Ethnic Churches and Racial Attitudes: A Comparative Study of Chinese- and Vietnamese-American Congregations in Houston, TX

Bianca Mabute-Louie
Graduate Student, Sociology
Rice Univesity

This research project interrogates the extent to which religion shapes the racial attitudes of Asian American Christians. Christianity influences the ways Asian Americans adapt to the U.S. and their involvement in ethnic churches shapes their perceptions of race and racism. This project interrogates how Chinese- and Vietnamese-American Christians, two of the largest Asian American groups, employ cultural-religious explanations in their conceptualizations of racial discrimination, racial boundaries, and anti-Blackness in this comparative congregational study. Overall, this study aims to contribute to the scholarly conversation on race, religion, immigration, and politics, with public implications on immigration, Asian American civic engagement, and broader movements for racial justice.

Identity, Community, Belonging: Imagining the Creation of a Postcolonial/Asian American Kachin Christian Community

Htoi San Lu
Graduate Student, Religion
Vanderbilt University

This dissertation examines theological, ecclesiological approaches to Christian community, identity, and belonging from an Asian/American and postcolonial feminist perspective: specifically examining how the Kachin Baptist community in the U.S. constructs their ethno-nationalist religious identity in changing geopolitical contexts. The Kachin are an indigenous, minoritized ethnic group who began to migrate from Burma/Myanmar to the United States in the 1950s. Divisions within the U.S.-based community emerged between 2011 and 2014, a period marked by intensified militarized conflict in Burma which resulted in thousands of civilians killed and more than 100,000 Kachin displaced. Kachin immigrants and resettled refugees in the U.S. have debated intensely about the contours of their community: differing about alliances and loyalty (to Kachin churches in Myanmar). I argue these divisions are best understood by examining the influential role of American Baptist missionaries and the Burmese sociopolitical context beginning in the 19th century to the present.

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.

(Re) Presenting Sikh American History: The Rise of Stockton Gurdwara as the Capital of Sikhi in the United States

Tejpaul Bainiwal
PhD Candidate, Religious Studies
University of California, Riverside

Sikhs have been a part of the social fabric of the United States for more than a century. Most, if not all, studies of Sikhs in this country follow a similar trajectory, which includes initial immigration at the turn of the twentieth century, discrimination and hardships faced by Sikh immigrants, the Ghadar movement, Punjabi-Mexican families, and prominent Sikh Americans such as Bhagat Singh Thind and Dalip Singh Saund. Scholars have focused on a socio-political descriptive analysis of the immigration and subsequent settlement of Sikhs throughout the early 20th century. Despite the fact that Sikhs are a religious group, a thorough analysis remains to be done on the role of religion. This projects seeks to redefine these historical incidents in Sikh American history through theories of racialization while emphasizing the role of religion and placing them into a larger context of identity; power, resistance, and liberation.

Refugee Reconnections: Vietnamese-American organizing in the California Carceral State

Victoria Huynh
Graduate Student, Ethnic Studies
University of California, Berkeley

This research project centers Vietnamese-American grassroots organizing as a site to theorize a framework of healing from refugee trauma. As Vietnamese refugees in the United States are continually displaced by war, incarceration, and deportation, this project asks: how do Vietnamese refugees draw from their spiritual and cultural traditions in order to address the fractures of trauma? How might these embodied, epistemological practices help activists to challenge the state structures responsible for displacement? To examine these questions, in-depth interviews and participant-observation will be conducted with a California-wide network of organizations fighting to free Vietnamese communities from incarceration and deportation: the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, API-RISE, and VietRise. This research project aims to interrogate refugee trauma as the consequence of the U.S. carceral and immigration systems, and to explore spiritual modalities of healing.

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