Erika Lee is Vice President of the OAH and a Regents Professor, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Lee is an active public intellectual who is a sought-after speaker in the media, nationally, and internationally. She is the author or co-author of award-winning books in U.S. immigration and Asian American history, including America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States (2019); The Making of Asian America: A History (2015, Chinese edition, 2019); Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (2010), with Judy Yung; and At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943 (2003). At the Immigration History Research Center, Lee has helped pioneer ways of merging immigration history with the digital humanities. She launched and oversees the National Endowment for the Humanities–funded Immigrant Stories project, which works with recent immigrants and refugees to collect, preserve, and share their experiences via a multilingual, digital storytelling website and archive. She also founded and co-organized the #ImmigrationSyllabus project, a digital educational resource offering historical perspectives to contemporary immigration debates.
As the United States enacts new immigration policies that ban travel from six mostly-Muslim countries, builds a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, reduces refugee resettlement, and expands deportation, it is clear that a new age of xenophobia has begun. In this lecture, award-winning American historian Erika Lee charts the long history of American xenophobia to reveal a sobering portrait of how xenophobia works and why it is still flourishing today.