Far East Deep South and Reframing American Identity

Endorsed by IEHS and SHGAPE

Thursday, March 30, 2023, 2:45 PM - 4:15 PM

Type: Film Screening

Tags: Asian American; Film; Immigration and Internal Migration


Join this screening of the award-winning PBS/World documentary, FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and contributing historians. The film follows a Chinese American family’s search for their roots that leads to Mississippi, where they uncover surprising family revelations and the racially complex history of Chinese immigrants in the segregated South. This deeply moving story offers a poignant perspective on race, immigration and American identity. The panelists will discuss how archives and scrapbooks changed their lives, blindspots in how U.S. history is taught and how Asians in the Deep South reframes American identity.

Session Participants

Chair and Commentator: Robert Voss, Northwest Missouri State University
Dr. Robert Voss is an associate professor of history and social science education coordinator at Northwest Missouri State University. Originally from Sacramento, Dr. Voss earned his master’s and PhD in history from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is the recipient of the Excellence in Learning, Teaching, and Technology Award for “Digital History”, Northwest Missouri State University, Fall 2016. He served as a historical consultant for the documentary, Far East Deep South. His research interest is the 19th century, only to realize how little the story of Chinese-Americans has been included in the broad understanding of the history of the United States. Working on Far East Deep South has been eye opening and has transformed his knowledge of this important piece of US history. It is now a key part of his teaching on immigration and what his students will teach in their respective high school classrooms.

Presenter: Baldwin Chiu, New Day Films, Producer
BALDWIN CHIU teamed up with his wife, Larissa Lam, to produce Far East Deep South, and is also one of the film’s subjects along with his family. Chiu is a graduate of the Act One film producing program and his family’s story has been featured in major media outlets such as CBS and NBC News. Born in San Francisco and raised in Sacramento, Chiu is an advocate for the increased inclusion of Asian American history in schools and has spoken at Fortune 500 companies, conferences and universities. For his work documenting the Chinese American experience, he received a special award at the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association 150th Anniversary Golden Spike Conference and in 2018, he was named as a Mandarin Leader honoree. Additionally, Chiu is also a rapper known by his MC name, Only Won, who gained recognition for his viral videos, “Cantonese Boy,” and “Asian Americans Make History.”

Commentator: Jane H. Hong, Occidental College
Jane Hong is an associate professor of U.S. history at Occidental College and the author of Opening the Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion (UNC Press, 2019). Hong is currently writing a book about race and evangelical politics for Oxford University Press. She has appeared in the documentary, Far East Deep South, two episodes of the Peabody Award-winning PBS docuseries, Asian Americans, and has penned op-eds for the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. 

Presenter: Larissa Lam, New Day Films/Far East Deep South
LARISSA LAM is a member-owner of New Day Films and co-founder of Giant Flashlight Media. She directed the award-winning documentary, Far East Deep South, about Chinese families in Mississippi during segregation. The film made its broadcast premiere in on the World Channel (PBS) series, “America ReFramed” and has won awards at film festivals such as CAAMFest, Oxford Film Festival and Cinequest. A native of Diamond Bar, CA, Lam is a graduate of UCLA and was part of the Smithsonian's History Film Forum Emerging Filmmakers Lab. Lam has presented her films and been a keynote speaker at TEDx, numerous universities, museums, and governmental agencies like the U.S. Department of Education. She has also been featured on CBS News, USA Today, NPR and many other major media outlets. She has spoken about the Asian American experience at TEDx, Leadercast and she has been a contributing author to the L.A. Times and the Asian American anthologies “Miso for Life” and “Pho for Life.”