Transforming Knowledge

Endorsed by the OAH Committee on Academic Freedom, OAH Committee on Teaching, and OAH-Japanese Association for American Studies Japan Historians' Collaborative Committee

Friday, March 31, 2023, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Type: Paper Session

Tags: Asian American; Education; Professional Development; Public History and Memory; Teaching and Pedagogy


Transforming Knowledge: Educational Interventions through K–12 Curriculum, Library/Archives, and University Partnerships
This year's call for papers asks us to consider how the uncertainty and precarity of contemporary times challenge us to create a more just society for present and future generations. To address these urgent questions, our panel seeks to consider the importance of partnership models that leverage a range of expertise from the research university, libraries and archives, and K-12 sector in developing and disseminating relevant history teaching and learning resources. While university scholars tend to have more dialogue about these issues in tandem with libraries and archives, especially because of the nature of academic research, the K-12 sector is often absent in these types of discussions. Yet, history education in the K-12 sector has a profound impact on the US population. For many Americans, these classes may be the only times that people are exposed to lessons about culture and history regarding our nation. For others, these classes may be essential preparation for their future academic and professional careers. They are often one of the only places that the average person might learn about the histories of communities around the United States and the globe. These issues become all the more crucial for communities of color like Asian Americans, who typically are less represented in high school curricula on the whole. As rising anti-Asian violence and hate directed at Asian American communities continues to unfold with the COVID-19 pandemic, these kinds of programs become even further significant in terms of their educational mission.In recent years, there have been a growing number of efforts to insure that documentation of communities of color are available for high school teachers, including Densho (, which offers curriculum regarding the Japanese American incarceration during World War II, the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA, at which provides access to lesson plans, videos, and primary sources, and the Learning Together Program at the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center ( With chair/discussant Jana Lipman, this panel seeks to bring together different historical practitioners specializing in Asian American Studies to broach the important topic of how we can build channels of communication across our various institutional and disciplinary divides. How can these kinds of partnerships open up lines of dialogue so that our work can mutually inform each other’s fields? What strategies might be useful to consider for our students as we address their educational journeys from K-12 to the college years? During this important political moment in the early 21st century, we see this panel as an opportunity to conduct a conversation regarding these issues, as part of our organizing strategy to envision a more just society.

Papers Presented

Making Archival Interventions in the K-12 Context

Archives are incomplete and often exclude the perspectives of minoritized communities, including BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, the working class, and groups whose histories are not written but passed through oral traditions. Teaching about archives enables students to develop skills in locating and analyzing primary sources, but also understanding the importance of the perspectives that are missing. Moreover, when students are introduced to concepts of cultural memory and archives early, they may become more engaged with history and learn to contextualize their own experiences within a broader context. This paper argues that when we create opportunities to engage K-12 history teachers in honing archival research and analytical skills for their students, we are better preparing students with critical thinking needed in college level courses. As the Curator for the UCI Libraries Southeast Asian Archives and Research Librarian for Asian American Studies with twenty years of oral history practice, I am particularly interested in addressing the potential for introducing concepts of “community archives” into K-12 classroom, empowering students to see themselves as “records creators” and stewards of their community’s histories.

Presented By
Thuy Vo Dang, University of California, Los Angeles

Producing Knowledge: Centering Asian American Community-Based Histories

I am interested in considering the kinds of questions that we need to generate to teach our students a critical understanding of US history, and in the process, also develop their awareness of the importance of learning about and documenting underrepresented groups. As opposed to subjects like Asian American history being seen as additional or supplemental to the "main" narratives of history, how can the study of Asian Americans be used to demonstrate central features of U.S. national culture as a whole? What different methodologies or new ways of seeing can we utilize to open up these issues for our students? For instance, how can teaching Filipina/o American history illuminate the course of US empire not only in the US continent and Hawai'i, but across the Pacific? How does investigating Japanese American incarceration give us new ways to demonstrate to our students how race operates in US culture? How might teaching students about extremely underrepresented groups like Indonesian Americans lead them to consider the role of interimperialism across multiple empires, or the significance of diaspora? What analytical tools do we need to give our students to develop their critical understanding of these kinds of topics? In addition to reflecting on the cultural narratives that shape our view of these histories, I also want to suggest concrete strategies and available resources for reshaping our understanding of US national culture through our classes.

Presented By
Dorothy Fujita-Rony, Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, UC Irvine

Building Tools for Educational Empowerment

As teachers, we have the power to define what “American” can mean. Both of us are Asian American and this identity has shaped us as educators in foundational ways. Stacy is a second-generation Chinese American and Virginia, a first-generation daughter of Vietnamese refugees. Growing up, we hardly saw Asian American stories reflected in the K-12 curriculum. Like many Asian Americans, we felt invisible. That changed when we went to the University of California Irvine, where we had access to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) narratives and histories. We joined clubs like the Vietnamese Student Association, and found community with fellow BIPOC classmates. These experiences opened our eyes to the power of knowing one’s history. That new understanding shaped our love for history, and teaching history in ways that are inclusive and empowering for all students. Together we are creating and curating resources through Educate to Empower. Our presentation will address how we have responded to the rise of anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 era by creating our #StopAsianHate Educator

Presented By
Hang Virginia Nguyen, Educate to EmpowerStacy Yung, Educate to Empower

Session Participants

Chair and Commentator: Jana Kate Lipman, Tulane University
Jana K. Lipman is a professor of History at Tulane University. She is a scholar of U.S. foreign relations, U.S. immigration, and labor history. She is the author of Guantánamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution (University of California Press, 2009), the co-winner of the 2009 Taft Prize in Labor History. Her new book is In Camps: Vietnamese Refugees, Asylum-Seekers, and Repatriates (University of California Press, 2020), and it was the 2021 Honorable Mention for SHAFR's Robert Ferrell Book Prize.
Lipman is also the co-translator of Ship of Fate: Memoir of a Vietnamese Repatriate by Tran Dinh Tru (University of Hawai'i Press, 2017), which was named one of The Guardian's writers best non-fiction reads to "explain the world" in 2021. Her scholarly work has appeared in American Quarterly, Modern American History, Diplomatic History, Journal of American Ethnic History, Radical History Review, and many other venues. In 2022, she was the Fulbright-Diplomatic Acadmey Visiting Professor of International Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. Lipman was also an adviser for the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, and she has written essays for The, Washington Post Made by History, and the Times-Picayune.

Presenter: Dorothy Fujita-Rony, Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, UC Irvine
Dorothy Fujita-Rony (Panelist) is a Professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at University of California, Irvine. She is the author of American Workers, Colonial Power: Philippine Seattle and the Transpacific West, 1919-1941 (University of California Press, 2003) and The Memorykeepers: Gendered Knowledges, Empires, and Indonesian American History (Brill Publishers, 2021), as well as numerous articles on Asian American history. Fujita-Rony has worked with different public history organizations since the late 1980s, including the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, the Filipino American National Historical Society, and the Southeast Asian Archive at University of California, Irvine. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Department of American Studies, Yale University. Presently, Fujita-Rony is developing a new project on Southeast Asian Americans, memory, and US empire.

Presenter: Hang Virginia Nguyen, Educate to Empower
Hang Virginia Nguyen is a passionate high school history teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience, a National Writing Project Fellow, and a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI), and Allyship trainer. She is a daughter of Vietnamese refugees, which has shaped her commitment for AAPI advocacy, commitment to social justice, equity, and leadership in DEI. She has national experience in holding workshops, leading presentations, educator training, and curriculum development.

Presenter: Thuy Vo Dang, University of California, Los Angeles

Thuy Vo Dang (she/her/hers) is Curator for the UCI Libraries Southeast Asian Archive and research librarian for Asian American Studies. Her work advances the practice of community-centered archives and foregrounds histories of marginalized groups. She has a Ph.D. and M.A. in ethnic studies from University of California, San Diego and a B.A. in English and Asian American Studies from Scripps College. With research and teaching expertise in oral history, Southeast Asian diaspora, community archives, and cultural memory, Thuy brings an interdisciplinary and grounded approach to building out digital humanities and archival documentation projects in collaboration with educators and community-based organizations. She is co-author of the book, Vietnamese in Orange County (2015, with Linda Trinh Vo and Tram Le, Arcadia Publishing) and also co-author of A People’s Guide to Orange County (2022, with Elaine Lewinnek and Gustavo Arellano, University of California Press), an alternative history and tour guide of Orange County that documents sites of oppression, resistance, and transformation. Recognized by OC Weekly as “The Studs Terkel of Little Saigon” in 2013, Thuy has since continued to provide consultation and training for oral history to diverse groups in academia and beyond. In 2021, she worked with a team in the UCI Libraries to develop an Oral History Toolkit, a free resource that empowers community members to document their own stories. Thuy serves on the board of directors for Arts OC and the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association.

Presenter: Stacy Yung, Educate to Empower
Stacy Yung is an instructional designer and former middle school history teacher who specializes in culturally responsive teaching and integrating educational technology. She is passionate about centering student experiences and student voice in the classroom and empowering students to be active citizens in their communities. As an advocate for social justice and equity, she develops and leads workshops on topics like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and how to build an antiracist classroom community.