, the formation of new political identities and solidarities across borders and nations, and the emergence of new technologies and multimedia? 

Tentative Reading List:

Sucheng Chan, Asian Americans: An Interpretive History (Twayne, 1991)

Daryl Maeda, Chains of Babylon: The Rise of Asian America (Minnesota, 2009)

Coursepack readings


Assignments and Grade Breakdown:

25%     Class participation and attendance

25%     Midterm exam

25%     Final exam

25%     Written essay on community-based project


  • "'Compassion Gave Us a Special Superpower': Vietnamese Women Leaders, Reeducation Camps, and the Politics of Family Reunification, 1977-1991" (The Journal of Women's History, forthcoming).


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