Trans-Pacific Inequalities

Endorsed by the OAH–Japanese Association for American Studies Japan Historians’ Collaborative Committee, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS), and the Western History Association

Thursday, April 2, 2020, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Asian American; International Relations; Social and Cultural


Bringing together scholars of Asian American history and U.S.–East Asian relations, this roundtable discussion will examine how diverse exchanges between the United States and East Asia have exacerbated, reinforced, or alleviated inequalities in the United States from the 1960s to the present.

Session Participants

Chair: Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu, Rice University
Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu is Dunlevie Family Professor of History and Director of Rice University at Rice University. Her research interests include the history of US-East Asian relations, maritime environmental history, comparative imperialism and the global history of sports. She is the author of Creating People of Plenty (2001) and Transpacific Field of Dreams (2012). She is the recipient of Fulbright fellowships, the SSRC Abe fellowship, the ACLS fellowship, the residential fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Panelist: Amanda C. Demmer, Virginia Tech
Amanda C. Demmer is an Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech. Her work has appeared in The Journal of the Early Republic and The Cold War at Home and Abroad: Domestic Politics and U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1945 (University of Kentucky Press). Her book manuscript, tentatively entitled Moving On: Migrants and the Last Chapter of the Vietnam War, explores the role of refugee politics in postwar U.S.-Vietnamese relations and is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

Panelist: Joyce Mao, Middlebury College
Joyce Mao is an Associate Professor of History at Middlebury College. Her work focuses on the intersections between American foreign affairs and national politics during the Cold War era, with special attention to US-Asia relations. She is the author of Asia First: China and the Making of Modern American Conservatism (University of Chicago Press, 2015), the first book to examine how US-China-Taiwan relations inspired the American Right’s foreign policy platform and electoral growth after WWII. Her current book project is tentatively titled Porcelain and Steel: China in the American Economic Imagination. By engaging key questions -- Why does the Chinese economy inspire such deep emotions among all types of Americans? What are the historical foundations of those responses, and what can they tell us about capitalism’s cultural dimensions and the fraught political and economic meanings of “modernity” after WWII? – it will examine how perceptions of Chinese development influenced US grand strategy in Asia during the 1960s and beyond.

Panelist: Jennifer M. Miller, Dartmouth College
Jennifer M. Miller is an assistant professor of history at Dartmouth College. She received her BA from Wesleyan University, and her MA and PhD in international history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A scholar of U.S.-East Asia relations, her first book will appear with Harvard University Press in March 2019. Entitled Cold War Democracy: The United States and Japan, it draws from American, British, and Japanese sources to examine the role of democracy—as a policy goal, a political and popular imaginary, and a political system—in the development of the U.S.-Japanese relationship in the aftermath of war and occupation. Portions of this project have been published in the Diplomatic History, the Journal of Contemporary History, and a recent collection examining the relationship between history, memory, and international policy. She is currently beginning a second project that considers the impact of East Asian economic success on American understandings of capitalism, growth, and the state from the 1970s to the 1990s. A portion of this project, which examines the central position of Japan in the development of President Donald Trump’s worldview, recently appeared in the Journal of American-East Asian Relations.

Panelist: Ellen D. Wu, Indiana University
Ellen Wu (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is associate professor of history and director of the Asian American Studies program at Indiana University, Bloomington. As a specialist in 20th century US history, her research and teaching interests focus on Asian/Pacific America, race, migration, and the Pacific World. Her first monograph, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority(Princeton, 2014), received the First Book Award and an Honorable Mention for the Theodore Saloutos Book Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society along with the History Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. Her academic articles and essays have been published in the Pacific Historical Review, the Journal of American Ethnic History, Chinese America: History and Perspectives, and Modern American History (forthcoming). She has also contributed to public-facing venues including the Los Angeles Times, NPR’s Code Switch, Washington Post’s “Made By History,” and the investigative comedy TV series Adam Ruins Everything. Wu’s research has been supported with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Historical Studies, and the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. She is now writing Overrepresented: Asian Americans in the Age of Affirmative Action, a history of race, policy, and democracy since the 1960s.

Currently, Wu serves as a board member of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and a member of the Indiana Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. In 2017, she was named a “Champion of Diversity” by Indiana Minority Business Magazine.