Evening Lecture Series

2013 - 2014 Biographies

Meena Alexander is an award winning author and scholar. Her new book of poetry Birthplace with Buried Stones (TriQuarterly Books/ Northwestern University Press) is forthcoming in Fall 2013. Her volumes of poetry include Illiterate Heart (winner of the PEN Open Book Award), Raw Silk and Quickly Changing River. Her poetry has been translated into several languages and set to music. She has written the acclaimed autobiography, Fault Lines as well as two novels. She is author of the academic study Women in Romanticism and the book of essays Poetics of Dislocation. She is Distinguished Professor of English at the City University of New York and  teaches at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.


Tomie Arai is public artist who lives and works in NYC. Her recent projects include banner designs for the Smithsonian's A/P/A Folklife Festival on the National Mall, public artwork for the new Central Subway Chinatown Station in San Francisco and a community collaboration entitled "Portraits of New York Chinatown" currently on view at the Museum of Chinese in America.

Tomie’s work has been exhibited nationally and is in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Japanese American National Museum, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has been a recipient of two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Printmaking for 1991 and 1994; a 1995 Joan Mitchell Visual Arts Grant, a 1994 National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship for Works on Paper and three MidAtlantic Arts Foundation Visual Artists Residency Grants. In 1997, she was one of ten women nationwide to receive an Anonymous was a Woman Grant for achievement in the visual arts.

In the year 2000, Tomie Arai was one of 50 artists nationwide to participate in the Artists & Communities: America Creates for the Millennium Project, sponsored by the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation and the NEA. She was a recipient of a 2003 MCAF grant, a 2007 Urban Artists Initiative Grant, a 2007 Arts and Activism grant from the Asian Women Giving Circle and a 2013 Puffin Foundation grant.


Ya-chen Chen is an Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages and Literature and Director of Chinese Language Program at Clark University. Dr. Chen is currently a visiting scholar at Columbia University's Weatherhead East Asian Institute. While at Columbia University Dr. Chen is conducting research on "Queering Chinese Women: LBT Research, Literature, and Cinema in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China." Dr. Chen was formally a faculty member and Director of Asian Studies at City College of New York - City University of New York. Her academic books include Women and Gender in Contemporary Chinese Societies: Beyond Han Patriarchy; Women in Chinese Martial Arts Films of the New Millennium; Higher Education in East Asia: Neoliberalism and the Professoriate; Women in Taiwan: Sociocultural Perspectives; and Farewell My Concubine: Same-Sex Readings and Cross-Cultural Dialogues.


Gail N. Harada was born in Honolulu and spent part of her childhood on a military base in Japan. She has a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2000, she won a Pushcart Prize for her poem “A Meditation.” She is the author of a collection of poems and stories, Beyond Green Tea and Grapefruit (Bamboo Ridge 2013).  She teaches writing and literature at Kapi‘olani Community College.


Nicholas D. Hartlep, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations at Illinois State University (Normal, IL). His research interests include the model minority stereotype of Asians, teaching for transformation, and critical race theory. His research has been published in Critical Questions in Education, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and International Journal of Research in Education Methodology. He is the author of The Model Minority Stereotype: Demystifying Asian American Success (2013) and The Model Minority Stereotype Reader: Critical and Challenging Readings for the 21st Century (2014), and co-editor of Unhooking from Whiteness: The Key to Dismantling Racism in the United States (2013, with Cleveland Hayes). His “Model Minority Stereotype Project” website lists over 465 references to model minority stereotype literature.


Ann Inoshita was born and raised on O‘ahu. She has published poems in Bamboo Ridge, Hawai‘i Pacific Review, Hawai‘i Review, and Tinfish. Her book of poems, Mānoa Stream, was published by Kahuaomānoa Press (2007),  Her short play, Wea I Stay: A Play in Hawai‘i,was included in The Statehood Project, performed by Kumu Kahua Theatre and published by Fat Ulu Productions. She has an M.A. in Engish from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and currently teaches at Kapi‘olani Community College.


Lisa Linn Kanae was born and raised on O‘ahu, and is the author the short story collection Islands Linked by Ocean (Bamboo Ridge 2009), as well as Sista Tongue (Tinfish 2001), a memoir/essay that weaves the social history of Hawai‘i Creole English with personal experience. In 2009, she was the recipient of an Elliot Cades Award for Literature. Kanae teaches composition and literature at Kapi‘olani Community College.


Juliet S. Kono has written two books of poetry, a short story collection, and several children's books. She has been widely anthologized, and her most recent book is Anshuu, a historical novel about World War II, which was published in 2010. She has won several awards over the years: the American Japanese National Literary Award, a US/Japan Friendship Commission Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship, and the Hawai‘i Award for Literature, 2006. Born and raised in Hilo, Hawai‘i, she now lives in Honolulu with her husband and teaches writing at Leeward Community College.


Amitava Kumar is a novelist, poet, journalist, filmmaker, and Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College. He is the author of A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb and Nobody Does the Right Thing: A Novel, both also published by Duke University Press; Husband of a Fanatic: A Personal Journey through India, Pakistan, Love, and Hate, a New York Times "Editors' Choice" selection; Bombay—London—New York, a New Statesman (UK) "Book of the Year" selection; and Passport Photos. He is the editor of several books, including Away: The Indian Writer as an Expatriate, The Humour and the Pity: Essays on V. S. Naipaul, and World Bank Literature. He is also the screenwriter and narrator of the prize-winning documentary film Pure Chutney. Kumar’s writing has appeared in The Nation, Harper's, Vanity Fair, The American Prospect, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Hindu, and other publications in North America and India.


Alex Lamas is a Kung Fu and Tai Chi instructor in Westchester and the Bronx, NY. He received his B.A. degree in Cultural Anthropology from Purchase College. Involved with the martial arts since the age of 12, in 1996 Sifu Alex Lamas studied the Fu Jow Pai system of Kung Fu under Master Shue Yiu Kwan. In 2001 he became an instructor at Kwan’s Kung Fu and is a current member of the Kwan’s Kung Fu Chinese Lion Dance Team. Other systems that Sifu Lamas has studied are Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Shotokan Karate, and Tai Chi which he continues to develop under his teachers Master Kwan and Grand Master Wai Hong. 

As a Kung Fu and Tai Chi Instructor, Sifu Lamas has brought his program to schools, campuses  and is also teaching Tai Chi to autistic populations. Sifu Lamas is a practicing Buddhist who took refuge under Ven. Dhamadipa, Abbott of Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, NY. He has been studying meditation for 17 years and is an official guide at Chuang Yen Monastery.


Vivian Louie received her Ph.D and M.A. from the Yale University Department of Sociology, M.A. from the Stanford University Department of Communication, and A.B. from Harvard University. Louie has previously worked as a newspaper journalist, journalism teacher and youth magazine editor, and an associate professor in education and lecturer in sociology at Harvard.

Dr. Louie studies immigration, education, and identities with a focus on the contrast between lived experience in urban and suburban neighborhoods. Dr.  Louie’s two books, Compelled to Excel: Immigration, Education, and Opportunity Among Chinese Americans (Stanford University Press, 2004) and Keeping the Immigrant Bargain: The Costs and Rewards of Success in America (Russell Sage Foundation, 2012), reveal how academic success is achieved in similar ways among working class Chinese, Dominicans and Colombians, even though they belong to groups typically framed at opposite ends of academic success (the Asian American high achiever and the Latino American low achiever). She finds shared family and institutional mechanisms in the respondents’ success, especially how access to different kinds of institutions, especially good public schools and afterschool/enrichment programs, made these journeys to success easier or harder. Dr. Louie is also an editor of and contributor to Writing Immigration: Scholars and Journalists in Dialogue (University of California Press, 2011).


Pyong Gap Min is the Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He also serves as Director of the Research Center for Korean Community at Queens College. The areas of his research interest are immigration, ethnic identity, ethnic business, immigrants’ religious practices, and family/gender, with a special focus on Asian/Korean Americans. He is the author of five books, all focusing on Korean immigrants’ experiences. They include Caught in the Middle: Korean Communities in New York and Los Angeles (1996), the winner of two national book awards, and Preserving Ethnicity through Religion in America: Korean Protestants and Indian Hindus across Generations (2010), the winner of three national book awards, one in Korea and the other two in the United States. His eight edited or co-edited books include Encyclopedia of Racism in the United States, 3 volumes (2005) and Asian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues, the Second Edition (2006). He was a fellow as Russell Sage Foundation in 2006-2007, writing his 2008 book, Ethnic Solidarity for Economic Survival: Korean Greengrocers in New York City. He received the Distinguished Career Award from the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association in 2012.


Kevin Nadal is an award-winning professor, psychologist, performer, activist, and author, who received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Columbia University in New York City. Currently, Dr. Nadal is an Associate Professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice- City University of New York, where he is also the deputy director of the Forensic Mental Health Counseling Program. He is one of the leading researchers in understanding the impacts of microaggressions, or subtle forms of discrimination, on the mental and physical health of people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and other marginalized groups. He has published over 50 works on multicultural issues in the fields of psychology and education. He is the author of the books Filipino American Psychology: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice (2011, John Wiley and Sons) and Filipino American Psychology: A Collection of Personal Narratives (2010, Author House), a co-editor ofWomen and Mental Disorders (2011, Praeger), and the author of That's So Gay: Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community (2013, APA Books).

Dr. Nadal is the incoming Vice President of the Asian American Psychological Association, the president of the metro New York Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), a FANHS National Trustee, and a fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  In 2011, he received the Early Career Award for Contributions to Excellence by the Asian American Psychological Association, and in 2012 he received the Emerging Professional Award for Research from the American Psychological Association Division 45.


Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, D. Min. is a Buddhist priest, ordained in the 750-year-old Jodoshinshu tradition of Japanese Buddhism. He is  President of the Buddhist Council of New York, a Vice President of The Interfaith Center of New York, Clergy-on-Call for Columbia University, Community Clergy Liason for the NYC Police Dept., and Religious Advisor to the Japanese-American Lions Club. 

Since 1994, Rev. Nakagaki has organized an Interfaith Peace event to commemorate the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.  He organized the annual 9-11 WTC Memorial Floating Lanterns Ceremony from 2002-2011.

Rev. Nakagaki was ordained in 1980 at the Nishi Honganji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. In 1985, he was sent to the US as an overseas minister, serving first with at the Seattle Buddhist Church, (1985-1989), the Parlier Buddhist Church (1989-1994), and the New York Buddhist Church (1994-2010).

Rev. Nakagaki is the author of two books in Japanese: “No Worry, No Hurry, Eat Curry: New York Bozu Indo o Aruku” (A Buddhist Monk Walks in India, published by Gendai Shokan, 2003) and “Manhattan Bozu Tsurezure Nikki” (Diary of Manhattan Monk, published by Gendai Shokan, June 2010).


Christy Passion was born and raised on the island of O'ahu, and has published her work locally in venues such as Bamboo Ridge Press, ‘Ōiwi; A Native Hawaiian Journal,  and The Hawai‘i Pacific Review as well as being featured in Mauri Ola: a New Zealand Anthology by Auckland University Press. Her poetry has won both local and national awards. A surgical/trauma critical care nurse at the Queen's Medical Center, Passion writes journal articles on critical care nursing. Forthcoming will be the article "Massive Transfusion Protocols" in the American Journal of Nursing, November 2013.


Song Tian is Professor of History and Philosophy at Beijing Normal University, and this year a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. Dr. Tian holds a PhD in Philosophy and a PhD in the History of Science. His fields of research include the philosophy of physics, environmental philosophy, sociology of science, anthropology, and interdisciplinary studies. Most recently he has been conducting case studies on garbage, milk, nutritional science, agriculture, etc., the stuff "civilization" is made of.


Jean Yamasaki Toyama is Professor Emerita in the Department of Languages and Literatures of Europe and the Americas at the University of Hawaii-Mānoa.  Her areas of research include Samuel Beckett's novels and the early French-Japanese connection in translation. Her latest books include No Choice but to Follow, Kelli’s Hanauma Friends and The Piano Tuner's Wife.  Her poetry recently appeared  in Fifty-Eight Stones and Wavelengths from Savant Press and her short stories in issues of Bamboo Ridge.


Yingguo Xu is a professor of English and Director of Institute of Chinese American Literature Studies, Tianjin University of Technology - Tianjin, China. Professor Xu is one of the leading scholars of Chinese American literature studies in China and the editor of Anthology of Chinese American Literature (2004/2008 second edition). She initiated a series of Chinese American literature studies in China. The series, having published eighteen books so far, presents the major scholarships in the field in China and received significant attention internationally.

Professor Xu is one of the few professors who first taught Chinese American literature in China, and has supervised dozens of Masters theses on Chinese American literature. She is author of more than sixty academic papers and eighteen books covering areas ranging from American literature, British literature, transnational studies, and diaspora studies. Her recent publications include:

  • A Study of Chinese American Drama, Shangwu Yinshuguan (Commerce Press), Beijing, China, 2012
  • New Approaches to Diasporic Literature: Theory and Textual Criticism. Ed., Nankai University Press, Tianjin, China, 2012
  • American Women’s Literature: From The Colonial Period to the 20th Century  (first writer), Nankai University Press, Tianjin, China, 2010
  • A New Dictionary of Ethnic and Gender Studies, Ed. Nankai University Press, Tianjin, China, 2009
  • British and American Literature from Cross-culture Perspective, Renmen Wenxue Press, Beijing, China, 2007
  • An Anthology of Chinese American Literature, Ed., Nankai University Press, Tianjin, China, 2008 (2004 first edition)


Fang-chih Irene Yang is a professor at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan and currently a visitor scholar at the Institute of East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley. Prof. Yang's publications are situated at the emgerging field of East Asian pop culture, including pop music, TV dramas, and women's magazines. As a feminist cultural critic based in Taiwan, her works respond to the timely political issues through ephemeral popular cultural phenomena while giving them a historical dimension. Prof. Yang approaches all her research topics from the intersecting perspective of gender, class, ethnic, and national(list) politics and tries to make sense of the politics of popular culture within  the tensions and contradictions generated through the forces of localization, regionalization, and globalization in contemporary East Asia.


Lisa T. Yun is an Associate Professor of English at Binghamton University - State University of New York. Dr. Yun received her PhD. from the University of Texas, and B.A. from Yale University. She is a co-founder of the Asian American Studies department at Binghamton University, and formerly served as Associate Director and Acting Director.

Dr. Yun's areas of interest include Asian Diasporas of the Americas, Asian American Literature and Culture, Freedom and Slavery, Black and Asian Comparative Studies, Colonial/Postcolonial literature, Creative Writing. Her current projects are on The Black Pacific and Asian Atlantic, and Coolie and Slave: Intersections of Histories and Literatures.


Ying Zhu (PhD, UT Austin) is Professor of Cinema Studies and Chair of the Department of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island. A leading scholar on Chinese cinema and media studies, Dr. Zhu's publications have appeared in prominent media journals, edited book volumes, and websites/blogs in the US, China, and Europe, and are frequently cited by scholars of Chinese cinema and media as well as journalists from major media outlets. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2006) and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (2008), and the author and editor of eight books, including Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central TV (New Press, 2012), which has received significant academic and media attention.

Dr. Zhu's 2003 research monograph, Chinese Cinema during the Era of Reform: the Ingenuity of the System is considered by critics as a path-breaking book that initiated the study of Chinese cinema within the framework of political economy. Her 2008 research monograph, Television in Post-Reform China: Serial Drama, Confucian Leadership and the Global Television Market, together with three edited book volumes she led, TV China (2009), TV Drama in China (2008), and Comparative Studies of Chinese and US Television (2005) pioneered the subfield of Chinese television studies.

Aside from her scholarly pursuits, Dr. Zhu also produces current affairs documentary films, including Google vs. China (2011) and China: From Cartier to Confucius (2012). The latter, co-produced with the Netherlands National Public Television, was mentioned as an exemplary work Public TV can do during a Netherlands Parliamentary Debate in Oct 2012 concerning funding for Dutch Public Broadcasting.



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