Asian American

May We Gather: Multi-Part Public Speaker Series on Asian American Buddhist Historical Recovery and Resilience

Funie Hsu | Associate Professor, American Studies | San José State University

Duncan Williams | Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages & Cultures and Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture | USC

Chenxing Han | Independent Scholar 

May We Gather began in spring 2021 as a response to anti-Buddhist and anti-Asian violence and erasure. We are now planning for a major in-person pilgrimage in spring 2024 to mark the three-year memorial date of the Atlanta shootings. As educators, we find it particularly meaningful that May We Gather has been taught in a numerous of educational contexts, from high school, college, and divinity school classrooms to Buddhist temples and inter-religious communities. For the purposes of this APARRI Working Group, our aim is to increase the educational impact of the spring 2024 pilgrimage by organizing a multi-part speaker series in the winter of
2023/2024 on Asian American Buddhist Historical Recovery and Resilience.

Model Christians, Model Minorities: Asian Americans, Race, and Politics in the Transformation of U.S. Evangelicalism

Jane Hong
Associate Professor, History
Occidental University

This book project uses the history of Asian American evangelicals to explore the changing relationship of race, religion, and politics in post-civil rights America. Drawing from archival research and over one hundred oral history interviews, the book charts how post-1965 Asian (along with Latinx) immigrants and their children have changed historically white evangelical institutions and politics. In so doing, the book connects and explores the intersections of two developments that have reshaped racial and religious politics in America over the past fifty years: the rise of the Religious Right and the demographic transformations resulting from the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.

Spiritual Legacy of Fred Ho: Monkey as Matriarchal Socialist Spiritual Transformation

Brett Esaki
Assistant Professor of Practice
Arizona State University

Fred Ho was a major figure in Afro-Asian solidarity through music, community organizing, and scholarly contributions. In his theatrical production of Journey Beyond the West: The New Adventures of Monkey, Ho showcases a unique combination of music, martial arts, and spirituality. This proposed project consists of interviewing the writers, cast, crew, and musicians of his play, who are now in Brooklyn and Chicago along with archival research. Ho was notoriously dedicated to practical and political ideals. This project seeks to discover the experience of spiritual transformation, if any, of the writers, cast, crew, and musicians as they trained and performed the martial arts opera.

The Romance of American Democracy: Asian American Fiction as Secular Scripture

Kathy Chow
PhD Candidate, Religious Studies
Yale University

This dissertation research is on the formation of American democratic community as narrated in the genre of the romance. Arguing that the romance of American democracy is the secular scripture of American political life, this project traces the origin of the romance of American democracy to the American Romantics (Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman); and then then track how the romance has been taken up in Asian American fiction. Two chapters examine the remarriage plot in the Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) and Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker (1995), and the romanticization of the American landscape in C. Pam Zhang’s How Much of These Hills Is Gold (2020) and Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari (2020). By juxtaposing American Romanticism and Asian American fiction to theorize the secular scripture of democracy, the project pioneers a new method in Asian American religious studies that offers an alternative beyond liberal multicultural projects.

Unheard Soundscapes: A Close Listening to Asian America

Chanhee Heo | Graduate Student, Religious Studies | Stanford University

Kathryn Gin Lum | Associate Professor, Religious Studies and History (by courtesy) | Stanford University

Chenxing Han | Independent Scholar 

Xianfeng Shi | Graduate Student in Religion | Boston University

Elaine Lai | Graduate Student in Religious Studies | Stanford University

Unheard Soundscapes is a podcast series consisting of interviews, soundscapes, and conversations with people and places where Asian and Asian American religions have been underrepresented in history and society. Our project explores the intersection of Asian and Asian American resistance and religious practice. By attending to multisensorial perceptions and experiences and bringing creative attention to Asian and Asian American religious spaces, Unheard Soundspaces unsettles western-centered epistemologies and modes of knowledge production. Through the podcast series and an accompanying website, our project targets scholars, students of religious studies, practitioners, and activists. As a community-engaged project, Unheard Soundscapes aims to achieve three goals: 1) name and honor marginalized religious spaces and ontological pluralities; 2) empower Asian and Asian American individuals to connect over soundspaces that bridge racial, ethnic, and generational differences; and 3) cultivate decolonial research methods and pedagogical practices.

* For the 2023-24 cycle, a person can only be a part of one working group.

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