1. getting to know each other
Get to know what I write, what I teach, and what I consume.
I’m happy you opened this email.
Hi there, happy Monday! I hope you all are hanging in there and staying hydrated. This week brings a lot of material change for me, so it has been quite nice writing this little letter to you about the things that have consistently been on my mind. Seeing as this is the first time I am writing about “what I write,” “what I teach” and “what I consume,” I thought I would kick off this inaugural issue with some context on these categories for future letters.
What I write.
Broadly speaking, I write on histories of racial formation in the United States through a transnational lens. I use an interdisciplinary methodology where I bring together historical analysis with close readings of cultural objects. I look at historical archives, media, performance and photography in order to explore how race works in the United States and how communities strategize around these systems.
More specifically, I wrote my dissertation on the racial formation of the Iranian diaspora in the United States. Here’s a brief summary:
Solidarities and Solitude: Tracing the Racial Boundaries of the Iranian Diaspora offers a history of the Iranian diaspora in the United States from the Cold War to the end of the Obama era. Studying the Iranian diaspora, I argue, allows us to see how racial formation has been shaped by U.S. foreign policy. While Iranians have been categorized as legally white in the United States since 1978, their racialization fluctuated with shifting geopolitical relationships between the United States and the Middle East. By then exploring the array of diasporic factions through which Iranians articulated their racial identity in the United States, I connect their conceptions of race in the diaspora to the ways in which they engaged with both the politics of their homeland and U.S. empire. While most works on critical race theory chart how different ethnic communities were increasingly enveloped into the fold of whiteness, I trace an opposing process of becoming nonwhite, stressing that U.S. foreign relations is a key process of racialization.
Now that I am done writing the dissertation, I begin the process of turning it into a book manuscript. Alongside this, I’m revising a journal article for potential publication. This space will be rife with thoughts that I have on the process of researching, as well as snapshots of objects, sources, and other pieces of writing that are inspiring me.
Coming soon to “What I write.”
During quarantine, I started to write a digital zine on Navigating Grad School as a Woman of Color in the Humanities (and maybe Social Sciences, too). Here’s why: by the end of April, I had finished my dissertation, had completed my final meeting, and had effectively completed my degree. I was done. But I didn’t feel finished. Writing this zine was a way both of processing what I had completed over six years and of *paying it forward*. I am invested in the success of other WOC in academia, particularly in humanities-related subjects, so I hope that this zine will provide some answers to questions that I had to work through when I was a grad student.
Contents will include but are not limited to:
Coursework and quals tips
My dissertation workflow
Fellowships (where to find them, timelines for writing)
I plan to get the whole zine out in late July/early August, but here is a preview of some of the pages (the general ~vibe~ is *glitter punk*). Let me know what you think:
Feel free to share this email with friends if they’d also be interested in the digital zine when it comes out!
What I teach.
I teach in an Asian American Studies program, so my courses will include interdisciplinary readings and serve to show what the field of Asian American Studies encompasses. This year, I’ll be teaching four courses—2 in the winter quarter and 2 in the spring quarter:
Race and Nation in the U.S.: Belonging, Longing, and Resistance (winter)
Transnational Asian/American Activism (winter)
Asian Americans and Third World Solidarity (spring)
U.S. Media Representations of the Middle East (spring)
The recent uprisings and movement for Black lives has been especially critical to the way in which I am shaping these courses, as I want these syllabi to reflect the importance of these systemic issues and how scholars in Asian American Studies are conceptualizing them. So, these past few months have been filled with me channeling this energy into creating these syllabi, which I initially thought would be held in person. However, the growing reality is that these courses will likely be all or partly online, which means that I need to adjust the way I am thinking about course design and engaging with students. Although I am not teaching in the fall, I will still be using this space to think through best practices for cultivating a pedagogy that meets students where they are at given the current circumstances, while still providing intellectual rigor and meaningful discussion.
Coming soon to “What I teach.”
Discussions on any and all of the following:
Translating a syllabus to online learning
Digital zines/resource guides + community learning
Final projects that aren’t research papers
Are you going through a similar situation? Or even if you’re not teaching, do you have any thoughts on what makes you stay more engaged over zoom? Let me know!
What I consume.
I’m going to be real with you: it has been very difficult to consume media for the past few months. In the spring, it was particularly difficult for me to watch any TV shows or movies because I would bemoan the fact that I was no longer able to hug people or go to restaurants or generally do anything that I saw on the screen, and soon it transitioned into a weird irritation that the characters were not social distancing properly. Now that I’ve gotten used to our new normal, I am slowly moving back into taking part in *culture*. I want to hold this space for times when the things I consume intersect in some way with my work, and how I’m thinking them through together.
One thing that’s been important to me as of late is learning more about prison abolition, what it means to be an abolitionist, and what work has been and still needs to be done. To that end, I have been a part of an online Abolition Study Group led by Jaden Janak at UT Austin for the month of July. They have provided and facilitated a wonderful space with folks from around the country to learn about abolition, and I have already learned so much just by listening and doing the readings, which are accessible and informative. I just wanted to shout it out now in case you’re still able to join in July!
Coming soon to “What consume.”
Webinars! I have been going to a lot of webinars and zoom things because everything is being held online! It is both beautiful and weird!
Also: things that have been getting me through quarantining by myself, including but not limited to: online tarot courses, running, and YouTube.
Item(s) of note.
Please consider signing if you are teaching at an institution of higher education: The Immigrant Rights Working Group of H-PAD urges you to sign and share this letter. The letter protests the Trump Administration's July 6 ruling that international students must take in-person classes in order to stay in the United States on an F-1 or M-1 visa.
A very wild squirrel obstacle course that’s made me want to learn some woodworking skills.
This useful feelings wheel for when I need some guidance on how to read my emotions.
Higgie boy is feeling sleepy and cute.
If you feel so moved, reply to this email (private message) or leave a comment (public message) about what you write, teach, take in, or anything else!
Thanks to you all for reading through, and I’ll see you in the next one!