Center for Asian American Studies
Center for Asian American Studies

Director's End of Year Statement

Tue, May 14, 2019
Director's End of Year Statement
Eric Tang, Director

Director’s End of Year Statement


The Center for Asian American Studies has a lot to be proud of as the 2018-2019 academic year comes to an end.  The past nine months were a turning point for CAAS, pivoting it towards a new chapter in its twenty-year history. For two decades, the bedrock of CAAS has been its dynamic faculty, interdisciplinary undergraduate major, nationally-renowned guest speakers and student-centered space. In 2018-2019 we made exciting advances in each of these areas:

New faculty:

Lina Chhun: Working with our partners in American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, CAAS successfully recruited Dr. Lina Chhun as its newest faculty member. Dr. Chhun, who receives her doctorate this year from UCLA’s Gender Studies, is an expert on Cambodian Americans, third world feminisms and transnationality. She will join the core faculty as an assistant professor in the fall 2020 semester after taking a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

Curran J. Nault: Dr. Curran Nault has taught more Asian American Studies than courses than any other lecturer in the history of CAAS. He is the recipient of several teaching awards—most recently, the Lavender Spirit award and the Lucia, John and Melissa Gilbert Teaching Excellence Award in Women’s and Gender Studies. In fall 2019, Dr. Nault begins his tenure-track position as an assistant professor in the Department of Radio-Television-Film. We are honored, privileged and thrilled to welcome Dr. Nault as a full-time member of the UT faculty.

New major

Over the past year, CAAS and it partners in Black, Latinx, Indigenous, LGBTQ and Women’s and Gender studies have proposed the creation of a new interdisciplinary major entitled “Race, Indigeneity and Migration” (RIM). The proposal was recently approved by the College of Liberal Arts curriculum committee, and it is now on its way to state-level approval. Pending final approval, the Asian American Studies major will be folded into RIM beginning with the 2020-2021 academic year. The move will enable Asian American Studies majors to engage the subject in a comparative and relational framework.

New space

This August, CAAS will move from its current space on the 5th Floor of Burdine Hall to a newly-renovated suite of offices at Belmont Hall (BEL 220). The new space will provide additional offices for lecturers, counselors and teaching assistants. It will also offer multipurpose common space for meetings, events and the CAAS library.

New Speakers series:

In 2018-2019, CAAS launched a new speakers series titled “Asian American Crossroads,” which invited nationally-recognized scholars to campus for lectures and book talks. This year’s speakers included Lisa Lowe (Yale); Naomi Paik (The University of Illinois); Evelyn Rodriguez (University of San Francisco) and Manu Karuka (Barnard College).Each of these speakers presented on the ways in which Asian Americans intersect with other race and ethnic groups, and on the importance of thinking of Asian American life in terms of empire, war, indigeneity and activism.

Indeed, 2018-2019 has been the start of a lot of “news.” Many thanks for joining us in celebrating his pivotal year!

Eric Tang

Director, Center for Asian American Studies

The University of Texas at Austin

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